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Investing Specialists

100 Must-Know Statistics About Long-Term Care: Pandemic Edition

Who receives care, who provides it, the economic cost, and the devastating effects of COVID-19.


The coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating effect on people in long-term-care settings. More than 700,000 cases of COVID-19 have occurred among long-term-care residents and the staff who assist them. The death toll has been particularly alarming. Even though just 1% of the U.S. population resides in a long-term-care facility, long-term-care deaths represent nearly four in 10 COVID-19 deaths.

The pandemic has exacted a toll on long-term-care residents in smaller but still meaningful ways, too. Because of limitations on seeing family, friends, and co-residents, many long-term-care residents have experienced deep isolation during this period. That has exacerbated the mental health challenges that many such individuals face. It has also created extreme duress for their family members, who have been forced to settle for FaceTime or Zoom meetings in lieu of in-person contact. Long-term-care workers have also experienced extreme stress and grief, in addition to the physical demands of the job.

As a result of these events, many older adults and their families are reconsidering institutionalized long-term care. Occupancy in skilled nursing facilities has declined by 10 percentage points since the pandemic began. Deaths have contributed to that decline, but so have pre-emptive decisions to receive care at home or in other settings.

From a personal financial standpoint, long-term care has been a deeply problematic area for consumers for many years. An extended long-term-care stay can be catastrophically expensive, adding an extreme wild card to retirement plans without long-term-care insurance. Unfortunately, the long-term-care insurance market has been troubled itself, resulting in increased premiums on many policies and a number of insurers dropping out of the business altogether.

To help readers understand the key issues in the long-term-care space, I've assembled a now-annual compendium of statistics on long-term care. Each statistic includes a link through to the original source of the information; I've aimed to use the most current figures I could find from objective sources, wherever possible.

Pandemic Effects
782,277: Number of COVID-19-related cases in long-term-care facilities (through Dec. 3, 2020).
5.7%: Percentage of total COVID-19 cases that are among people who live in long-term-care facilities.
104,973: Number of COVID-19-related deaths in long-term-care facilities (through Dec. 3, 2020).
Less than 1%: Percentage of population that lives in long-term-care facilities.
39%: Percentage of COVID-19-related deaths that are of people living in long-term-care facilities.
79%: Percentage of COVID-19-related deaths that are of people who live in long-term-care facilities, North Dakota. (The highest of all 50 states.)
3%: Percentage of COVID-19-related deaths that are of people who live in long-term-care facilities, Alaska. (The lowest of all 50 states.)
220 times: Percentage higher likelihood of death from COVID-19 among people age 75 to 84 versus those age 18 to 29.
630 times: Percentage higher likelihood of death from COVID-19 among people over age 85 versus those age 18 to 29.
73.8%: Skilled nursing facility occupancy, August 2020.
84.7%: Skilled nursing facility occupancy, February 2020.

Usage of Long-Term Care
70%: Percentage of people turning age 65 who will need some type of long-term-care services in their lifetimes. 
48%: Percentage of people turning age 65 who will need some type of paid long-term-care services in their lifetimes.
24%: Percentage of people turning 65 who will require paid long-term care for more than two years.
15%: Percentage of people turning age 65 who will spend more than two years in a nursing home.
3.7 years: Average duration of long-term-care need, women.
2.2 years: Average duration of long-term-care need, men.
67.9%: Percentage of people in long-stay nursing facilities who are women.

The Role of Dementia
3%: Percentage of Americans ages 65-74 who have Alzheimer's dementia.
17%: Percentage of Americans ages 75-84 who have Alzheimer's dementia. 
32%: Percentage of Americans age 85-plus who have Alzheimer's dementia. 
64%: Percentage of Americans with Alzheimer's dementia who are women.
146%: Percentage increase in the number of people who died from Alzheimer's dementia, 2000-18.
-8%: Percentage decrease in the number of people who died from heart disease, 2000-18.
8-10 years: Average life expectancy following an Alzheimer's diagnosis.
2.8 years: Average length of time between when symptoms begin and when an Alzheimer's dementia diagnosis is made. 

Paying for Care 
63%: Estimated percentage of individuals age 65 today who will have no out-of-pocket long-term-care costs during their lifetimes.
13%: Estimated percentage of individuals age 65 today who will incur out-of-pocket long-term-care costs of between $0.01 and $50,000 during their lifetimes.
11%: Estimated percentage of individuals age 65 today who will incur out-of-pocket long-term-care costs of between $50,000 and $150,000 during their lifetimes.
4%: Estimated percentage of individuals age 65 today who will incur out-of-pocket long-term-care costs of between $150,000 and $250,000 during their lifetimes.
9%: Estimated percentage of individuals age 65 today who will incur out-of-pocket long-term-care costs of more than $250,000 during their lifetimes.
$321,780: Estimated lifetime cost of care for someone with dementia.
$19,240: Median annual cost for adult day care (five days/week), 2020.
$51,600: Median annual cost for assisted-living facility, 2020.
6.15%: Change in median annual cost for assisted living facility since 2019.
$54,912: Median annual cost for a home health aide (44 hours/week; 52 weeks/year), 2020.
$105,850: Median annual nursing-home cost, private room, 2020.
3.57%: Change in median annual nursing-home cost since 2019.
$142,254: Expected median annual nursing-home cost, private room, 2030 (assuming 3% inflation rate).
$256,926: Expected median annual nursing-home cost, private room, 2050 (assuming 3% inflation rate).
$155,125: Median annual nursing-home cost, private room, New York area, 2020.
$55,710: Median annual nursing-home cost, private room, Monroe, Louisiana, 2020.
$52,312: Median annual income from all sources for individuals who are 65 or older.
20%: Median increase in household wealth over a nine-year period for married people ages 70 and over who did not require long-term care.
-21%: Median decrease in household wealth over a nine-year period for married people ages 70 who had a long-term-care need.

State and Federal Funding
42%: Percentage of long-term-care services and support that were provided through Medicaid, 2016.
28%: Percentage of long-term-care services and support that were provided through other public sources, 2016.
8%: Percentage of long-term-care services and support that were provided through private insurance, 2016.
16%: Percentage of long-term-care services and support that were paid out of pocket, 2016.
62%: Percentage of nursing-home residents whose care is provided by Medicaid, 2015. 
30.2%: Percentage of Medicaid funding that went to pay long-term-care costs in 2017.
38%: Expected increase in Medicaid spending for long-term care between 2016 and 2026.
$130,380: Maximum "countable" assets that a healthy spouse can retain for the other spouse to be eligible for long-term-care benefits provided by Medicaid, 2021. (Actual amounts vary by state.)
$2,000: Maximum "countable" assets allowable for single individuals who are applying for long-term care provided by Medicaid, 2021. (New York state has a higher threshold: $15,750.)
$3,000: Maximum "countable" assets allowable for married couples who are applying together for long-term care provided by Medicaid, 2021.
$603,000: Maximum amount of home equity that a healthy spouse can retain, in addition to countable assets, for the other spouse to be eligible for long-term-care benefits provided by Medicaid, 2021. (The limit is higher in certain states, such as California.)
$3,259.50: Maximum amount of monthly income that a healthy spouse can receive for the other spouse to be eligible for long-term-care benefits provided by Medicaid, 2021. (Actual amounts vary by state.)

Caregivers
41 million: The number of people providing unpaid care for family members in the United States, 2015.
16 million: The number of people providing unpaid care for someone with Alzheimer's or other dementia.
16.8%: Percentage of Americans providing care to someone over age 50, 2020.
$470 billion: The estimated dollar value of long-term care provided by unpaid caregivers, 2013.
7.1: Average number of potential caregivers for every person age 80-plus, 2010.
4.1: Expected average number of potential caregivers for every person age 80-plus, 2030.
69.4: Average age of care recipient.
49.2: Average age of caregiver.
62.3: Average age of spousal caregivers.
34%: Percentage of caregivers who are age 65 or older.
Greater than 75%: Percentage of caregivers who are female.
Greater than 33%: Approximate percentage of caregivers for people with Alzheimer's or other dementias who are daughters.
25%: Approximate percentage of caregivers for people with Alzheimer's or other dementias who are "sandwich generation" caregivers, providing care to children as well as older adults.
14.5%: Percentage of caregivers who reported experiencing 14 or more mentally unhealthy days in the past month. (Mentally unhealthy is defined as stress, depression, and problems with emotions.) 
17.6%: Percentage of caregivers who reported experiencing 14 or more physically unhealthy days in the past month.
40.7%: Percentage of caregivers who reported having two or more chronic illnesses. 
33.0%: Percentage of caregivers who reported having a disability.
36.7%: Percentage of caregivers who reported getting insufficient sleep.
56.2%: Percentage of unpaid caregivers reporting anxiety or a depressive disorder during the COVID-19 pandemic.
34.7: Average number of hours per week worked by unpaid caregivers who have jobs in addition to caregiving.
70%: Percentage of caregivers who suffered work-related difficulties because of their caregiving duties.
10%: Estimated percentage of older adults who have suffered from some form of elder abuse.
7%: Estimated percentage of elder-abuse cases that are reported to authorities.

Long-Term-Care Insurance
57.7: Average age, long-term-care insurance policy purchase.
47.9%: Percentage of long-term-care insurance policies purchased by people between the ages of 55 and 64.
54.2%: Percentage of long-term-care policies purchased by women, 2019.
18.1%: Percentage of long-term-care policies purchased by single people, 2019.
21.0%: Percentage of new long-term-care policies sold through the workplace.
96.0%: Percentage of just-issued long-term-care policies that include home-care benefits that are at least equal to the in-facility benefit.
125: Number of insurers offering stand-alone long-term-care policies, 2000.
15: Number of insurers offering stand-alone long-term-care policies, 2016.
750,000: Number of individual long-term-care insurance policies sold, 2002.
54,563: Number of individual long-term-care insurance policies sold, 2019.
13.1%: Percentage drop in number of long-term-care policies sold, 2017-18.
228,000: Number of hybrid life/long-term-care policies sold to individuals, 2015.
461,000: Number of hybrid life/long-term-care policies sold to individuals, 2018. 
27%: Percentage of life insurance sales that are hybrid life/long-term-care policies, 2018.
64%: Percentage of long-term-care claims that were paid to women, 2018.
$1,870: Average annual long-term-care premium, 55-year-old male, initial pool of benefits worth $164,000.
$2,965: Average annual long-term-care premium, 55-year-old female, initial pool of benefits worth $164,000. 
8.1%: Percentage increase in long-term-care claims between 2018 and 2019. 
22%: Percentage of long-term-care applicants ages 50-59 who were declined coverage. 
37%: Percentage of long-term-care applicants ages 65-69 who were declined coverage.