Median Cost of a Nursing Home

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According to the AARP, 76% of Americans age 50 and older want to live in their current home for as long as they can. Finding a way to avoid a nursing home stay is often a good choice for all involved, as long as the person's safety isn't compromised. Given the high cost of living in a nursing home, other options are also bound to be less of a financial burden.

The median cost for a full-time home health aide in the U.S. is $4,576 per month, according to Genworth. If you don't need full-time care, the costs will be lower, and Medicare may pay some of these costs. The median cost for full-time homemaker services nationwide is $4,481.

Another option related to living at home is adult daycare. This choice is much like assisted living, but you live at home or with a family member and spend either the entire day or a portion of the day at a care facility. Average rates vary from state to state, but the median cost per month is $1,603. Although Medicare doesn't pay for adult daycare, Medicaid may be an option.


The Genworth Cost of Care site lets you search for median costs by state and city.

Other programs help those who choose to live at home. Meals on Wheels, community centers for seniors, help with shopping and transportation, and free legal services may be available in your area.

While living at home is preferable for many, it's not possible for everyone. Here are some options for those who are not able to remain in their home, including a nursing home, as well as their median costs.

Key Takeaways

  • An accessory dwelling unit (or a mother-in-law suite) is an area of a home that functions like an apartment—though remodeling costs to add one can be high.
  • Assisted living facilities are for mostly independent people who may need help with personal care or housekeeping. Prices range from $3,000 to $5,000 per month.
  • If your loved one needs special care, a nursing home may be the best arrangement. The median monthly cost is $8,821 for a private room.

Accessory Dwelling Units

An accessory dwelling unit, sometimes known as a "mother-in-law suite," is an area of a home that functions like an apartment. It often has its own bathroom, kitchen, living room, and bedroom. The person living there can keep their independence while still having loved ones around when their help is needed.

The cost of remodeling or adding on to a home might be cost-prohibitive. Still, if the home has usable space, the cost of remodeling might be lower than that of other options over several years.

As with all of these choices, there are pros and cons to accessory dwelling units. They can be disruptive to the family, especially if a senior has dementia or another illness. However, they could receive home health or homemaker assistance as needed.

Assisted Living

Assisted living facilities are for people who are mostly independent but may need some help with personal care and housekeeping tasks. Residents are typically mobile but live in a fully staffed facility with a private or semi-private room.

There's no universal definition of assisted living. Each location may offer somewhat different services. The price difference of assisted living versus a nursing home is substantial. Prices vary by area, ranging from $3,000 to $5,000 per month. At a national median of $4,300 per month, the annual cost comes in at $51,600.

Medicare does not pay for assisted living services. If you or your loved one do not have the money to pay for assisted living services, consider applying for Medicaid, which may help. If you have long-term care insurance, it should pay for at least a portion of the costs, depending on the language of your policy.


Medicaid is a state- and federally funded medical health care program. Amounts and types of coverage can vary greatly, depending on the state in which the patient resides.

Nursing Home

If you've exhausted all other choices, or your loved one needs special care for dementia or other conditions, a nursing home may be the best arrangement. A nursing home provides 24/7 medical care along with rehabilitation, socialization, and housekeeping.

Because the care is specialized, it comes at a much higher price than other options. The median cost of nursing home care is $7,756 per month for a semi-private room and $8,821 for a private room: $93,072 and $105,852 per year, respectively. Many facilities charge an all-inclusive rate, but some will have a la carte options.

As with assisted living and other residential facilities, Medicare probably will not cover the costs. The person living there may deduct the entire cost of nursing home care on their taxes if they are in a nursing home for medical reasons. If they are not in a nursing home for medical reasons, they can deduct the costs of medical care, but not the costs of meals and lodging.

For people who don't have the funds to pay for nursing home care, some health insurance, long-term care insurance, and life insurance policies can be tapped to cover costs.

Medicaid will typically pay for care if the patient meets the low income and asset requirements, but they will need to spend down assets to meet those qualifications.


If the patient is likely to need Medicaid to cover the cost of a nursing home stay at some point in the future, be sure the home accepts Medicaid for payments before they move in. Most nursing homes accept Medicaid. Still, not all of them do.

If you're a veteran, you may qualify for full or partial coverage from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) at certain locations approved or run by the VA.

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The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. AARP. "2018 Home and Community Preferences: A National Survey of Adults Ages 18-Plus."

  2. Genworth. "Cost of Care Survey."

  3. U.S. Administration for Community Living. "Adult Day Care."

  4. U.S. Administration for Community Living. "Assisted Living."

  5. Internal Revenue Service. "Medical, Nursing Home, Special Care Expenses."

  6. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. "How Can I Pay for Nursing Home Care?"

  7. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. "Geriatrics and Extended Care."

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