Due to its low crime rates, low cost of living, and higher-than-average life expectancy for residents, Iowa ranked as the top state for retirees in 2020. The Hawkeye State also has low median home prices and a large population of active older adults.
Iowa has several housing options for individuals who need a little help with personal care and health-related tasks. This guide introduces the main types of senior care available, describes some programs that can help cover the cost of care, and includes resources for people who need health care, mental health services, or legal advice.
In Iowa, older adults have access to in-home care, adult day care, and several residential care options. Each type of care offers a different level of supervision, ensuring people get the proper care for their needs.
Assisted Living Facilities (ALFs)
When a loved one can no longer live independently, an assisted living provider can be a good option. Assisted living residences are for residents who would like to, and can, maintain some independence but need help with meals, housekeeping, and some of the activities of daily living (ADLs), such as showering, getting dressed, or personal hygiene. In Iowa, a typical assisted living facility houses between 40 and 300 residents.
According to §231C of the Iowa Administrative Code, assisted living is a type of housing that includes personal services and has response staff available 24 hours per day to respond to residents’ scheduled and unscheduled needs. Assisted living communities provide a homelike environment and encourage residents to participate as much as possible in their care. Residents of assisted living typically receive three meals per day, help with activities of daily living, and transportation to medical offices, banks, barbers or salons, and other local destinations. Some communities also have nurses or other licensed professionals on site to provide health-related services.
The Iowa Department of Inspections & Appeals must certify every assisted living community. To obtain a provisional license, an applicant must obtain state fire marshal approval and complete a successful structural and evacuation review, submit documentation regarding the proposed ALF, and pay an application fee. The ALF may start accepting residents and providing services if the state approves the provisional certification.
Within 180 calendar days of the ALF’s approval date, the Iowa Department of Inspections & Appeals conducts a monitoring inspection to determine if the ALF complies with state operating requirements. If the ALF is in compliance, the Department of Inspections & Appeals will issue a full two-year certification. The ALF must renew this certification every two years for as long as the ALF operates.
Difference Between Assisted Living and Residential Care Homes
In Iowa as in most states there is a difference between Assisted Living facilities and Residential Care Homes. The two key differences are that the Residential Care home is much smaller than the ALF with the typical home being assigned 3 of 4 senior residents. The cost of residential care homes may be less than a typical assisted living facility.
Independent living communities are a good housing option for seniors who can still live independently but want to downsize. Each resident or couple lives in a private unit, and most communities offer social programs so residents can meet their neighbors. Housekeeping, chores, and some meals may be provided, although these may incur an additional cost. Unlike the care given in an assisted living community, assistance with activities of daily living and medication management aren’t available in these communities.
Nursing homes offer the highest level of care of all senior living options. These communities provide around-the-clock supervision and skilled nursing care, and medical help is available. Generally, people in nursing homes have complex medical issues or need more residential care than is offered in an assisted living facility. Iowa has both skilled nursing facilities (SNF) for people who require 24-hour care and intermediate care facilities (ICF) for people who don’t need as much medical care. The average cost of nursing home care in the state is $6,874 for a semiprivate room and $7,452 for a private room.
Many seniors prefer to choose a community that will continue to meet their needs in the future. Continuing care retirement communities have independent living, assisted living, and nursing home facilities on the same property or owned by the same community. This model allows seniors to stay near their friends in familiar surroundings, even as their needs change. The care provided in the assisted living section of a CCRC is the same as in any assisted living community. The difference is that residents can easily move to a skilled nursing room if required. Often, CCRCs are bigger than ACHs, as they encompass more care options.
Supportive Housing facilities are residential facilities designed for older adults or persons with disabilities who are unable to live independently. These individuals need help with toileting, bathing, dressing, medication management and administration, assistance with meals and housekeeping and other activities of daily living. These individuals do not need regular nursing care. There are several housing options available that range from living in a facility to residents living in their own home or apartment, with community-based support services.
In Iowa, some older adults attend adult day care programs, which offer a variety of services with trained caregivers. This type of care is in a community setting, giving participants a chance to interact with other people while receiving personal care and health-related services. Each adult day care center must provide a set of core services to all participants, including personal care, therapeutic activities, social services, and nursing care.
Adult day care differs from assisted living because it’s only available during limited daily hours. Assisted living is a full-time residential care option that gives seniors around-the-clock access to trained staff members. Due to the difference in the amount of care provided, adult day care is one of the least expensive types of senior care available in Iowa, costing an average of $1,353 per month in 2021.
There are two types of in-home care available in Iowa: homemaker services and home healthcare. Homemaker services generally provide personal care and may also help with errands, chores, and housekeeping. Home healthcare can deliver these services and also offer medical care such as skilled nursing and medication management. Unlike assisted living care, in-home care is provided to people in their homes, making it a good choice for those who prefer to age in place. However, it doesn’t give seniors access to the social and recreational programming of assisted living communities. The average cost of homemaker services is $5,529 per month and the average cost of a home health aide is $5,577 per month.
There are over 50 assisted living facilities in Iowa with over 1,700 licensed beds. There are a number of companies that operate or manage several assisted living facilities in the state. Arlington Place operates 7 communities in the state, Bickford operates 12, Edencrest operates 6 communities, Prarie Hills operates 11 facilities and Sunnybrook operates 6 communities in the state.
The Department of Inspections & Appeals oversees assisted living communities in Iowa. This state agency conducts an inspection within 180 days of the date an ALF starts accepting residents, every two years when an ALF is due for recertification, and any time it receives a complaint regarding an Iowa ALF. The Department of Inspections & Appeals also makes its inspection reports available to the public, making it easier for individuals and their loved ones to choose a community with an excellent reputation. The Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman also resolves complaints about assisted living communities and advocates for quality care in assisted living and other residential settings.
All assisted living communities must be certified by the Department of Inspections & Appeals. To qualify for certification, an ALF must meet stringent requirements regarding admissions, care plans, dietary services, and staffing. For example, an ALF isn’t permitted to accept a resident with an uncontrolled mental illness or needs more than part-time health care for longer than 21 days. Meals provided to assisted living residents must meet the National Academy of Science Food and Nutrition Board’s nutritional standards. Although Iowa doesn’t have a minimum staff-to-resident ratio, every ALF must have a program manager responsible for staffing and daily operations.
The average cost of assisted living care in Iowa is $4,367 per month. This is about $130 lower than the national average of $4,500. The cost of living in Iowa is a little over 10% lower than the national average with healthcare costs averaging the same as the national average cost and housing costs are 24% lower than the national average. The exact price of care differs depending on where in the state you’re located. Costs in Iowa don’t have a big range in price but the costs range from $4,350 in Davenport to $4,803 in Des Moines.
If you live close to one of Iowa’s borders, you may find assisted living in a neighboring state is an affordable option. Most of Iowa’s neighboring states have similar average prices to Iowa’s but you might find something in Missouri that is less expensive. Missouri’s average cost is $3,000 per month. Nebraska is also less expensive with a state-wide average cost to $4,076. Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin all have similar average costs to Iowa’s average. Be sure to do your research to find the most affordable community to suit your needs.
The average cost of assisted living in Iowa is around $52,000 per year, so, understandably, you or a family member may be wondering how to pay for care. A range of options is available to fund senior housing in the state.
Selling a home is a common way for seniors to raise funds for assisted living care. Income from pensions and Social Security may also pay for some care. Other examples of private funds include your retirement accounts, mutual funds, and other investments.
In Iowa, some older adults may qualify for the State Supplementary Assistance program, which uses state funds to supplement the amount of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) a resident receives each month. This program is available to Iowa residents aged, blind, or disabled according to the SSI standards. Applicants must also meet the program’s income requirements; A single person’s assets must be worth no more than $2,000, and a couple’s assets must be worth less than $3,000. Recipients may use supplemental assistance to pay for in-home care or care provided in a residential setting.
Long-term care insurance covers personal care, residential care, and other long-term support and services. Each plan is different; however, most offer a daily amount based on the policy that pays for assistance with activities of daily living. Most people buy a policy in their 50s or 60s and access it when required. If you or your family member has a policy, read it carefully to see what care it covers.
Iowa has one Veterans Home around the state located in Marshalltown. These homes provide skilled nursing care to residents of Iowa who served in the military. The state’s Department of Military and Veterans Affairs also has offices around the state where team members can help people obtain benefits and services. This includes the Aid and Attendance Benefit, which can help qualified veterans fund personal care.
Elderlife Financial can help you understand how to pay for assisted living.
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 look 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 Iowa, ACHs 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 47% of communities providing skilled nursing. Many have healthcare specialists and on-site services, with 77% of communities offering dental care. In addition, 63% of ACHs have hospice services.
ACHs 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, 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 Iowa, 0% of communities conduct depression screening, and 61% offer mental health counseling. Social work programs are also found in 63% of ACHs. Social workers can provide counseling, conduct assessments, and help ensure residents have access to all the resources they need.
Amenities refer to other features and services of the community. ACHs offer three meals a day and coordinate activity programs to help residents stay active and connected with each other, families, and the community. Iowa facilities must also provide transportation and laundry services and may offer housekeeping services.
Older adults in Iowa have access to several wellness resources to help them stay active and healthy. The Iowa Department of Aging offers dietary counseling and operates a meal program for people aged 60 and over. This program gives participants access to nutritious meals and additional opportunities for socialization. Iowa’s Area Agencies on Aging also offer programs and referrals to help older Iowans maintain good health. These programs include Tai Chi for Arthritis, Stepping On, and A Matter of Balance.
Many people travel to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, located in Iowa City, which ranks nationally in four adult specialties. UIHC ranks 47th in the nation for cancer care, 23rd in the nation for ENT services, 41st in the nation for gynecology care, and seventh in the nation for ophthalmology. People also have access to MercyOne Des Moines Medical Center, UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s Hospital, and Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids, along with smaller regional hospitals, urgent care centers, and outpatient clinics.
Several government agencies and nonprofit organizations offer behavioral health services to help people with depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions. Available services include case management, counseling, and behavioral health support. Older adults interested in these services should contact a local Area Agency on Aging for referrals to providers throughout Iowa. Foundation 2 Crisis Services operates a hotline staffed by trained counselors 24 hours per day. Those seeking help can also contact Your Life Iowa for free and confidential support with mental health disorders and addictions.
The decision to move into an assisted living community can be difficult. Generally, you’ll notice changes in your loved ones that suggest they need some assistance. Signs that this environment could be beneficial include increased isolation, loss of mobility, noticeable weight loss or gain, and signs that they’re neglecting household chores.
Your older family member may be the one to start talking about assisted living. For many seniors, the idea of moving into a home where cooking, laundry, and other chores are taken care of is appealing. For seniors who realize they need help with daily tasks, the addition of personal care may come as a relief. In Iowa, 10% of residents need help with eating. Other commonly used services include bed transfer (7%), toileting (16%) and walking (38%). Caregivers in ACHs help 20% of residents to dress, and 53% of residents need help bathing.
If you think your family member would benefit from assisted living, start by talking about it openly. Highlight the positives of a move, such as social activities, cooked meals, and easily accessible assistance. Some ACHs provide respite care, which may allow your family member to have a trial run. Remember, this should be a conversation, not a lecture. Stay open to their opinion. If they’re not ready to transition to assisted living, talk about the care they need to stay at home.
The Department of Inspections & Appeals (DIA) has the authority to oversee assisted living communities operating in Iowa. This agency protects people by ensuring that each assisted living community follows the rules for admitting residents and providing assisted living services. When a new resident arrives at an ALF, staff members must provide a written occupancy agreement that lists all the services it will provide, how much those services cost, and how the resident can file a grievance. The DIA also has staffing requirements to ensure that assisted living residents always have help available if they need it. For example, at least one qualified employee must always be present and awake, no matter what time of day it is, to meet the needs of residents as soon as they arise.
The term “elder law” is often associated with estate planning, trusts, and helping obtain benefits through Medicare or Medicaid. Unfortunately, the field has grown to include cases involving elder abuse, elder neglect, and exploitation. Skilled attorneys can help older adults affected by these issues.
Iowa Legal Aid operates a hotline for residents aged 60 years old and over and have limited financial resources. Attorneys are available to help with evictions, debt settlement, and other civil matters. Iowa’s Area Agencies on Aging also provide referrals to seniors in need of legal advice.
There are 107 assisted living facilities in IA and the median cost of care is $4,578. The average rating of assisted living facilities in Iowa is 3 out of 5 stars and the top ranked facility is Allen Place.
3515 Diana Queen Drive, Muscatine, IA, 52761
Pet Friendly, Housekeeping, Activity Center, Clubs & Communities,
920 West Garfield Street, Clarinda, IA, 51632
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5175 West Avenue, Burlington, IA, 52601
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1117 Maxhelen Blvd, Waterloo, IA, 50702
Outdoor Areas, Housekeeping, Social Outings, Parking, Beauty & Barber,
173 E. Rochester, Ottumwa, IA, 52501
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1325 Coconino Road, Ames, IA, 50014
Outdoor Areas, Housekeeping, Pool, Fitness Programs, Clubs & Communities,
1642 South G Ave, Nevada, IA, 50201
2609 Nicklaus Blvd, Sioux City, IA, 51106
Outdoor Areas, Activity Center,
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