What are Nursing Homes?

Nursing Homes

Nursing homes are also referred to as nursing care communities or rest homes. They are long-term care centers for those who have a serious medical condition or illness that cannot be managed at home or in an assisted living community. What is becoming increasingly more common to see is a skilled nursing facility that has both a nursing home and a short-term rehabilitation program.

Nursing Home Services

Where an assisted living focuses on supporting the activities of daily living, a nursing home has an added layer of skilled medical support. Residents are typically very dependent on others for the majority of their care each day. They are usually older and sicker than residents of any other type of senior living. Many nursing homes also have an Alzheimer's care program for those living with some form of dementia.


Nursing Home Costs

Nursing home costs are based on a daily room rate. Most communities offer residents the option of a semi-private or private room. The range for a semi-private room is between $85 per day and $948 per day. The median is $207 per day or $75,405 per year. For a private room, costs range between $100 a day and $948. The median daily rate is $230 for an annual rate of $83,950.

Paying for a Nursing Home

With annual costs starting at more than $75,000, nursing homes can create financial hardship for many families. Unless the older adult is at a nursing home for short-term rehab, Medicare does NOT cover the cost. The majority of residents in a nursing home are Medicaid or private pay residents. If the senior purchased long-term care insurance, it will help to pay for the expense of a nursing home. Veterans may also be eligible for the Aid & Attendance benefit.

Evaluating a Nursing Home

Families often struggle with how to evaluate nursing homes and compare one to another. There are several ways to do this:

Personal visits. Plan to schedule an appointment with a staff member for the official tour and to have your questions answered. Just as important is to make unannounced visits in the evening and on weekends. These are the times when management staff is less likely to be in the building and you may get an honest look at what to expect.

Ask your primary care physician. While your loved one's primary care physician typically won't endorse any one nursing home, they might be willing to share feedback they have received from other families.

Nursing Home Compare. This is part of the official Medicare website. It allows you to find nursing homes in your area by zip code and then review the survey results of each.

The bottom line on nursing homes is that the emphasis is more on managing medical needs and helping residents with chronic health conditions achieve their optimum quality of life.

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