EBRI: Extended Nursing Home Stays Send Retirees to the Poor House

More Americans aged 65 and older have been entering nursing homes or other long-term care facilities in the past decade, and those who do experience a fast and steady decline in household wealth, according to an Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) issue brief on the Effects of Nursing Home Stays on Household Portfolios

Nursing home stays among retirees have increased steadily in the last ten years, increasing from 6% in 2000 to 8.5% in 2010 among those aged 65 and older, and that trend doesn’t bode well for retirement portfolios. 

“One of the biggest health expenditure shocks a retired individual can experience is entry into a nursing home,” says Sudipto Banerjee, the report’s author. 


Compared to those who did not enter a nursing home, those who did saw their assets and wealth decline, as nursing home stays have “strong and statistically significant negative effects on every type of household asset holdings except higher-risk assets such as stocks, bonds, and mutual funds,” the report found. 

The median total household wealth of nursing home residents falls substantially in the two years following entrance, especially compared to those who have not had nursing home stays. 



After spending six months or more in a nursing home, the median total household wealth of those being studied was only $5,518. Six years into a stay, residents’ median housing wealth fell to zero. 

Check out the full EBRI Issue Brief.

Written by Alyssa Gerace

Companies featured in this article: