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Your aging loved one needs daily medical care for the foreseeable future but is it beyond what you are able to provide for them? You may have looked into several senior care options and found that a nursing home is the right solution for your circumstance, but now you have to figure out how to pay for it.

It’s no secret that health care for seniors is expensive, in fact, in the United States the average daily cost for staying in a nursing home is $235. For a two week-stay that’s $3,290, which is more than most people’s monthly rent or mortgage payment. Here are some programs and options that can help you figure out how to best utilize your funds in order to get the care your aging loved one needs.

1. Medicare

This is the federal government’s health care plan for adults 65 and older, but when it comes to covering the cost of a nursing home it can get a little tricky. Medicare will only cover the medical costs of a senior who is in a nursing home because of an illness or injury (surgery, a fall, a curable sickness), and not because of a long standing condition or diagnosis (dementia, Alzheimer’s). Medicare coverage is as follows:

  • 100% of nursing home costs for the first twenty days
  • 80% of the cost for the following eighty days
  • 0% of the cost after one hundred days

The only exception is if the medical condition is psychiatric in nature, then Medicare will cover up to 190 days.


Some states offer this program as a supplement to Medicare and Medicaid, but it primarily supports seniors still living at home. PACE will sometimes help to cover the cost of a senior staying in a nursing home if it is no longer safe for them to stay in their own home, although it is more likely they would be moved to an assisted living facility. Click here to see if your state offers a PACE program.

3. Medicaid

Medicaid is one of the best solutions if you are looking for long term health care in a nursing home facility. This program is run differently in every state but is only for those families who are deemed to have low income. The financial guidelines are strict, and if approved the aging adult must stay in a Medicaid approved nursing home. There are, however, exceptions to these rules. Because of the confusing and involved nature of Medicaid, visit here to see if your loved one would qualify or if you would like more information.

4. VA Benefits

The Aid and Attendance Benefit is for veterans who served in war-time and/or those whose income is limited, and assets and finances are taken into account when applying.

The other option for veterans and their spouses is placement in a VA nursing home, although there are a few drawbacks. Each state and each nursing home have different financial and medical requirements, so while you may qualify for one VA nursing home, you may not qualify for another right down the street. There are typically waiting lists for VA nursing homes, as most have a limited number of spaces for long term care.

Note: A person cannot receive both Aid and Attendance and care in a VA nursing home at the same time.

5. Private Funds

Most people use a combination of one of the previously mentioned methods and private funds to pay for care in a nursing home. Some privately funded options are:

  • Reverse Mortgage. This option can only work if the spouse of the senior needing nursing home care continues to live at home, as it is essentially taking a loan from the current value of the home. Both adults need to be at least 62 years old. To find out if this option is right for you, click here.
  • Moving. This may seem obvious, but relocating your aging loved one to a more cost-effective area can have a big impact on the monthly payment. Just like real estate prices are driven largely by location, the same is true of nursing homes, so research other regional areas you are comfortable with to see if the price is any better.
  • Long term insurance. This varies by state and typically has very expensive monthly premiums. Adults with significant medical issues and aged 65 and older may not even qualify.
  • Income from existing property. Selling a home or renting it out can be another way to generate some monthly income to offset the costs of nursing home care. This is, of course, most beneficial when the home is owned outright or very little is still owed on the mortgage.

Paying for nursing home care can be overwhelming and may even seem impossible. With senior housing and health care in an almost crisis in America, every year there are new and improved programs and assisted living options being made available. Reach out to a senior care coordinator to help you weigh all your options, as they have experience and knowledge that can make this road an easier one for you and your family to travel.