The average daily cost of a private room in a nursing home was about $229 a day or nearly $7,000 a month in 2010, according to government estimates. But what are the average American’s chances of needing a nursing home in their lifetime?
A lot higher than previously estimated, says a recent study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Among people aged 57 to 61, about 56 percent will stay in a nursing home at least one night during their lifetime — compared to earlier estimates that ranged from 35 to 45 percent but that used different methods and data than the recent study, which was conducted by the nonprofit RAND Corporation.
The higher rate is likely due to an increase in short stays in nursing homes. RAND researchers found that nursing home stays of 21 nights or fewer rose from 28 percent in 1998 to nearly 34 percent in 2010.
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Researchers also examined out-of-pocket spending on nursing home care and found that only about one third of people in the 57-to-61 age group will spend any of their own money for it. That’s because many, about 43 percent in that group, will have full coverage, most often through Medicaid, the public health insurance program for low-income and disabled Americans.
Having children, the study reported, does not lessen the chances of needing a nursing home in old age. But it can reduce the length of stay, and cut related costs by as much as 38 percent. Having daughters capable of providing in-home care was correlated with even larger savings. The study did not address whether having sons to help with care reduced costs.