Nursing homes and skilled nursing homes (SNF) are residence facilities that are inclusive of room and meals. They are also known as long term care facilities or convalescent homes and must be licensed by the state.

They are often the only alternative for people who can no longer be cared for at home or in a community based facility and who need 24 hour nursing supervision over an extended period of time. They are too ill to remain at home, with families, or in less structured long-term facilities.

Nursing homes provide a range of services for their residents, including basic and skilled nursing care, 24 hour supervision, a full range of other therapies, treatments and programs and rehabilitation services such as physical, occupational and speech therapy for injured, disabled or sick persons. People who live in nursing homes are referred to as residents.

It is possible that a resident may only need nursing home services for a short period of time for recovery or rehabilitation after a serious illness or operation. Or one may need longer stays because of chronic physical health problems or cognitive problems e.g., memory loss or Alzheimer’s disease.

Nursing homes are generally stand alone facilities, but some are operated within a hospital or a  continuing care retirement community. There are over 16,000 nursing homes in the United States. Click here to find a list of nursing homes in your area.

The VA also maintains Veterans Nursing Homes. To find one in your state, click here.


Nursing home care is costly. The rate normally includes room and board, housekeeping, bedding, nursing care, activities, and some personal items. Additional fees may be charged for haircuts, telephones, and other personal items.

The average cost of care for nursing home care ranges between $4,000 and $8,000 per month. Due to the high cost of care, many residents use supplemental funding from the government in the form of Medicare and/or Medicaid. The Improved Pension Benefit and the death pension available to Wartime Veterans and their Surviving Spouses with Aid & Attendance add-on is an excellent source of funding available to be used for their nursing home care costs. Long term care insurance is another source of financing to defray the cost of nursing home care costs.

In many cases, nursing homes are paid for by the residents’ personal funds. When these funds are exhausted, the residents sometimes become eligible for Medicaid assistance.


Medicare covers the cost of some nursing home services, such as skilled nursing or rehabilitative care. This payment may be activated when the nursing home care is provided after a Medicare qualifying stay in the hospital for at least three days. It is common for nursing homes to have only a few beds available for Medicare or Medicaid residents. Residents relying solely on these types of coverage must wait for a Medicare or Medicaid bed to become available. More information.

Medicare supplemental insurance, such as Medigap, assists with the payment of nursing home expenses that are not covered by Medicare.


Medicaid qualifications vary in each state. Families of potential residents should check with their state government to determine coverage options. According to a federal law, a nursing home that drops out of the Medicaid program cannot evict current residents whose care is supported by Medicaid.

Not all nursing homes are certified to participate in Medicare or Medicaid.