Iowa Assisted Living

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Iowa Assisted Living: How to pay, Licensing and Questions to ask…

Iowa is ranked high for senior living. The lifestyle is laidback and easy. There’s almost no traffic in the major cities. The school system is top in the country with the highest graduation rates of any of the fifty states. The lack of state income tax and the lower costs for senior living bring more aging adults to the state each year. 18% of the state’s 3.3 million residents are aged 65 and older and with the passage of time it is likely that some will desire or require a change of scenery to simplify daily life. When most people think of senior care and housing they usually envision a nursing home. However, nursing homes are not the only choice you have when the time comes to move a loved one. Assisted living in Iowa provides your loved one the benefit of security and peace of mind. These communities are a specific level of care in a community setting. Maintaining what independence is possible while supporting whatever needs are required is the main objective of Iowa assisted living communities.

Iowa is home to several cities which provide excellent senior healthcare: Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Ames, Iowa City, Ankeny, among others.

As we mentioned, there are a variety of types and levels of care aside from a nursing home or an assisted living community. It’s good to be informed as you find the right fit for your loved one.

Common terms that differentiate levels and types of senior living: 

  • Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs)- typically include independent living, assisted living, residential care and skilled nursing services all on one campus.  
     
  • Independent Living Communities – provide residents a setting without the burden of home ownership. Residents commonly live in fully equipped private apartments or cottages from a studio to large two-bedroom units.  
     
  • Care Home or Adult Family Care Home- are private residences in a home-like setting that provide care services to a smaller more limited number of residents (typically 5-12 residents, depending on each state’s regulations). 
     
  • Assisted Living- provides housing and supportive care in a community setting, but the residents do not require 24-hour nursing care. 
     
  • Memory Care- a care setting for residents with memory loss or confusion. The community typically has a “secured” entry for residents that may wander. This care can be provided in different care settings depending on the state licensing requirements. 
     
  • Skilled Nursing is state licensed to provide a safe, therapeutic environment for people who require rehabilitative care 24 hours a day.

Assisted living in Iowa

Most Assisted Living Communities will provide a bedroom, restroom, meals, and assistance with care. Additionally, the size and amenities of each community can vary greatly and affect cost.

Residents may experience increased socialization, classes for health and fitness, and quality nutrition plans. Different service plans and the requirements of your loved one affect provided services and how individual plans are structured.

Assisted living in Iowa is structured similarly to all other states. Federally, The most common universal term is assisted living. The lay person sometimes groups all senior housing into the term of “nursing home.” Assisted living communities are NOT nursing homes.

What services are offered in assisted living in Iowa?

Residents may move into these communities to receive assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs): household chores and additional housekeeping, cooking, transportation, and some shopping. Iowa law supports residents with the written service plan, care related to health and the above mentioned ADLs.

Other possible services and amenities in Assisted Living

* All amenities will depend on the community.

Life enrichment: Activities should be provided for the enrichment of residents. Typically, these include light exercise, social opportunities, or spiritual programming.

Additional activities and amenities may include:

  • Clubs
  • Game nights
  • Classes 
  • Parties and other social events
  • Planned outings

Laws and regulations in Iowa

Housing

Single occupancy units must have single-action locks unless their application endangers the life of residents. In addition, units must provide a working toilet, a sink and bathing facilities.

Staffing

All assisted living facilities must always have a minimum of one qualified employee on staff at all times. All employees on duty must be awake and at the ready to perform all services and duties.

Expected monthly costs of assisted living in Iowa

The monthly cost of assisted living in Iowa ($4,375) is just slightly below the national average of $4,500.

  • National average cost of assisted living per month: $4,500
  • Iowa: $4,375
  • Minnesota: $4,525
  • Illinois: $4,500
  • Nebraska: $4,100
  • Missouri: $3,000

Across the state of Iowa, the average cost of assisted living stays close to the median, with only the major cities costing above the state and national average.

  • Des Moines: $4,810
  • Cedar Rapids: $4,750
  • Iowa City: $4,425
  • Davenport: $4,350

How to pay for assisted living in Iowa

You want to consider your payment options for assisted living, memory care, and care homes. For these services, Medicare is NOT an option for payment.

The most common payment for these services would be out of pocket Private Pay and assessing a combination of retirement funds, personal savings, and pension payments.

Medicaid can also be an option, be sure to see if you or a loved one qualifies.

Long-Term Care insurance is also a possible option in cases of chronic conditions, be sure to see if you or a loved one qualifies.

For our Veterans and spouses of veterans, be sure to assess Veteran Aid and your eligibility for these benefits.

Medicare – NO:

  • Medicare does NOT pay for Assisted Living.
  • People 65 years and older and individuals with end stage renal disease are eligible for Medicare benefits, no matter their income.
  • Coverage is meant for people in need of short-term care.

Private pay – YES:

  • Many families pay for assisted living with private funds.
  • Private pay can be a combination of retirement funds, personal savings, and pension payments.
  • Family members may contribute funds to pay for assisted living or other senior housing and care.

Medicaid – MAYBE:

  • Medicaid provides health coverage to millions of Americans. Eligible participants include: low-income adults, elderly adults and people with disabilities.
  • Medicaid is administered by state, according to federal requirements. The program is funded jointly by each state and the federal government.
  • Every state has their own individual Medicaid assistance program.
  • National guidelines are in place do decipher how states must spend Medicaid money, but with allowances toward the guidelines.
  • The state determines what levels of care will be covered by Medicaid, who is eligible, and how much the state will reimburse the care community.
  • If you are unsure whether you qualify for Medicaid, you should apply. You may be eligible depending on your household income, family size, age, disability and other factors.

Long-term Care Insurance – MAYBE:

Long term care insurance is a great way to pay for assisted living, and planning ahead is important when considering how to pay for senior housing and care. Nearly 75% of people over the age of 65 will require long-term care and services at some point. Buying into long-term care insurance when a person is in their 50s and 60s is the most common time to do so.

  • Long-term care insurance helps cover the costs of chronic medical conditions.
  • Individuals and couples with the ability to pay into long-term care insurance have the advantage of a head start in allocating funds for senior care.

Veteran Aid and Assistance – MAYBE:

This benefit is available to some military veterans and surviving spouses who live in an assisted living community and those who have in-home care.

  • There are specific guidelines, but a veteran may qualify for as much as $2,050 each month.
  • A veteran with a sick spouse may be eligible for $1,600 per month.
  • If a veteran has passed, their surviving spouse can qualify for $1,300 per month.

Questions to Ask

Finding an assisted living community can be overwhelming. Here are some tips on things to be observant of:

  • Make sure the facility is clean and well maintained. You can tell a lot about the operation by noting what is clean and maintained. Are doorknobs loose or damaged? Do you see any frayed carpet or trip hazards?
  • Visit during lunch hour to observe what the residents are eating. Ask questions about the nutrition program. Is there diversity in meals, healthy fruits and vegetables served at all meals, drink options?
  • Speak to residents and/or family members to learn their perspective.
  • Ask about staff and resident engagement. Get a feel for how staff interact with residents.
  • Ask about the life enrichment programs. Activities are crucial when it comes to quality of life and play a key role in care for older adults.
  • And finally (along with a plethora of more things to consider), get to know the leadership in the building. If you feel good around the Executive Director, Head Nurse, Lead Activities Director and even the Chef or Janitor, it is a good sign you can trust them with the care of your loved one.

Assisted Living: Questions and inquiries when visiting communities and facilities

  • Do the admission criteria match my needs?
  • Have I reviewed the terms of the financial/provider agreement?
  • Is the unused portion of the rent refunded upon transfer/discharge?
  • Do I have a choice in the selection of medical/health care providers if additional services are needed?
  • Are the specific services offered Clearly identified in the agreement?
  • Have I reviewed The House rules?
  • Have I reviewed all of the reasons for which I may be transferred of discharged?
  • Is the bedroom private or shared?
  • Is the bathroom private or shared?
  • Are the shared areas clean?
  • Is there space for personal belongings?
  • Does the floor plan allow for easy mobility for me?
  • Are there private areas other than the bedroom for visits?
  • Is bathroom safety equipment installed or available if needed? (grab bars, raised toilet seat)
  • Is there a call system?
  • Are walkers/wheelchairs permitted?
  • Are hallways and doorways wide enough for wheelchairs?
  • Am I involved in the care planning process?
  • Is my family/responsible party involved?
  • Is my physician or other health provider involved?
  • Are the care plans updated to reflect changes in care needs?

Iowa Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Iowa HHS provides high quality programs and services that protect and improve the health and resiliency of individuals, families, and communities.

Iowa Department on Aging  The Iowa Department on Aging strives to improve the quality of life of older Iowans by connecting them to services provided by Iowa’s six Area Agencies on Aging. Learn how you or your loved one can connect to nutrition services, caregiver support, case management, and more

Iowa Senior Health Insurance Information Program  Senior Health Insurance Information Program can help find answers to questions you have on Medicare, Medicare supplement insurance, long term care insurance, and other health insurance issues.

State Long-Term Care Ombudsman A Long Term Care Ombudsman is an advocate for residents of nursing homes, residential care facilities, assisted living programs and elder group homes. The Ombudsman’s Office can investigate and resolve complaints that may affect the health, safety, welfare, or right of residents. Whether through individual contact with residents or systemic advocacy, ombudsmen make a difference in the lives of residents in long term care facilities everyday.

Eldercare Locator This is a great resource to search for specific care in specific counties and cities. This database is a nationwide resource that connects older Americans and their caregivers with trustworthy local support resources. Connect with services such as meals, home care or transportation, or a caregiver education or respite from caregiving responsibilities. The Eldercare Locator is a public service of the Administration on Aging (AoA), an agency of the U.S. Administration for Community Living.

Medicare provides a search feature to find & compare providers near you, most senior housing and care providers are included on CareAvailability.com. Find & compare plans in your area. Determine if you qualify for premium savings

Medicaid offers information on how to apply for Medicaid, eligibility criteria, links to local state offices, and additional resources

The Alzheimer’s Association is the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support, and research. Whether you are living with Alzheimer’s or caring for someone with the disease, information and resources are available.

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Written by The Care Availability Team
Experts in the senior care & retirement living industries

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