Page Reviewed / Updated - November 20, 2020
Columbia, South Carolina is known for its rich history and scenic parks that offer unparalleled views in the south. The warm climate allows seniors to explore historical sites all year such as the Hampton-Preston Mansion & Gardens or the Woodrow Wilson Family Home. It also allows seniors to visit some of Columbia’s most scenic parks such as Riverfront Park, which runs along the canal, or the breathtaking Lake Murray dam.
With a population of over 131,000, Columbia has all the charm of a large city, and around 9% of its population is over 65. Seniors are attracted to the area both for the low cost of living and the temperate climate. The Columbia Parks & Recreation department further supports local seniors by offering regular recreational events, social groups, and day trips designed to help encourage local seniors to stay engaged and active.
Keep reading to browse our list of the top 10 assisted living facilities in Columbia, SC.
Additionally, find out more about the cost of assisted living in Columbia and what financial assistance programs are available.
251 Springtree Drive
Columbia, SC 29223
Conveniently located near the junction of Interstate 20 and Route 277, Brookdale Columbia is also just a few minutes away from the Columbia Place Mall. Despite its close proximity to restaurants and highways, the assisted living community offers seniors a walkable neighborhood in a residential neighborhood. Throughout the day seniors can be spotted at the outdoor fishing pond, eating chef-prepared restaurant-style meals in the community dining area or chatting by the fireside with family members. All residents have individual care plans and enjoy apartments with wall-to-wall carpet, and housekeeping included.
731 Polo Road
Columbia, SC 29223
Wildewood Downs is a luxury continuing care retirement community that offers resort-like amenities and lush accommodations that are spread out across a 37-acre gated community. Located just a few blocks from the Sesquicentennial State Park, seniors don’t have to leave the community to enjoy the lavish outdoors. Instead, they can meander along landscaped walkways and stop for a chat at the gazebo or birdwatch near one of three ponds. Assisted living residents are treated to three meals a day in an elegant dining hall, assistance with daily activities, upscale accommodations and medication management. We included Wildewood Downs on our list for its stunning landscaping and lavish amenities.
2300 Clemson Road
Columbia, SC 29229
Situated in a quiet residential area next to Crane Creek, The Harmony Collection at Columbia is an upscale senior retirement community that offers a variety of resort-like amenities including an on-site pub and bistro, salon and a fitness center. Flexible meal plans allow residents to grab a casual bite in the afternoon followed by a formal chef-prepared dinner or vice versa. Each modern apartment also features a full kitchen so residents can lightly snack as they like. Assisted living residents receive discreet assistance with the daily activities of living along with housekeeping and laundry services. We placed The Harmony Collection on our list of top 10 facilities for its modern but elegant approach to senior living.
51 Woodcross Drive
Columbia, SC 29212
Located across the street from Walmart and just a stone’s throw away from the Harbison Place Walking Trail and Lake, the Brookdale Harbison is a modern assisted living community that provides daily assistance with the activities of daily life so that seniors can focus their energy on enjoying the day. Active seniors take part in scheduled outings to places like the Riverbanks Zoo or meander towards the lake where they can find park benches that offer scenic views. They can also bask in the sun within the onsite landscaped courtyard that features walking paths and a personal fishing pond. We placed Brookdale Harbison on our list for its great access to natural beauty and nearby shopping plazas.
4405 Forest Drive
Columbia, SC 29206
Just a few blocks west of the Trader Joe’s and Publix Super Market shopping plazas, Atria Forest Lake is an upscale independent living, assisted living and memory care facility that offers a walkable neighborhood and high-class amenities. Assisted living residents enjoy individual care plans, assistance with daily activities and maintenance-free apartments equipped with walk-in showers. Throughout the day residents can be spotted in the courtyard enjoying the captivating fountain, enjoying a meal in the community dining hall or a snack on the patio or receiving a manicure at the full-service on-site salon.
100 Finley Road
Columbia, SC 29203
Located just north of the Spur of Northwoods Golf Club, Rice Estate is a nonprofit continuing care community that allows seniors to gracefully age in place by providing assistance and a daily assortment of activities. Residents can partake in daily activities like bingo, get their hair trimmed at the on-site salon, bask in the sun in the interior courtyard or explore the highly walkable neighborhood. Assisted living residents receive varying levels of care based on their regular assessments, but have access to a variety of services ,including assistance with the activities of daily living, housekeeping, medication management and health care coordination.
651 Polo Road
Columbia, SC 29223
Mill Creek Manor offers a scenic living experience due to its location between Boyds Pond One and the Sesquicentennial State Park. While the luxury facility is fully landscaped and offers beautiful courtyards, seniors always have the option of exploring the grand state park, which they can see from the windows of their modern apartments. The facility provides assisted living, independent living and memory care options and offers residents access to an on-site salon. Assisted living residents are given a studio apartment and receive assistance with the daily activities as well as scheduled transportation.
4520 Trenholm Road
Columbia, SC 29206
Carolina Gardens at Kathwood is an upscale assisted living community situated within the walkable neighborhood of Forest Acres. Located just a few blocks west of Lake Katherine, residents are offered three meals a day in a restaurant-style dining area and have access to staff 24/7. Discreet help is offered throughout the day and a licensed nurse is always available for consultation. Throughout the day seniors can be found enjoying the large landscaped courtyard, meandering through the neighborhood with their dogs, relaxing in the library or taking advantage of group outings into the community. We placed Carolina Gardens at Kathwood on our list for its easy-going atmosphere and scenic location.
190 McSwain Drive
West Columbia, SC 29169
Situated within a residential neighborhood just a few blocks away from the Lexington Medical Center, Lexington Place is an attractive and relaxed assisted living community that offers residents a landscaped backyard and a full southern-style porch. The cozy facility offers residents access to a licensed nurse 24/7 along with access to caregivers who help with the daily activities of living as needed. Daily activities such as Happy Hour, Coffee Club and bingo help keep residents engaged and scheduled excursions help them stay connected to their local community.
200 Welmore Drive
Lexington, SC 29702
Tucked into a wooded cul-de-sac near the edge of the Golden Hills Country Club, Wellmore of Lexington offers luxury assisted living and memory care to seniors. The campus resembles a resort from its stunning ornate apartment complexes to the carefully manicured landscaping and a long list of extravagant amenities. All assisted living residents receive discreet help with the activities of daily living and are encouraged to take advantage of the award-winning Well-More wellness program. An on-site clubhouse offers residents a casual bistro great for coffee dates, a full-service spa, a fine-dining hall and a bar where residents often meet up for happy hours. We placed Wellmore of Lexington on our list for its excellent care services and the above-mentioned renowned wellness program.
The Genworth 2018 Cost of Care Survey shows that the cost of senior living in Columbia is close to the state median in all categories. Assisted living and nursing home care cost slightly more in Columbia, with both priced at about $300 more each month than South Carolina's average cost. Home care and adult day care costs are below the state median. Home care is $334 less per month, while adult day care is $76 less.
Although the cost of assisted living in Columbia is a bit higher than the South Carolina median, it's not the highest in the state. Assisted living in the Charleston area is $118 higher than in Columbia, and in Myrtle Beach, the average cost is $4,526 per month, $718 more than in Columbia.
There are several cities in South Carolina that are cheaper on average, including Sumter, Spartanburg and Florence, where the average cost is just $2,275 per month, $1,533 less than in Columbia.
Assuming 44 hours of care per week at $25 per hour, Lexington comes in near the higher end of home care costs at an average of $4,004 a month. That's nearly $200 more per month than the state median.
Columbia has the least expensive home health care costs in South Carolina. The monthly cost of $3,289 per month is $143 less than in Spartanburg, which is the next most affordable city. Seniors in the most expensive areas of Charleston and Hilton Head Island pay an average of $4,099 per month, which is $810 more than seniors in Columbia pay.
Most cities in South Carolina have similar adult day care costs. Only $151 separates the lowest and second highest prices in the state. Columbia is close to the middle of this range, with an average price of $1,224 per month. Florence has the most affordable adult day care at $1,162 per month, $62 less than in Columbia, while Charleston and Greenville are at the high end of this range at $1,343 per month, $119 more than in Columbia. The only outlier in South Carolina is Sumter, where seniors pay $1,495 per month for adult day care, $271 more than those in Columbia.
The cost of nursing home care in Columbia is $6,753 a month, making it one of the more expensive cities in the state. Seniors in the Charleston area pay $6,722 monthly, $31 less than those in Columbia. The most affordable nursing home care is found in Florence, where seniors pay $5,749 per month, $1,004 less than seniors in Columbia. Hilton Head Island has the highest nursing home costs at $7,756 per month, which $1,003 more than seniors living in Columbia pay.
Seniors in Columbia can access no-cost health care insurance via Healthy Connections, South Carolina's state Medicaid plan. The state plan covers a variety of health care costs for low-income families and individuals, including senior citizens. The state plan covers the cost of some in-home personal assistance for seniors and disabled persons, as well as the cost of nursing home care and other medical expenses including primary care, ambulatory and inpatient hospital care and prescription medications.
Eligibility requirements for the state plan requires seniors who are applying alone to have a maximum income of $1,041 per month and no more than $7,730 in countable assets. Married seniors who apply together are allowed an income of up to $1,409 per month and up to $11,600 in countable assets. Married applicants with only one spouse applying can transfer up to $66,480 in countable assets to the non-applying spouse to meet the program's requirements.
Although all sources of income are counted when Healthy Connections considers an applicant's eligibility, there are some assets that are exempt. These include the applicant's house, vehicle, life insurance policies that are valued at less than $10,000, household items and personal belongings.
Applicants who don't meet the program's financial requirements should consider speaking to a professional Medicaid planner, as they may be able to help the applicant restructure their finances to allow them to access Medicaid coverage.
The Healthy Connections state plan is an entitlement program, which means that all eligible participants are able to access benefits immediately once they've been approved for coverage.
To apply for Healthy Connections, seniors can complete an application online or call the Healthy Connections Choices Customer Service Center at (877) 552-4642.
Community Choices Waiver
The Community Choices waiver (also known as the Elderly and Disabled waiver) helps seniors who require a nursing level of care to receive personal care and assistance with activities of daily living in their own communities. The waiver was created to help seniors prolong the need for nursing home care. The program covers an array of costs including medical equipment, home modifications, personal assistance and adult day care. Applicants may access services while living in their own home or in an assisted living facility.
This waiver allows some participants to direct their own care, which means they are able to hire, train and supervise their own caregivers. In some cases, participants may be able to hire family members to provide care.
To qualify for the Community Choices waiver on the basis of age, applicants must be at least 65 years old. They also must require a nursing level of care. Financially, applicants must have a monthly income of $2,313 or less and no more than $2,000 in countable assets. Applicants who are married but applying without their spouse may be able to transfer some income to their spouse to meet qualifying terms. This waiver is not an entitlement program. It accepts a limited number of participants at once and often has a waitlist for participation.
To apply for this waiver, seniors in Columbia can contact the Department of Health and Human Services office at (803) 898-2584 or visit in person at 1801 Main St.
More information can be found here.
Community Supports Waiver
The Community Supports waiver is open to South Carolina residents of all ages who are living with an intellectual disability. It exists to allow these individuals to direct their own care while living at home. Under this program, participants are not allowed to hire immediate family members to provide their care. The list of services this waiver covers is similar to that of the Community Choices Waiver; however, this waiver is intended for those with an intermediate care facility level of care as opposed to a nursing level of care. As such, many seniors are a better fit for participation in the Community Choices Waiver.
The financial requirements to qualify for this waiver are the same as for the Community Choices Waiver. Applicants must also undergo an assessment conducted by the South Carolina Department of Disabilities and Special Needs (SCDDSN) to determine their need for care.
To apply, seniors may call the SCDDSN at (800) 289-7012.
More information can be found here.
Central Midlands Area Agency on Aging
The Central Midlands Area Agency on Aging offers a variety of services to seniors in Columbia and throughout Richland County. These services are funded federally under the 1965 Older Americans Act. For those receiving long-term care, the Area Agency on Aging offers respite care to those caring for seniors aged 55 and older with disabilities.
To qualify for respite funding, caregivers may not be receiving respite assistance from any other program. Those caring for a senior with Alzheimer's Disease must provide a written doctor's diagnosis.
To apply for respite care, caregivers can download an application online or contact (803) 376-5390.
The Housing Choice Voucher program helps low-income families and individuals in Columbia to access safe housing within the private rental market. It allows residents to pay 30% of their gross income towards rent and utilities while subsidizing the remainder.
This program helps vulnerable families become self-sufficient by providing emergency financial assistance to help pay for rent, utilities, medical expenses and food.
The Salvation Army provides rent assistance, as well as clothing, furniture and food, in times of crisis. The organization also offers congregate meals to senior citizens once per month along with worship services and fellowship opportunities.
Sharing God's Love helps low-income households in Columbia to access food and clothing in times of need and helps to provide financial assistance for those who urgently need to pay for utility bills and prescription medications.
For additional information and planning, please read our comprehensive guide to paying for senior care in South Carolina.