Page Reviewed / Updated - August 2019
This article is meant to act as a guide for seniors, caregivers and other loved ones in the Redwood City area who are looking into their options for safe and comfortable local senior living arrangements. Seniors can use this guide to better understand the various levels of senior care available in Redwood City, as well as to develop a realistic idea of the prices local facilities charge at each level. Finally, this guide identifies several local resources seniors can use to cover many of the costs of remaining in their own homes in or near Redwood City.
For more information about senior living options in the area, please see our comprehensive guide to paying for senior care in California.
Senior care in Redwood City is generally more expensive than the average cost of care elsewhere in California, according to the 2018 Genworth Cost of Care Survey. Assisted living in Redwood City, for example, costs seniors an average of $5,500 a month, which is significantly more than the $4,500 a month California seniors pay across the state. Home care, adult day care and nursing home care are similarly expensive, relative to the state averages for similar levels of care.
Note: Senior care cost data wasn’t available for Redwood City, so the data for the closest city, San Jose, was used.
Assisted living in Redwood City costs an average of $5,500 a month. This is $1,000 a month above the average seniors pay in the rest of California and $2,000 a month higher than the average cost of assisted living in Stockton.
Seniors in Bakersfield, the least expensive city surveyed for assisted living, reports an average monthly cost of $3,150. Among surveyed California cities, only San Francisco is in the price range of Redwood City. Seniors in San Francisco also pay $5,500 a month for assisted living.
Home care in Redwood City costs seniors an average of $5,720 a month. This is significantly more than the California state average of $4,957 for the same or similar care. Stockton matches the state average, at $4,957 a month, while Sacramento, Los Angeles and San Diego all report costs that are lower still, at $4,767 a month.
Bakersfield has some of the lowest monthly rates in California, at $4,385 a month for home care, while only San Francisco gets close to the cost of care in Redwood City, at $5,625 a month.
Adult day care in Redwood City costs an average of $1,993 a month. This is the second-highest cost in the surveyed sample, behind only Chico, where seniors pay an average of $2,134. Average costs in the rest of California run to $1,679, or more than $300 a month less than the cost of adult day care in Redwood City.
Sacramento, San Francisco and San Diego all report an average cost that's near the middle range of cities in California, $1,733, while seniors in Los Angeles pay some of the lowest monthly rates at $1,565 a month. This is more than $400 a month less than the average seniors pay in Redwood City.
Nursing home care in Redwood City costs local seniors an average of $9,125 a month. This is several hundred dollars a month more than the average cost of a semi-private room in the rest of California, which is $8,365. Redwood City is an outlier among California cities.
Sacramento and San Diego, for instance, both report average monthly costs of $8,517 for nursing home care. Bakersfield has one of the lowest monthly rates in the state, at $7,513 a month, which is nearly $1,600 a month less than Redwood City's average. Only seniors in San Francisco pay more than the average in Redwood City. Monthly prices in San Francisco average $9,148, or just $23 a month more than Redwood City.
Seniors in Redwood City may be able to get the help they need paying for assisted living through the federal Medicaid program, which in California is called Medi-Cal. Seniors can sign up for Medi-Cal at a county Human Services office, or online at the Covered California website. There, seniors from Redwood City can browse Medi-Cal plans that are administered as HMO or PPO options through in-state providers such as Blue Cross/Blue Shield and Kaiser Permanente. Because Medi-Cal is structured as an entitlement program, Redwood City seniors who qualify for the program can join and begin receiving benefits immediately, with no waiting periods or enrollment caps.
To qualify for a Medi-Cal plan, seniors in Redwood City must be citizens or legal residents of the United States and residents of the state of California. Intake workers may need to see proof of citizenship and residency prior to approving benefits, though Medi-Cal often pays medical bills retroactively for approved recipients.
In addition to residency restrictions, seniors in Redwood City must also meet income guidelines to qualify for the program. Medi-Cal offers no-cost coverage to seniors who earn less than 138% of the federal poverty line. This means that, as of 2019, seniors in California may earn up to $16,395 a year from all income sources combined. Married couples are allowed up to $22,108 a year. For each additional adult living in the household, seniors are able to claim an additional $5,741 a year in income, regardless of whether the other adults also apply for benefits.
Income and asset standards for participating in Medi-Cal can be complex, which is why seniors may wish to consult with a certified senior financial adviser prior to applying for the program. Seniors who earn more than 138% of the federal guideline, but who still earn less than 300%, can still participate in Medi-Cal, though they may be asked to pay an annual share of cost before benefits become available to them.
Some Redwood City seniors can fast-track their Medi-Cal applications by showing prior acceptance into another low-income program in California. Many of these programs use the same or similar financial criteria for eligibility, and so an acceptance letter from any of them often serves as preliminary evidence of eligibility for Medi-Cal, which can speed up the provisional approval of an application. Several of these programs can be applied for using the same form as the Medi-Cal application, and approvals often follow the same process. Compatible programs in the state of California include:
Assisted Living Waiver Program (ALWP)
Redwood City seniors can cover much of the cost of assisted living by applying for the state Assisted Living Waiver Program (ALWP). This waiver program pays the monthly cost of assisted living for seniors who meet Medi-Cal income guidelines and have a medical clearance to stay in a nursing home. To obtain the waiver, seniors must forgo placement in a nursing care facility and opt instead for the less expensive option of assisted living at an enrolled community.
To get an ALWP voucher, seniors can apply directly through their Medi-Cal case worker, or they can ask for assistance from the benefits specialist at a participating assisted living facility.
Multipurpose Senior Services Waiver
Seniors in Redwood City who opt out of assisted living may get financial help living at home through the Multipurpose Senior Services Program (MSSP) waiver. MSSP benefits are directed toward creating a safe and comfortable home environment for seniors who prefer to remain in their own communities, rather than move into a regulated facility. Benefits are open to seniors who meet Medi-Cal participation guidelines and who qualify for residential care.
Qualifying seniors may live in their own homes, or they can move into the private home of a friend or family member. Applications may be submitted through a Medi-Cal case worker or upon discharge from a residential care facility.
Covered MSSP benefits include:
Home and Community-Based Alternatives (HCBA) Waiver
The Home and Community-Based Alternatives (HCBA) waiver helps cover many of the miscellaneous costs seniors face when discharging from a residential care facility and returning home. Seniors can apply for an HCBA waiver through their assigned Medi-Cal case worker or through the discharge planner at the facility they are leaving.
Community-Based Adult Services (CBAS)
Redwood City seniors who remain in their own communities and homes can get help plugging some of the gaps in their needs with a Community Based Adult Services (CBAS) waiver. To participate in the program, seniors must meet Medi-Cal intake requirements and choose to remain in their homes. Applications can go through a Medi-Cal case worker. Benefits covered by the CBAS waiver include:
Paid Family Leave (PFLA)
Seniors in Redwood City may be able to get in-home caregiver assistance from a close relative under California's Paid Family Leave Act (PFLA) program. PFLA allows employed Californians to take up to six weeks off from work with pay to care for a medically needy relative. This can help seniors in Redwood City who have recently come home from the hospital or residential care, as well as seniors who are passing through a bout of illness. Benefits are paid via a withholding deduction from workers' paychecks, and funds must be available before a claim can be approved. Benefit amounts vary according to a formula applied to workers' earnings over a three-year look-back period, and payment is issued every two weeks.
California workers who wish to take paid leave to care for a senior relative can apply for benefits through the state's Employment Development Department (EDD), the same agency that approves unemployment claims. Employees can apply in advance of their need for leave, though approval may require a telephone interview and proof of both medical need and family relationship with the senior.
In-Home Support Services (IHSS)
Seniors who need continuing caregiver support can get help hiring an in-home caregiver through the In-Home Support Services (IHSS) program. IHSS pays qualified caregivers to assist seniors with household activities and reasonable errands outside of the home. Once approved for the program, seniors receive a home visit from a case worker, who usually assigns a set number of caregiver hours the program can pay for. Seniors can then sign off on hours worked by their caregiver, who then submits the time sheet for payment by mail.
Seniors can designate anyone close to them as a caregiver. Spouses, family members and friends can all sign up as caregivers, provided they pass a background check and attend a training session at an IHSS office. Both seniors and their prospective caregivers may apply for IHSS through a program office in person or by mail, and applications are also available at county Human Services offices.
The Housing Authority of the County of San Mateo (HACSM) operates multiple programs to help low-income seniors find and obtain affordable housing.
HACSM administers the local Section 8 Housing Choice voucher program, operates public housing, funds private multi-unit developments and maintains an active list of affordable senior housing in and around Redwood City.
Seniors can apply for all programs and waiting lists online through the authority's website.
The Fair Oaks Community Center on Middlefield Rd. offers seniors with insecure housing rent and deposit assistance, help paying overdue utility bills, food assistance and other emergency services. Seniors can call for information or visit in person without an appointment.
The Salvation Army Redwood City Corps helps local seniors meet requirements for housing deposits and emergency rental assistance.
It is also able to help seniors apply for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which can cut the cost of home energy bills by up to 30%. Applications for aid can be made on a walk-in basis as the need arises.