Many people have to spend at least some time living in a nursing home in the later years of their life. These homes give them a chance to have social groups, get around-the-clock care and live in a comfortable, safe setting — something they may not have in their own home. Aging makes things like driving, shopping, showering and doing home maintenance not just difficult, but dangerous. A nursing home is a great way to solve all of those issues at once.

That said, it’s more expensive to live in a nursing home than many people realize. If you just assume you’ll figure out how to cover the costs when you need to move in, you could be in line for an unpleasant surprise.

Someone who wants to have their own private room may need to pay more than $100,000 annually for that privilege. Spending five years in a nursing home would cost about half a million dollars. For a semi-private room, it’s still just under — $90,000 on average. Even spending a single year there could be a significant portion of the money you have set aside for that purpose.

It’s hard to predict a lot of things about the future. How much will you need to pay? How long will you stay there? Will you need any special care that increases the costs? What you can do is plan ahead. You need to know about all of the options you have when thinking about long-term care costs and other aspects of elder law.

Likewise, if you are an adult child who is considering elder care planning for your parents, you need to understand the options you have.