Older Adults with Children Spend Less on SNF Care

Older adults bracing themselves for the costs of long-term care can breathe a little easier if they have children, according to a study conducted by the RAND Center for the Study of Aging, which was recently highlighted in a Bloomberg article.

The study found that the median stay at SNFs was 10 days, and that the average 57-year-old would need to save $7,344 to cover out-of-pocket spending for skilled nursing care. However, Bloomberg notes that the study assumes the amount would grow by an inflation-adjusted 3% each year until the saver turns 77; if you assume no long-term returns, that same 57-year-old would need to stock away $18,000.

For older adults with children, however, the time spent in SNFs, as well as actual out-of-pocket spending is lower compared to their childless counterparts.


Older adults with children spend an average of 279 days in a SNF; those without children spend an average of 233 days.

In terms of costs, older adults with one to three children, for example, spend a lifetime average of $6,400 out-of-pocket for skilled nursing care; those with four or more children spend an average of approximately $5,500. On the flip side, childless older adults spend an average of roughly $8,900.

The study also highlighted another way family dynamics affect the cost of aging: Those with daughters have a lifetime average out-of-pocket expense of approximately $6,100 for skilled-nursing care, versus $6,700 for those who do not have daughters.


The average cost and duration of stay highlighted in the RAND study, however, are skewed by a tiny percentage of older adults whose care needs are much greater than average, according to the Bloomberg article.

Further, the article points out that having children has no effect on the likelihood of an older adult experiencing a SNF stay — only that they postpone entry and play a role in speeding up their parent’s recovery.

In addition, the RAND study points out that only 32% of older adults who experienced a SNF stay had out-of-pocket costs, with private insurance, Medicaid, and other public insurance options covering the entire expense.

Written by Carlo Calma

Companies featured in this article: