Nursing home facts

  • Today, about 1.5 million Americans live in our nation’s 17,000 nursing homes.
  • More than 90 percent of America’s nursing home residents are over 65.
    88 percent of America’s nursing home residents are white.
  • Three out of four nursing home residents are women.
  • The typical nursing home resident is a woman in her 80’s, who shows mild forms of memory loss and dementia. Although physically healthy for her age, she needs help with about 4 of 5 activities of daily living (eating, dressing, bathing, transferring, toileting). Over her lifetime, she’s saved for retirement, but the average cost of nursing home care is too expensive. She is, therefore, unable to afford the care she needs after six months and will be forced to rely on Medicaid.
  • Two out of every three nursing home residents rely on Medicaid.
    Every 8 seconds, an American baby boomer (those born between 1946 and 1964) turns 50.
  • By 2030, one in every five Americans will be a senior citizen.
    Americans 85 and older are the faster growing segment of the national population. From 1960-1994, that group increased by more than 274 percent.
  • Americans 85 and older are the heaviest users of long-term health care services.
  • Longevity is expected to rise for all ages.
  • More than 15 percent of Pennsylvania’s residents are 65 or older.
  • Two out of every five Americans will need long-term care at some point in their lives.
  • In 1996, the average cost of a stay in a nursing home was $41,000 per year.
  • Only one in four Americans can afford private nursing home care for one year.
  • The average stay in 1995 for a nursing home resident was 2.3 years.
  • On average, 8 out of 10 beds in certified nursing homes in America are occupied.
  • In Pennsylvania, more than 90 percent of beds in certified nursing homes were occupied by March 2000.
  • In 1995, America’s nursing homes were 87 percent full.
  • Most nursing homes (66 percent) are operated for profit and more than half are operated as part of a chain. This has resulted in fewer, but larger, nursing homes.
  • More than half of American nursing homes (54 percent) are below the suggested minimum staffing level for nurse’s aides. Nurse’s aides are the lowest paid and least trained of all nursing home staff, but they most often feed and bathe patients.
  • Nearly one in every four nursing homes (23 percent) are below the suggested minimum staffing level for total licensed staff.
  • Nearly one third of nursing homes (31 percent) are below the suggested minimum staffing level for registered nurses. The minimum staffing level for registered nurses is only 12 minutes per day per patient.
  • Registered nurses in Medicare/Medicaid-certified nursing homes spend an average of 42 minutes a day with each patient. Licensed practical nurses spend the same amount of time per patient per day. Certified nursing assistants spend an average of 2 hours and 6 minutes per day with each patient. This results in 3½ hours of direct and indirect care from all sources per resident in a 24-hour period.
  • Low staffing levels in America’s nursing homes contribute to an increase in severe bedsores , malnutrition, and dehydration, which lead to increased hospitalization.

Sources :

American Health Care Association, Facts and Trends ; Health Care Financing Administration, 1996; U.S. Census Bureau 1996; Modern Health, March 10, 1997; the United States Senate Special Committee on Aging News Release dated July 27, 2000; 1999 Census Estimates of the Older Population; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 1997: An Overview of Nursing Homes and Their Current Residents: Data from the 1995 National Nursing Home Survey; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Your Guide to Choosing a Nursing Home; American Health Care Association’s Online Survey, Certification and Reporting Data (March 2000); Malnutrition and Dehydration in Nursing Homes: Key Issues in Prevention and Treatment (National Citizens’ Coalition for Nursing Home Reform, June 2000).

Effects of understaffing nursing homes
Nursing home reform act