How do reverse mortgages work, in simple terms?

I must be stupid or something, but I've been reading about reverse mortgages and I just can't seem to understand the concept. My boyfriend's dad just decided to do it. He has some mental illnesses and tends to get taken advantage of, particularly in regards to money. Unfortunately his wife passed... show more I must be stupid or something, but I've been reading about reverse mortgages and I just can't seem to understand the concept.

My boyfriend's dad just decided to do it. He has some mental illnesses and tends to get taken advantage of, particularly in regards to money. Unfortunately his wife passed away last year. Essentially, what is a reverse mortgage and what does that mean for my boyfriend (in simple terms, please)? Why are you given money? What's in it for the lender? Will the house still go to my boyfriend if his father passes away? Does this cause you to go further into debt?

I believe he bought the house 25 years ago for $80,000. I estimate it's worth $120,000 now. Pretending he still owes $30,000 for it... what does that situation look like?
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