Page Reviewed / Updated - Feb. 2014
The goal of this webpage is to help Georgia residents understand long term care costs in the state including assisted living, in-home, Alzheimer's and adult day care. It is also to make them aware of the financial assistance programs that help pay for care and options that can reduce the cost of care, prescription drugs and home medical equipment.
In Georgia, the cost of assisted living on a monthly basis in 2013 was approximately $2,703, this is nearly 25% below the national average of $3,450 per month. Even still, cost saving can be achieved by identifying areas within the state where it is less expensive. These areas include Augusta, Albany and Warner Robins where the monthly cost ranges from $1,800 - $2,000. The highest monthly cost for assisted living is found in Brunswick, Dalton and Hinesville at $3,475, $3,180 and $4,600, respectively.
Unfortunately, Alzheimer's care in an assisted living community is more costly. This is likely due to the higher level of supervision required to prevent wandering and self-injury. While this data is not available at the local level in Georgia, it is our estimate that Alzheimer's care increases the monthly cost between $600 - $900.
The average hourly rate in 2013 for home care in Georgia was $17 just $1 below the national average and nowhere near the dramatic difference found for assisted living. Fort Stewart, Savannah and Atlanta-Marietta have the highest hourly rates, though less expensive providers can still be found in those regions. Columbus, Albany and Macon have average hourly costs several dollars below the state average.
The average daily cost of adult day care in Georgia is $3 below the national average at $62 / day. However the lowest rates available in GA are well below average. Daily care for the elderly can be found as low as $30 / day. Unfortunately in many of the rural areas of the state, there is no adult day care available.
The State of Georgia currently does not provide direct (or cash) financial assistance to individuals in need of care, but several programs are offered which can reduce the recipients' cost of care or their need for care. This, effectively, serves as financial assistance in that these individuals can re-allocate the money they would have otherwise spent toward paying for care. To avoid confusion it is worth noting that these programs are referred to as Home and Community Based Services or HCBS. In many states, HCBS refers to a Medicaid Waiver program, but in Georgia it is the opposite, HCBS refers to the state's non-Medicaid assistance.
Services provided under HCBS which can reduce costs include congregate meals, home delivered meals, respite care, homemaker services (assistance with light household tasks) and sometimes personal care and personal emergency response (PER) services. These services are determined and delivered locally through the state's Area Agencies on Aging. Each area of the state may have different services and eligibility requirements.
Statewide, two programs exists that can also reduce the cost of care; GeorgiaCares and LIHEAP. GeorgiaCares helps residents reduce their cost of prescription drugs by assisting them in understanding their Medicare benefits as well as to navigate the confusing world of prescription drug assistance programs. LIHEAP helps low income residents, especially the aging, with their energy costs for heating and cooling their homes.
Background and Eligibility
Medicaid is a program designed to assist low income families in affording the cost of medical care. Long Term Care Medicaid is a program with less restrictive eligibility requirements that is intended to help the elderly and disabled with permanent, chronic or progressive conditions. In Georgia in 2014, Long Term Care Medicaid considers the applicant's financial status in addition to their functional need. The monthly income limit for a single applicant is limited to $2,163. The value of their financial assets, excluding their vehicle and their home, cannot be greater than $2,000.
Married applicants have similar requirements except in the case where one spouse is applying and the other is not. In this situation, there are two rules created to enable the non-applicant spouse to afford to continue living independently: the Minimum Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowance and the Community Spouse Resource Allowance.
Individuals whose resources are over Medicaid's published limits and married couples should consult with a professional Medicaid planner prior to application to ensure the best possibility of acceptance in the program and to ensure the healthy or non-applicant spouse has adequate resources to afford their cost of living.
There are two waivers in Georgia that enable elderly residents who might otherwise require nursing home care to receive a similar level of care but remain living at home or in an alternative living community, such as an assisted living residence. These are the CCSP and SOURCE Waivers. CCSP is short for Community Care Services Program. Under this waiver, participants can receive a variety of both medical and non-medical supports that help them remain independent. Learn more here. The SOURCE Waiver is short for Service Options Using Resources in a Community Environment. SOURCE provides a higher level of medical attention but less services in support of independent living. SOURCE is not available statewide. Details available here.
In addition to the state specific options that help pay for care, there are many non-profit and federal options. Use our Resource Locator Tool to find other programs that help pay for or reduce the cost of care. There are also programs that help veterans with assisted living and there are eldercare loans available in Georgia.
There is a great deal of variance in the cost of care in Georgia, even for the same type of care in the same geographic region. Families might reduce their care costs by 20% - 30% by choosing a more affordable care provider. To save families the effort of having to contact many different providers to locate the one most appropriate for their needs and budget, we have partnered with an organization that does this at no charge to the consumer. Get assistance finding affordable care in your area.