Nursing Home Costs Continue to Rise in 2010

By contrast, prices for in-home care did not increase, a MetLife survey found.

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Seniors needing care in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities are paying higher prices on average this year, according to an annual market survey by MetLife. By contrast, the costs for in-home care did not increase.

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Four types of extended care costs were surveyed: nursing homes, assisted living communities, home-based care, and adult day services.

Nursing homes. The cost of a semi-private room rose 3.5 percent in 2010 to an average of $205 a day ($74,825 a year). The cost of a private room increased by 4.6 percent this year to an average of $229 a day ($83.585 a year). Costs were similar for rooms in specialized Alzheimer's units.

Assisted living communities. The average monthly rate rose 5.2 percent to $3,293, from $3,131 in 2009. The average was higher in facilities with specialized Alzheimer's and dementia-care units—$4,762 a month, up 7.4 percent from $4,435 a month last year.

Home-based care. The hourly rates for home health aides and what are called "homemaker services" stayed flat in 2010, at $21 and $19 an hour.

[See 7 Keys to the Right Senior Day Service.]

Adult day services. The average cost for adult day services, which are normally provided at facilities near seniors' homes, was unchanged this year at $67 a day.

"The cost of care in nursing homes and assisted living has been and continues to be high and in the past year, the increases have even outpaced medical care inflation of about 3 percent," Sandra Timmermann, director of the Mature Market Institute, said in a prepared statement.

There are wide cost differences among the states, so it's important to look at healthcare costs in local markets. The survey provides details on the largest markets in each state. Even within the same city, 200 to 300 percent cost differences often were found.