Page Reviewed / Updated - May 2019
This webpage will help Georgia state residents understand local assisted living, home care, and adult day care costs. It also explores various payment options and financial assistance programs available to assist in caring for the elderly in Georgia, be that in residential care or for aging in place at home.
The programs outlined here are comprehensive of what is available from the state of Georgia, but is not comprehensive of what is available at a national level. It is important to research all of the options available to you in order to find the best program for your needs and circumstances. In order to search for assistance nationwide, please use our complimentary Resource Locator Tool.
Cost of Care Calculator
In Georgia, the average cost of assisted living on a monthly basis in 2019 is approximately $3,100. This is approximately 22% lower than the national average of $4,000 per month. Even still, cost saving can be achieved by identifying areas within the state where the cost of assisted living is less expensive. These areas include Albany, Columbus, Savannah, Augusta, and Warner Robins, where the monthly cost ranges from $2,300 - $2,950. In contrast, the highest monthly cost for assisted living is found in Macon, Brunswick, Gainesville, and Dalton, where prices are between $3,484 and $4,145 / month.
Unfortunately, Alzheimer's care, or sometimes called memory care, in an assisted living community is more costly. This is likely due to the higher level of supervision and security 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 approximately $620 - $930.
The average hourly rate in 2019 for home care in Georgia is $19.00, which is $2.00 below the national average and nowhere near the dramatic difference found for assisted living. Atlanta, Savannah, Gainesville, and the Brunswick area have the highest hourly rates, at approximately $20.00 - $21.00 / hour, though less expensive providers can still be found in those regions. Athens, Augusta, and Rome all have an average hourly cost consistent with the statewide hourly average of $19.00. Columbus, Valdosta, Dalton, Macon, and Warner Robins all have average hourly costs between $1.00 and $2.25 / hour below the state average. Home health care is another great option for seniors who need minimal medical assistance and costs approximately $1.00 / hour more than home care.
The average daily cost of adult day care in Georgia is approximately $12 below the national average. In 2019, the daily rate statewide is $60. There are even lower rates available locally in the regions of Brunswick, Hinesville, Savannah, and Valdosta. In the first two regions, care can be found for as low as $25 - $40 / day. The most expensive care can be found in Albany and Atlanta, where daily rates are between $77 and $79. Unfortunately, in many of the rural areas of the state, there is no adult day care available.
Medicaid is a federal and state program designed to assist low-income individuals and families in affording the cost of medical care. Long-term care is available through Medicaid and is intended to help the elderly and disabled with permanent, chronic, or progressive conditions. As with other states, Medicaid in Georgia will cover the costs associated with living in a nursing facility, as well as limited personal care assistance.
In addition to the state Medicaid plan, Georgia also offers Medicaid waivers that provide elderly care assistance. However, unlike the state Medicaid plan, waivers have limited enrollment. This means if one is eligible for services, he or she may not be able to immediately receive them if the enrollment cap has been reached. In cases like this, there are waiting lists.
There are currently two Medicaid waivers in Georgia, both of which operate under the Elderly and Disabled Waiver. These programs 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 medical and non-medical supports that help them remain independent. Services might include adult day health care, meal delivery, and personal emergency response systems, to name a few. This program allows for self-direction of personal care services, meaning individuals can choose their care provider. Learn more here.
SOURCE is an acronym for Service Options Using Resources in a Community Environment. The SOURCE waiver provides a higher level of medical attention, but less services in support of independent living. Via this wavier, benefits include skilled nursing services and 24-hour medical access. Note that SOURCE is now available statewide. Details available here.
In Georgia in 2019, 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 $2,313. The value of their financial assets, excluding their vehicle, their home (given the applicant or their spouse lives in it and the equity value of the home is not greater than $585,000), household furnishings, and personal belongings 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 (MMMNA) and the Community Spouse Resource Allowance (CSRA).
The MMMNA is the minimum amount of income a non-applicant spouse is allowed to have each month. If the non-applicant’s income falls under this amount, the applicant spouse is able to supplement the non-applicant’s income with his or her own. In 2019, the applicant spouse can transfer up to $3,160.50 / month to their non-applicant spouse. The CSRA is a certain amount of assets that a non-applicant spouse, also referred to as a community spouse, is able to retain rather than be required to “spend down” for the applicant spouse to qualify for Medicaid. As of 2019, this figure can be as much as $126,420.
Individuals whose income and resources are over Medicaid's published limit(s), as well as married couples, should consult with a professional Medicaid planner prior to application. This ensures the best possibility of acceptance in the program and ensures the healthy, or non-applicant spouse, has adequate income and resources to afford their cost of living.It’s important to note that eligibility requirements for regular state Medicaid and Medicaid waivers differ.
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 and are administered through local Area Agencies on Aging (AAA). 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 that 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 services (PERS). Learn more.
Statewide, two programs exist 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, also called the Low Income Home Energy Assistance program, helps low-income residents, especially the aged, with their energy costs for heating and cooling their homes. Regular and emergency benefits are available via this program.
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.
For more information about the costs and resources available in Georgia cities, click on the links below.