Average Cost of a Nursing Home Inches Closer to $80,000 a Year

Although the US economy has seen price rollbacks during the last year, long-term care providers have actually been raising rates, according to the 2009 MetLife Market Survey of Nursing Home, Assisted Living, Adult Day Services, and Home Care Costs. Private room nursing home rates rose 3.3 percent to an average of $79,935 a year or $219 a day, while assisted living also climbed 3.3 percent on average to $37,572 a year or $3,131 a month.

Home health care aides now cost an average of $21 per hour, which represents a 5 percent jump, and adult day care services now average $67 per day, a 4.7 percent increase over 2008.

The MetLife survey also reports on the cost of a semi-private room in a nursing home, which increased 4 percent to $198 a day, or $72,270 a year. The cost of a semi-private room in an Alzheimer’s or Memory-Care wing averages $75,920 annually.

Once again, the highest rates for a private nursing home room in 2009 were found in Alaska, where the cost is $584 a day on average. The lowest rates were found in Louisiana (with the exception of Baton Rouge and the Shreveport area), at $132 a day.

The cost of assisted living was the highest in Wilmington, Delaware, at $5,219 a month and the lowest in North Dakota at $2,014 a month. Home health care aide services ranged from a high of $30 an hour in Rochester, Minnesota, to $13 and hour in the Shreveport area. Adult day care services were highest in Vermont at an average $150 a day and lowest in the Montgomery, Alabama, area, at $27 a day.

For the full MetLife 2009 survey report, including the average long-term care costs for selected cities, please follow this link:


Veteran's Benefits – Aid and Attendance

Many seniors are unaware that they may be eligible for the VA aid and attendance benefit.  This benefit is available to veterans over the age of 65, who served at least 90 days of active duty, with one day during a period of wartime.   They must have received a better than dishonorable discharge.  If a veteran, or his spouse, has recurring out of pocket medical expenses or needs assistance with daily living tasks (such as meal preparation, dressing, bathing, shopping, taking medications, etc.) he or she should consult an elder law attorney to determine whether they might qualify for the Aid and Attendance benefit.
This benefit pays the veteran or spouse a monthly tax-free  pension amount.  A veteran is eligible for up to $1949 per month and a widowed spouse is eligible for up to $1056 per month in tax-free income.
In order to qualify, the veteran or widowed spouse must have recurring medical expenses or require personal assistance.  Medical expenses can include in-home care (including a child who is taking care of a parent either part-time or full-time), assisted living community costs, nursing home costs, prescription drugs, medical equipment, adult day care, insurance premiums, etc.
There are asset and income qualifications as well.  An experienced elder law attorney can assist the veteran or his widowed spouse in creating a plan for veteran’s benefits and determining the best method for preparing the application.  The elder law attorney will also discuss with the family how any application for VA benefits might affect future eligibility for Medicaid or other government benefits. It is imperative that steps be taken to adequately preserve the senior’s assets and to preserve eligibility for any other benefits the senior may require in the future.
Finally, the process of applying to the VA for this benefit can be very lengthy and difficult.  It is best to work with someone knowledgeable who can assist you in preparing your claim so that it is approved as quickly as possible.
The VA also requires that anyone giving advice to veterans about this benefit be accredited through the VA.  Before choosing a professional to assist you, make sure to ask if they are accredited and if they will help your family prepare a Medicaid or other long-term care plan at the time they are preparing the plan for VA benefits.
Angela N. Manz is an elder law attorney licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia.  She is accredited through Department of Veterans Affairs to assist veterans and their families in the preparation of claims for veterans benefits.
This blog post is not intended to provide legal counsel or to be a substitute for legal counsel. We assume no responsibility for any errors, omissions or any damage resulting from the use of this information.