The Greatest Retirement Expense of All

The cost of long-term care is stunning.


You've probably heard the quip: Be nice to your kids because they'll pick your nursing home. But unless your kids do quite well for themselves, they may not be able to afford one. The average U.S. household pulled in $48,201 in 2006, according to the Census Bureau. The average annual cost of a private room in a nursing home: $76,460, or $209 a day.

A new survey of 10,000 nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and home care providers by Genworth Financial found that costs of long-term care have jumped by as much as 25 percent in some areas since 2004. A one-bedroom unit in an assisted living facility costs $36,090 a year. Care by a non-Medicare-licensed home health aide will set you back $19.18 an hour, or $43,884 a year for 44 hours each week. Even the least expensive option, adult day healthcare, will lighten your bank account by $15,236 a year.

These findings vary greatly by region. Nursing homes average $515 a day in Alaska but are $125 a day in Louisiana. As with housing, healthcare, and food, the Northeast and the West Coast have the highest prices for long-term care, while the South and Midwest offer the most affordable services. This interactive map shows the typical cost of long-term care in each state.

So, you might want to do something extra special for your kid today—maybe something worth $76,460.

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