The average length of time someone remains in a nursing home is 1 year. About half of residents stay in nursing homes for a year, and 21% stay for 5 years or more. Another 25% only remain in a nursing home for a short time of 3 months or less. Those who come to a nursing home for a short amount of time are typically admitted for rehabilitation or end-of-life care.

The exact length of time someone remains in a nursing home depends on factors such as age, health, gender and level of support from family members. Almost half of all nursing home residents are age 85 and older. On average, women stay in nursing homes longer than men, and unmarried residents stay longer than married ones. 

How Long Will Medicare Pay for a Nursing Home?

Medicare pays for nursing home care for 100 days following hospital discharge. For the first 20 days, Medicare covers costs entirely, but for the rest of the time, seniors are expected to contribute a daily co-pay. For stays longer than 100 days, Medicare doesn’t pay for care, but seniors who meet income guidelines can apply for Medicaid. Medicaid pays for 100% of nursing home costs for qualified enrollees at Medicare-approved skilled nursing centers. 

Additional options to pay for nursing home care include:

  • Reverse mortgages
  • Long-term care insurance
  • Life insurance
  • VA benefits for veterans
  • Pensions and retirement income
  • Personal savings

What Conditions Lead to Nursing Home Admission?

Generally, nursing home residents are suffering from chronic diseases or the aftermath of major health events. They require assistance with all or most of their activities of daily living, and many are bedridden entirely. The most common conditions that lead to nursing home admission include dementia, cancer, stroke, heart failure, diabetes mellitus and diseases of the nervous system, such as Parkinson’s. Geriatric syndromes, such as frequent falls and general frailty, are also common reasons for nursing home admissions.