Page Reviewed / Updated - Jan. 2019This guide is intended to help seniors and their loved ones understand the cost of senior care and discover some of the financial resources available to help them in Oklahoma. It is also meant to help seniors and their families understand some of the available options for low-income housing and other senior living solutions. For more information, visit our comprehensive guide to paying for senior care in Oklahoma.
Tulsa is close to the high end of Oklahoma's assisted living cost, averaging $3,488 a month. Other communities in the state range from roughly $100 to $600 less per month than Tulsa. Oklahoma City is the closest area in price, at $3,339. Lawton is a close third in the state, at $3,238 a month for assisted living. Enid is the most affordable city surveyed, with assisted living costs of $2,860 a month.
Home care is a popular option for Tulsa seniors who need help with normal activities of daily living (ADLs), but who wish to remain in the familiar comfort of their own homes. Caregiver services in Tulsa can be relatively expensive, compared to other cities in Oklahoma. Home healthcare in Tulsa costs an average of $4,242 a month, which is $143 a month more than Enid, the second-most expensive city surveyed, where the average cost is $4,099.
Lawton and Oklahoma City are intermediate in price between Tulsa and Enid. They are also fairly near each other in price. Home care services in Oklahoma City averages $3,432 a month, while in Lawton the average cost is $3,623.
Adult day care can be a great help for the loved ones of seniors who need supervision at all times. This service can be significantly more expensive in Tulsa than it is in the rest of the state. The average monthly cost for adult day care in Tulsa is $1,560, which puts it at the top of Oklahoma's communities for cost. Oklahoma City is next in price, at $1,300 a month for adult day care, on average. Lawton is the least expensive city surveyed, with an average monthly cost of just $975.
The fourth city to be surveyed in Oklahoma, Enid, does not have available price averages for adult day care. In other categories of senior living, however, the city tends to be roughly at or slightly above the state average, though still generally less expensive than Tulsa.
In the Sooner State, the Medicaid system is known as SoonerCare. This program is classed as an entitlement, meaning that all Oklahoma residents who meet the income and asset limits, as well as the residency requirements, may enroll in the program without admission caps or waiting lists. SoonerCare covers nursing home care for its recipients, as well as some of the costs of personal care.
Eligibility for SoonerCare depends on the applicant's physical condition, monthly income and total assets. As of 2018, unmarried residents of Oklahoma may qualify for Medicaid if they earn up to 300 percent of the Federal Benefit Rate, or $2,250 a month. Married couples may apply together. Their income cap is double the single rate, or $4,500 a month before taxes. Single applicants are allowed to have up to $2,000 in what are called countable assets, which means cash on hand or assets of cash value, such as investments. Married couples are allowed to apply with up to $4,000 in countable assets.
Not all property counts as an asset for Medicaid accounting purposes in Oklahoma. Tulsa seniors are allowed to own a primary residence worth up to $572,000 in uncountable value. Clothing, home furnishings and a single personal car are also treated as uncountable for the purpose of establishing eligibility for Medicaid in Oklahoma. Jewelery may count as an asset, but wedding rings are exempt, as are many other personal items. Speaking with a Medicaid planner before applying may help ensure eligibility and improve the chances of being approved with a low co-pay.
Oklahoma's Medicaid system evaluates applicants' assets and income, and a worker may verify the details as part of the process. The program has a five-year look-back window, which includes financial details going back over the last five years. This means that recent asset transfers and gifts, as well as divestments and losses, may be counted as current assets for the application, even if the items are no longer owned. Specific transactions, such as transferring a house, can sometimes be evaluated on a case-by-case basis by an intake worker. Tulsa seniors can apply for SoonerCare online.
ADVantage Waiver Program
Unlike SoonerCare, Oklahoma's ADvantage Waiver Program is not an entitlement. This means that only a certain number of slots open up in the program each year, and that seniors who apply after the cutoff typically have to go on a waiting list. ADvantage covers many services for adults who need assistance, but who do not have psychological or cognitive impairments. Among the services offered are:
Not every senior in Tulsa qualifies for an ADvantage waiver. To meet the program's requirements, applicants must meet the admission standards for SoonerCare. Applicants must also be seniors age 65 and over or be classified as a disabled adult by the Social Security Administration. Seniors in Tulsa who wish to sign up for the waiver must also meet the standards for admission to a skilled nursing facility, but currently live at home or with a family member. Seniors with signs of an intellectual disability or cognitive impairment are not eligible for a waiver.
ADvantage applications may be submitted online to the Oklahoma Department of Human Services. Alternatively, seniors in Tulsa can reach the department by phone at either (918) 933-4900 or (800) 435-4711.
In-Home Supports for Adults Waiver
In-Home Supports for Adults waivers serve the needs of adults 18 years of age and older who have intellectual disabilities that would otherwise require placement in a residential care facility. Seniors in Tulsa who may be eligible for this waiver can get in-home help that includes:
The Oklahoma Department of Human Services’ Aging Services Division (ASD) operates a network of senior services aimed at making it easier for Tulsa's seniors to live independently. In-Home Assistance is a state program to help seniors and disabled adults with low income cover some or all of the cost of personal care, house and yard work and some necessary home repairs. Income and asset eligibility guidelines apply. Seniors in Tulsa can sign up for In Home Assistance through the Tulsa Area Agency on Aging.
Adult Day Health Services
Adult Day Health Services is a project of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (OKDHS). This state program pays for respite and per diem healthcare for Tulsa seniors who wish to remain at home or with loved ones in the community, rather than to opt for long-term residential care. In addition to covering the costs of day health services like health, recreation and personal care issues, the program conducts an assessment of every senior enrolled to develop a personalized Care Delivery Plan, which helps streamline the delivery of other services.
To qualify for Adult Day Health Services, Tulsa seniors must either be age 60 or above, or receive an exemption for early-onset Alzheimer's disease or another form of dementia. Those recovering from stroke may also qualify for a relaxed age requirement.
Senior applicants' income is assessed as part of the admission process, with a 2018 cap set at $868 a month for eligibility. Seniors who earn more than the cap may still qualify for reduced-cost services. The program does not consider assets, which are not counted against the applicant.
Application is through the Oklahoma Department of Human Services’ Aging Services Division, which can be reached at 405-521-2281.
The Housing Choice Voucher Program gives low-income individuals, including seniors, the option of choosing where they want to live as long as their landlord accepts the voucher to subsidize the cost of rent. There are income qualifications: an individual cannot earn more than $23,500 per year.
The Tulsa branch of the Salvation Army offers emergency financial assistance to Tulsa county residents in meeting some of their basic financial needs. The charity provides some funding for utility bills and limited grants to help pay rent when the recipient is facing eviction.
Catholic Charity of Eastern Oklahoma helps seniors and low-income residents of Tulsa with grants of cash aid for rent and utility bills, clothing or free food, and free medical and dental care as needed and available. This nonprofit program has some income eligibility requirements that applicants must meet before receiving aid.
The Tulsa Department of Human Services (DHS) administers the Oklahoma Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) for Tulsa seniors. The program helps with grants for heating and cooling bills and weatherization services or other energy-related home repair assistance to qualified low to medium-income households. Apply at the Human Services Center in Tulsa.