Facts and Statistics about U.S. Nursing Homes


If you are considering moving yourself or a loved one into a nursing home, there are many things to consider before making the move.  Who owns or operates the facility? What sort of services do nursing homes offer? Does the facility have a good rating? What are a nursing home residents’ rights? These are only a few of the common questions you may find yourself asking. 

To find answers to these and the other questions you undoubtedly have, you will need to explore each facility you are considering.  Part of this exploration is considering where the prospective facility falls in the larger scheme of the industry.  Does it rate better or worse? What about grades or scores from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)? What sort of people live in these nursing homes?

Facts and Statistics about Nursing Homes

To start you on your exploration, Nursing Home Abuse Center would like to share some facts and statistics about nursing homes.  This information may be a helpful starting point as you make decisions for you and your family. 

How Many People Live in Nursing Homes?

Across the U.S., there are around 1.4 million people living in nursing homes.  Of those:

  • 7.8% are 95 years old or older.
  • 33.8% are 85-94 years old.
  • 26.4% are 75-84 years old.
  • 16.5% are 65-74 years old.
  • 15.5% are younger than 65.

Two-thirds of the population of nursing homes are women (65.6%).  Among all nursing home residents, 77.9 percent are non-Hispanic whites.  Historically, few Hispanic and Asian adults chose to live in nursing homes.  It is largely thought the reason is because of language and cultural barriers.  Now, however, nursing homes have a more radical ethnic and cultural mix. 

Reasons Why People Live in Nursing Homes

People live in nursing homes for a variety of reasons.  Some require skilled medical care, and others have cognitive disorders that make living alone impossible.  Others may live there temporarily as they recover from an illness or injury.  Generally speaking, individuals in nursing homes require ongoing care for at least one chronic condition.  Most require some level of care with activities of daily living (ADL), including:

  • Preparing meals
  • Assistance with eating
  • Bathing and dressing
  • Hygiene
  • Managing medical care
  • Managing medications
  • Mobility

Most commonly, nursing home residents require care due to health or cognitive impairments that make living independently difficult.  These impairments often include:

  • Diabetes
  • Arthritis
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Dementia
  • Eye diseases
  • Amputations
  • Increased fall risk

There are a lot of misconceptions about the general population of nursing home residents.  While many residents do have chronic conditions and need assistance with ADL, there are many residents who are independent and largely healthy.  CMS reports:

  • Almost 20% of nursing home residents have no ADL impairment.
  • 7% have only mild cognitive impairment.
  • 1% had little or no cognitive impairment and have no ADL impairment.  
  • 15% have significant cognitive impairment requiring assistance with multiple ADL.

If your loved one does have cognitive impairments, it is important to make sure that prospective nursing homes have the means and staff to properly supervise and care for them. 

How Much Does a Nursing Home Cost?

Many people move into nursing homes immediately after a hospitalization.  During these short-term stays, Medicare often covers the costs.  However, if your loved one needs long-term care in assisted living or a nursing home, Medicare likely will not cover the cost.  This leaves many families surprised and unsure of how to pay for care. 

So how much does a nursing home cost? According to financial advisory reports in 2018, the median price for a private room in a nursing home costs around $8,300 per month.  That totals more than $100,000 per year.  Of course, costs vary greatly depending on the location of the facility, the services needed, and quite honestly the quality. 

Across the U.S., the highest average daily costs for a private nursing home are in Alaska, Hawaii and Connecticut with costs reaching $907, $449 and $452 respectively.  The lowest daily averages in the U.S.  are in Louisiana, Missouri and Oklahoma with costs of $182, $182 and $174 respectively.   

So, how do people pay for nursing home care? Most people pay out of pocket for the majority of care expenses.  Given the cost of care, it is easy to see how paying for a nursing home can dwindle even a healthy savings.  Many people turn to Medicaid once they can no longer cover the costs on their own. 

Medicaid covers the vast majority of nursing home costs in the U.S.  But if you are considering moving yourself or a loved one into a nursing home, make sure to speak with someone at your local Medicaid office before signing any paperwork.  Medicaid rules are different in every state.   

Have Questions?

As you can see from the information above, there is a lot to think about before moving into a nursing home.  If you have questions about nursing homes or are concerned about care, contact Nursing Home Abuse Center.  Our team of legal professionals has a plethora of resources that can help you make the best decision for you and your family. 

We offer support and legal guidance for families who are searching for quality care, or who have experienced the trauma of nursing home abuse.  Learn more about nursing homes by browsing our website, or contact us to speak with someone directly.  You can request a free consultation with our nursing home abuse lawyer by calling 1-800-516-4783.   


meagan cline

Written By Meagan Cline

Meagan Cline is a professional legal researcher and writer. She lends her expertise to FNHA and our websites, including Birth Injury Guide and MedMalFirm.com.