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The average private nursing home bed costs around $70,000, according to HelpGuide.org, a nonprofit dedicated to providing information about health, lifestyle and aging issues. That figure is just a start, though, as the true expenses associated with a nursing home room can cost much more, depending on the level of care needed and the state or metro area where that nursing home is located.
Generally speaking, the aforementioned "average cost" includes the bed or room, as well as meals, medical care and any other activities associated with living in the nursing center. HelpGuide.org also notes that there are two distinct room options: a private room with one occupant or a semi-private room, where the senior has a roommate. The costs vary somewhat; according to MetLife's 2009 Market Survey, a private room costs, on average, $220 a day or nearly $80,000 while a semi-private room costs around $200 a day or $72,000 a year, as of 2010.
If your loved one needs specialized care, you can expect to pay even more annually. For example, according to the MetLife survey, a private room in what's considered an Alzheimer's unit or wing costs more than $230 each day or around $85,000 a year. Even the semi-private rooms in these units compare more to what an average private room that is not located in an Alzheimer's wing costs--at nearly $76,000 annually or roughly $210 daily.
What you pay in one state for a room is not what you'll pay in another state by any means. In fact, in some extreme cases, rooms in some states are more than five times what is paid by residents of other states. For example, MetLife reports that Louisiana has the least expensive private rooms--at around $130 a day--while Alaska boasts the most expensive private rooms at nearly $585 a day.
MetLife reports that the cost of the average private room shot up 3.3 percent from 2008 to 2009. The data MetLife obtained can be compared to a study released in November 2006 by New York Life, which noted that the average private room costs around $204 or nearly $74,500 annually. At the time, a semi-private room cost $180 or nearly $66,000 a year. Semi-private rooms, MetLife notes, have outpaced the increases in expenses for private rooms at 3.7 percent.
To put these expenses in perspective with regard to other care/housing options, you can look to assisted living. This option is for those who only need personal care and are still able to live independently. The nearly $38,000 average cost for this option each year takes into account expenses associated with the room, at least two meals, housekeeping and any less intensive personal care, according to MetLife. Though far less expensive than a nursing center bed, the expenses associated with this option are growing at roughly the same rate as the costs for a private nursing home bed--at 3.3 percent.
Since 2000 reporting and writing has taken Michelle Leach to Michigan, Nebraska, Washington, D.C., Chicago, London and Sydney, Australia. Her stories have appeared in various media outlets including NBC's "The Today Show," Reuters, Chicagoland dailies and network affiliates across the United States. Leach has a master's degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism and a bachelor's degree in journalism/politics from Lake Forest College.