Americans' likelihood of requiring SNF care 'substantially' higher than thought, study finds

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The average American's risk of needing skilled nursing care at some point in their life is 60% greater than previous studies have shown, according to new research.

For adults currently between ages 57 and 61, well over half will stay in a skilled nursing facility at some point in their lives, according to study results published Monday by the RAND Corporation. Previous studies based on government data have estimated that percentage as closer to 35%, the study's authors said.

The researchers' increased estimate may be due to a recent shift toward shorter nursing home stays, as hospitals seek to reign in their costs by discharging patients to nursing facilities sooner, researchers noted. The study found that short nursing home stays of 21 nights or fewer increased by six percentage points from 1998 to 2010, to almost 34%.

The full results appear in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.