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The price of living longer: You could pay $100,000-plus a year for nursing home care

Giving Support (fzant/iStock)

When my children were car seat young, they would beg me to stop at McDonald’s for a treat.

“Are you going to take care of me when I’m old?” I would ask.

They nod their little heads and say, “Yes.” They would agree to anything for a Happy Meal.

But I wasn’t joking. My husband and I are saving as much as we can to cover the cost of long term care should we need it, yet we still fear it won’t be enough. Even if we have adequate savings we’ll probably need our children’s help even if it’s to just monitor paid caregiving services.

Read more: Can you save half your income so you can retire early? FIRE advocates say it’s possible.

Genworth Financial recently released its 2018 Annual Cost of Care survey, and the results will make your heart race.

The annual median cost of care now ranges from $18,720 for adult day-care services to $100,375 for a private room in a nursing home.

The survey found that a semi-private nursing home room was $89,297. The cost of an assisted-living facility was $48,000 a year. A home health aide could run $50,336 a year.

Then there is the issue of how fast the cost of care is rising.

The annual median cost of long term care support services increased an average of 3 percent from 2017 to 2018 with some care categories rising two to three times the 2.1 percent inflation rate for the U.S., according to the Genworth survey.

Assisted living facilities increased the most at 6.67 percent, followed by a semi-private room in a nursing home at 4.11 percent.

Consider this: A private nursing home room now costs 1.6 times the national median annual household income, which was $62,685 in August 2018, according to Sentier Research.

“The year-over-year cost of any kind of long term care is rising quickly, with no sign of slowing down,” said Gordon Saunders, senior brand marketing manager at Genworth, who manages the Cost of Care Survey

So what’s driving up prices? Here are some factors increasing the cost of care, according to Genworth.

— Not enough skilled workers. The demand for caregivers is outpacing the supply. This means companies have to pay more to entice the best people.

— Higher minimum wages and changes in overtime pay rules.

— The cost of compliance for workers and facilities.

— The higher incidence and cost of treating people with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

— The increase cost of caring for people who wait too long to receive treatment. “By then, the diagnosis has progressed beyond the need for basic care to very specialized and intensive levels of care, which is more expensive.” Genworth said.

Here’s something you should think about: How would you pay for long term care services if you need help with life’s basic activities — eating, dressing and bathing? What about your parents? Do they the financial means to cover their care?

This is how it feels to be a millionaire and still feel broke

Most Americans after turning 65 will need long-term care services at some point. And except in very limited situations Medicare does not cover long-term care. Medicaid covers it but to qualify for the benefit, you have to be pretty poor.

“We strongly advocate people at all stages of life begin planning now for the very real possibility of needing care as they grow older,” said David O’Leary, president and chief executive of Genworth’s U.S. Life Insurance division. “Starting a conversation about potential long term care needs and the issues of aging isn’t always easy. But honest conversations are essential to making sure that people can live life on their own terms as they grow older.”

Last week, I was on a panel hosted by The Atlantic to talk about the emotional and financial strain of caregiving. Watch: The Cost to Care Across Generations

Here are some resources you can use to start the conversation about long-term care.

Calculate the cost of care in your state using Genworth’s data. You can also download the app on iTunes.

AARP Planning for Long-Term Care Resource Guide

Agencies that can help with long-term care choices

Caregiver Resources & Long-Term Care

Caregiver Resources & Long-Term Care

The longer you live, the more likely you’ll have to deal with long-term care issues. Don’t wait until you’re in need to develop a plan for your care.

Your Thoughts

What has been your experience with the cost of long term care? Send your comments to Please include your name, city and state. Put “Long Term Care” in the subject line.

Retirement Rants and Raves

I’m interested in your experiences or concerns about retirement or aging. What do you like about retirement? What came as a surprise?

If you haven’t retired yet, what concerns you financially?

You can rant or rave. This space is yours. It’s a chance for you to express what’s on your mind. Send your comments to Please include your name, city and state. In the subject line put “Retirement Rants and Raves.”

Allan Daniels of Houston, Texas shared some of his experiences being retired.


— Being able to accomplish most errands and activities outside of rush hour.

— After 37 years of work, living below our means and maxing out every savings plan, that even without a budget we have managed to be financially comfortable under nearly all scenarios.


— I am either less efficient than I used to be or I am more relaxed. Either way, projects take longer than expected (but I usually don't mind).

— My social network is now mostly made up of people my age. At work, I interacted with people of many generations, which made me feel younger.

Cassie Bell of Vermont is looking for some advice. She writes, “As a young senior within 10 years or more left before retirement, and two kids who still need to go to college, I wonder what advice you would give me? I have not found any guidance for older single moms who have neither husband nor home.”

What advice would you give Bell?

Here’s some reading I would recommend for her.

Retirement Planning for Singles: 5 Tips for Flying Solo

How to Save For Retirement When You’re Raising Kids Alone

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