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Affording Monthly Nursing Home Costs

Nursing home costs can cause unexpected financial disaster — and planning is the best defense. Planning tools such as long-term care insurance or veterans’ benefits may be available. Assessing family health history may assist in determining the likelihood of future nursing home care.

How Can I Afford Nursing Home Costs?

Nursing home care is something many families must eventually face. Due to advances in medicine, people are living longer. This also means that some form of assisted living may become necessary as minds and bodies age.

Estimates predict a person who turns 65 has almost a 70% chance of needing long-term care in some form. 20% of those people may need long-term care for more than 5 years.

These startling facts make many families wonder how they will afford nursing home costs, which can cripple their finances and completely drain hard-earned savings.

To add to the concerns many families face on how to pay for long-term care, the average nursing home cost continues to rise at alarming rates.

According to a recent survey, a private room in a nursing home averages $100,000 per year — over one and a half times more than the median household income.

Analysts say that nursing home costs are increasing due to factors such as:

  • Shortage of skilled workers
  • Higher minimum wages
  • Changes in overtime pay laws
  • Difficulty finding and keeping qualified workers
  • Increased need for specialized care
  • Increasing rates of Alzheimer’s disease

Cost of Nursing Home Care Per Month

There are several factors that affect nursing home costs. Costs can vary state-by-state, with highly populated areas being more expensive than rural areas.

Other factors that affect costs may include the length of care needed and the skill level of the provider.

Some cost influencers include:

  • Time of day: If a person receives care in their home, visits from care providers are more expensive in the evening hours, on weekends, and on holidays.
  • Extra charges: Care facilities typically provide basic room, food, and housekeeping. Extra costs can occur for things such as social services and therapies.
  • Variable rates: Adult day services generally charge per day. However, they often charge extra for some activities and events.

Although nursing home costs vary by state and facility, national averages are: 

  • $6,844 per month for a semi-private room in a nursing home
  • $7,698 per month for a private room in a nursing home
  • $3,628 per month for care in a one-bedroom unit of an assisted living facility
  • $21 per hour for a health aide
  • $20 per hour for homemaker services
  • $68 per day at an adult day center

How to Cover the Cost of Nursing Home Care

Planning for nursing home costs should ideally happen long before the need for care arises.

Some options to consider that may help offset nursing home costs are:

  • Long-term care insurance
  • Medigap
  • Employer-provided assistance
  • Private health insurance plans

Plan Ahead For Nursing Home Costs

Oftentimes, families do not have plans in place when nursing home care is needed, which can be disastrous.

Many programs that help with the cost of nursing home care become unavailable once a major health event occurs.

Some steps that people can take to plan are:

  • Begin saving money ahead of time
  • Consider illnesses that may be genetic which would require care, such as dementia
  • Monitor your loved one’s ability to care for themselves — any decline in independence could be a warning sign that future care may be needed

Does Medicare Cover Nursing Home Costs?

Many people mistakenly believe that Medicare will cover nursing home costs. Unfortunately, this is usually not the case.

Sadly, people who enter nursing homes begin paying for their care out-of-pocket until they have no money left. Medicare usually only covers hospital care, doctor services, and medical supplies during the nursing home stay.

However, there may be other options when it comes to covering nursing home costs.

Medicaid

Medicaid is a joint federal and state program. It helps with medical costs for people with limited income. When a person qualifies for both Medicare and Medicaid, most health care is covered, including nursing home costs.

Even if a person is paying the entire cost of nursing home care out-of-pocket because they did not qualify for Medicaid, they may eventually qualify. If personal funds are depleted, Medicaid may take over payment of nursing home costs.

Most, but not all, nursing homes accept Medicaid. It is wise to find a nursing home that accepts Medicaid to avoid having to relocate your loved one if their personal funds run out.

Long-Term Care Insurance

Long-term care insurance can usually only be purchased well in advance of the need for nursing home care, and policies vary a great deal. Some policies only cover nursing home care, but others may include adult daycare, assisted living, informal home care, and some medical equipment.

To find out what is covered, check the policy or call the insurance company.

Veterans Benefits

Veterans may qualify to get nursing home costs paid for.

Long-term care service for veterans may include:

  • 24/7 nursing and medical care
  • Physical therapy
  • Help with daily tasks (bathing, dressing, taking medicine, and making meals)
  • Help with pain management
  • Caregiver support

Care for veterans is available in many different settings such as nursing homes, assisted living centers, adult day health centers, or veterans’ own homes.

Cost of Home Care vs Nursing Homes

The decision to move a loved one to a nursing home is one of the most difficult decisions many people will ever face. It is not always possible to keep a loved one at home, as safety becomes an issue.

The cost of care is oftentimes the deciding factor when it comes to living at home or moving to a nursing home.

However, a skilled nursing facility may become the only option for those with illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease, which requires a level of medical care that typically cannot be provided at home.

Ballpark costs for care options are as follows:

Per Day Per Year
Home Care Aide $160 $58,000
Assisted Living $119 $43,000
Skilled Nursing Home $220 $80,000

Nursing Home Abuse May Increase Costs

Nursing home abuse may make it hard for families to afford care. The causes of nursing home abuse are known and are a sad reality that many elderly people face.

If abuse occurs, it may create:

  • The need to transfer a loved one to a safer and more expensive nursing home
  • An inability to pay for nursing home costs if financial abuse occurs

It is critical to carefully monitor loved ones who are living in nursing homes. As the elderly become weaker, they become more vulnerable to wrongdoing. Families who suspect nursing home abuse or neglect may be able to recover losses through a lawsuit.

Nursing home costs are a problem that many families will eventually face. By planning and considering all available options, the cost of nursing home care can be managed.

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The Nursing Home Abuse Center Team

The Nursing Home Abuse Center (NHAC) was founded to bring justice to those affected by nursing home and elder abuse. Our mission is to educate and empower victims of abuse and their families to take a stand against this unlawful mistreatment. We work to return dignity back to those who have been broken down by nursing home abuse and neglect.

Last modified: November 21, 2019

View Sources

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Sackett, V. (October 24, 2018). “Nursing Home Costs Top $100,000 a Year.” AARP. Retrieved from https://www.aarp.org/caregiving/financial-legal/info-2018/nursing-home-costs-rising.html. Accessed on November 8, 2019.

Medicare.gov. “Nursing home care.” Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/nursing-home-care. Accessed on November 8, 2019.

Medicare.gov. “How can I pay for nursing home care.” Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/what-medicare-covers/what-part-a-covers/how-can-i-pay-for-nursing-home-care. Accessed on November 8, 2019.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. “VA nursing homes, assisted living, and home health care.” Retrieved from https://www.va.gov/health-care/about-va-health-benefits/long-term-care/. Accessed on November 8, 2019.

LongTermCare.gov. “Costs of care.” Retrieved from https://longtermcare.acl.gov/costs-how-to-pay/costs-of-care.html. Accessed on November 8, 2019.

SeniorAdvisor.com. “Home Care vs Nursing Care.” Retrieved from https://www.senioradvisor.com/blog/2015/08/home-care-vs-nursing-home/. Accessed on November 8, 2019.