Reverse Mortgage Trends: Women Live Longer than Men then Struggle Financially

By Darren Moffatt

March 11


In Australia, life expectancy has seen significant improvements for both men and women over the years, reflecting the country’s overall advancements in healthcare and quality of life. As of the latest data, men born in 2019–2021 can expect to live an average of 81.3 years, while women can expect to live longer, with an average life expectancy of 85.4 years. 

Several factors contribute to this difference in life expectancy. Biologically, women may have certain genetic and hormonal advantages that contribute to their longer lives. Social and behavioural factors also play a significant role; for example, men are more likely to engage in risky behaviours and have higher rates of smoking and alcohol consumption, which can lead to health issues that reduce life expectancy.

Meanwhile, the Australian retirees will nearly double by the year 2050, and experts project that seniors will be mainly women, which is a phenomenon called the feminisation of ageing

Common Struggles of Australian Widows 

When women lose their husbands, they often face a multitude of challenges that can significantly impact their well-being and financial stability. One of the most pressing issues is the financial struggle that can arise, particularly if the deceased spouse was the primary breadwinner or left behind unresolved debts. 

Managing the household’s finances suddenly becomes a daunting task, with many widows grappling with not only the loss of income but also potential debt that their husbands might have incurred. This can lead to difficulties in covering daily living expenses, paying off outstanding loans, and maintaining the same standard of living.

Furthermore, women may encounter challenges in accessing their husband’s pensions or savings due to complex legal and financial systems. The lack of financial literacy or preparation for such events exacerbates these struggles, leaving many widows vulnerable to poverty and financial insecurity. 

Consider the case of one of our clients, Joan*, who sought assistance from Seniors First for a Reverse Mortgage. This step was taken as a means to regain her financial stability. 

Joan’s Case Study 

At 73, Joan’s life took a dramatic turn that would test her resilience and adaptability. Having co-run a successful restaurant with her husband, the onset of COVID-19 dealt a devastating blow to their business, leading to its untimely closure. The grief of losing her husband was further magnified by the discovery of an $80,000 debt owed to suppliers, a revelation that came with the threat of losing her home due to a caveat placed by creditors.

With her financial backbone now limited to the Age Pension, Joan found herself navigating a sea of financial challenges. However, her determination shone through when her lender, recognizing her plight, offered a year’s reprieve on her repayments. For Joan, the thought of leaving the home filled with memories of her life with her husband was unbearable. She made it clear that her goal was to maintain ownership of her sanctuary for at least another three to five years.

Joan’s strategy for financial recovery involved:

  • Refinancing her existing home loan, car loan, and credit card debt
  • Revitalise her home with necessary improvements, such as a fresh  coat of paint, thereby breathing new life into her spaceDespite the option for a cash reserve
  • Use all her available funds upfront, prioritising immediate financial relief.

The refinancing process marked a significant turning point for Joan. Liberated from the shackles of her previous debts, she found that her Age Pension now sufficiently covered her day-to-day expenses. Taking a Reverse Mortgage brought Joan not just material relief but also emotional peace, allowing her to look forward to her future with hope and less burden. 

Want to learn more about Reverse Mortgage? Find out more about how to use a Reverse Mortgage for debt consolidation or download your FREE REVERSE MORTGAGE GUIDE

Ready to Apply? You can now check your eligibility online or call Seniors First on 1300 745 745. 

*Name has been changed to protect the privacy of Seniors First customers. 

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute financial advice. Please consult a licensed financial advisor before you make any decision.

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