Nursing Homes 101

nursing home

Note: This post originally appeared at

When most people think of retirement communities, they are actually thinking of nursing homes, which are a specific type of facility that cares for people with very high needs.  If you think that your loved one needs to move into a nursing home, here are some things to know before you start your search:

Nursing homes provide nursing care around the clock. Compared to an assisted living or independent living where residents receive some services, nursing homes are staffed with nurses who have experience working with people who need high levels of care like wound care or special therapy.

Most nursing home visits are paid by Medicaid. Medicare will cover the first 100 days following hospitalization, but after that, you’ll need to apply for Medicaid, tap your long term care insurance policy, or pay out of pocket.

Nursing homes cost about $75,000 per year. The cost varies based on location and room configuration (private or semiprivate rooms), but nursing homes aren’t cheap.

Medicare and Medicaid rate nursing homes. Want to know what a professional inspector thought of the community? Check out Medicare’s site: Nursing Home Compare. It’s got ratings for every nursing home in the United States.  It’s free to use, and you can search by city.

Nursing homes are only one type of retirement community.  There are several other options (like independent living, CCRCs, assisted living, and memory care), but nursing homes provide the most care and are most suitable for patients with advanced diseases who need skilled nursing care around the clock.