Arizona has long been a popular retirement destination, thanks to its pleasant weather with low humidity, iconic Southwestern topography, tax-friendly environment for older adults, and abundance of activity and lifestyle options for retirees. From the award-winning golf courses of Scottsdale to the high desert wine country around Cottonwood to the mystic red rocks of Sedona, Arizona has something for everyone.
Retirees looking for assisted living options in Arizona can use this guide to learn more about what’s available, how to pay for it, and how to choose the right facility.
Assisted living communities in Arizona are for older adults who want to and can maintain their independence but need some help with daily living activities, meals, and household chores. The Division of Publish Health Licensing Services within the Bureau of Residential Facilities Licensing regulates all assisted living facilities in the state. Arizona offers one universal license with six sub-categories based on the size and the level of care provided. The three major classifications are:
The primary differentiator between these types of facilities is the size of the facility. An adult foster care home is typically where the caregiver lives and where care is provided for up to four people. An assisted living home provides care for up to ten people, and an assisted living center provides care for 11 or more people.
More broadly defined, an assisted living facility is a residential care institution that either directly provides or contracts to provide one of three services: supervisory care services, personal care services, or directed care services.
Each resident must be provided with a written service plan, which must be completed within 14 days after the resident is accepted. This plan is developed and reviewed with the resident or the resident’s representative, the facility manager, and anyone requested by the resident or the resident’s representative. The service plan includes a description of the resident’s medical and health condition, any impairments the resident has, the level of service the resident will receive, medication they’ll take, or medication assistance that the resident will need.
Residents admitted to an assisted living facility in Arizona:
Food-related requirements are fairly broad. Facilities must provide food and snacks that meet the resident’s nutritional or therapeutic dietary needs according to their service plan. Any resident requiring specific eating equipment or utensils must be provided with what is required to eat.
To provide a safe environment for their residents, communities have staffing requirements.
Assisted living facility staff must be capable of providing all services required, including behavioral health services and care, assistance with ADLs, and any ancillary services needed by residents. There must be sufficient staff present at all times to provide consistent service according to the facility’s license category listed above. At least one manager or caregiver must be present and awake when any resident is on the premises.
Apartment-style housing is not required in Arizona. The assisted living centers with 11 or more residents may provide single or double occupancy units or bedrooms. Each unit must have keyed entry, a bathroom, a resident-controlled thermostat, and a kitchen area, including a sink, refrigerator, a place for food preparation, and a cooking appliance that can be removed or disconnected.
An assisted living home with up to 10 residents typically must have a resident’s sleeping area on the home’s ground floor. The resident may be on another floor if the resident can navigate to the sleeping area without help, and there are two unobstructed exits to the outside that the resident can use. All facilities require one toilet, sink, and shower for every eight residents.
The services provided in assisted living communities generally come under three broad categories: personal care, medical care, and amenities.
Most people move to assisted living communities because they’re looking for easy access to personal care. These services assist with activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, walking, and toileting. Communities also provide supervision and can deliver care for unforeseen needs or in cases of emergencies.
In Arizona, ALFs must provide care and services in the resident’s care plan. This can include coordinating medical care and appointments. Communities may also deliver health services, with 60% of communities providing skilled nursing. Many have health care specialists and on-site services, with 42% of communities offering dental care. In addition, 66% of ALFs have hospice services.
ALFs may provide specialized care for people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. These special care units have additional security measures to ensure residents don’t wander, which is a common symptom of Alzheimer’s disease. Typically, they also offer programs designed to improve cognitive function and routines that help lower stress.
Mental health issues are a growing consideration for communities, and services to address these concerns are becoming more common. In Arizona, 84% of communities conduct depression screenings, and 43% offer mental health counseling. Social work programs are also found in 42% of ALFs. Social workers can provide counseling, conduct assessments, and help ensure residents can access all the necessary resources.
The Arizona Area Agency on Aging maintains the ElderVention® program, which provides Arizona residents with various mental health services designed to promote good emotional and mental health. Older adults can receive in-home counseling from licensed clinical social workers and attend support groups for those in similar situations. The program also educates those who work with or regularly interact with older adults. Older adults themselves can reach out for help by calling the 24-hour Senior Helpline at (602) 264-HELP (4357) or toll-free at (888) 783-7500.
A primary service of assisted living that benefits residents is receiving help with activities of daily living (ADLs). These are fundamental tasks that a person must do regularly to sustain life and general health, including toileting, bathing or showering, dressing, transferring (getting in and out of bed or a chair), ambulating (walking), and eating. Signs that a person may benefit from living in assisted living include increased isolation, loss of mobility, noticeable weight loss or gain, and/or neglecting household chores.
Residents in Arizona’s assisted living communities often receive help with their ADLs. In Arizona, 14% of residents need help with eating. Other commonly used services include bed transfer (33%), toileting (35%) and walking (53%). Caregivers in ALFs help 42% of residents dress and help 49% bathe.
Some facilities provide medication assistance. This assistance ranges from the administration of the medication to the monitoring of self-administration and the procurement of medication. Trained caregivers and certified managers may administer medication based on physician orders and training. Assistance with self-administration includes reminders for residents to take medications, opening the medication container or organizer, and observing that the resident removes the medication properly from its container or organizer.
The average cost of assisted living care in Arizona is $4,000 per month. This cost is $500 lower than the monthly national average of $4,500 per month. The cost of living in Arizona is more than the national average by 3.2%, with health care costs less than the national average by 2.1% and housing costs more than the national average by 7.7%.
The level of care a person requires impacts the cost of care, as does where you live. The cost of assisted living ranges from a low of $3,800 in the Yuma area to a high of $5,000 per month in the Flagstaff area of Arizona.
Living close to one of Arizona’s borders may make assisted living in a neighboring state an affordable option. Seniors in Nevada pay around $3,750 per month, while costs in Arizona average $4,000. Colorado’s prices are above the Arizona state average, at $4,750.
How to Pay For Assisted Living
The Bureau of Residential Facilities Licensing licenses and regulates long-term facilities in Arizona. The agency maintains an online complaint portal and updates its database every month to include information about violations of rules and regulations. Older adults and their families with concerns about assisted living facilities can contact the Arizona Long-Term Ombudsman for free and confidential investigations.
Unfortunately, older adults are vulnerable to increased scams and fraudulent activity. The Arizona Senior Citizens Law Project partners with regional Area Agencies on Aging to provide legal assistance to older adults for civil matters. Some of the issues they help with include consumer fraud, filing appeals for denials of public benefits, and guardianship issues. People can report abuse and neglect to the Arizona Attorney General and non-emergency physical abuse to Arizona Adult Protective Services.
Assisted living facilities in Arizona must operate within the provisions of the Arizona Administrative Code. Facilities must comply with regulations concerning standards of cleanliness, caregiver hygiene, medication distribution and storage, HVAC safety, staffing ratios, food preparation, emergency protocols, and medical recordkeeping. The Arizona Department of Health Services monitors and licenses all long-term care facilities in the state.
Assisted living facility administrators in Arizona must be at least 21 years of age and have one year of experience working in health care. Administrators must institute state-approved staff programs that include 12 hours per year of continuing education. All staff members, including volunteers, must pass a background check within 20 days of being hired. Those convicted of a felony, domestic violence, or abusive or exploitative behavior will not be allowed to work.
Arizona Department of Health Services
Arizona Long-Term Care Ombudsman
Long-Term Care Provider Search Form
There are 120 assisted living facilities in AZ and the median cost of care is $4,000. The average rating of assisted living facilities in Arizona is 3 out of 5 stars and the top ranked facility is Copper Place.
2620 N 68th St, Scottsdale, AZ, 85257
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16621 N 38th St, Phoenix, AZ, 85032
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2675 N Wyatt Dr, Tucson, AZ, 85712
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2985 S. Camino Del Sol, Green Valley, AZ, 85622
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3850 North US Highway 89, Prescott, AZ, 86301
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6775 W. Happy Valley Road, Peoria, AZ, 85383
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13822 South 46th Place, Phoenix, AZ, 85044
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750 N McDowell Blvd, Petaluma, CA, 94954
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