Page Reviewed / Updated - May 2019
This webpage will help the residents of the District of Columbia and the surrounding suburbs to better comprehend elder care costs in their area. This includes pricing options and various financial aids for assisted living, adult day care, as well as home care services, both in the home and in residential facilities.
While this page provides a comprehensive view of what is available from the District of Columbia, it does not include programs that are available at a national level. In order to search for nationwide assistance, and the best program to meet your needs and situation, make sure to use our free Resource Locator Tool.
Cost of Care Calculator
In 2019, the average cost of assisted living in the District of Columbia is $9,266 / month. This is one of the highest rates in the nation and is well above the national average rate of $4,000 / month. However, in the surrounding area of Washington, the average cost is considerably lower at $5,000 / month. Memory care, also called Alzheimer’s care, regardless of location, costs approximately $1,500 more each month. This figure is above and beyond the cost of traditional assisted living.
At the time of this writing, the average rate for home care across the District of Columbia in 2019 is not available. That said, the year prior, the average rate was $16.75 / hr. Therefore, it is likely safe to assume the hourly cost continues to be close to this figure. However, the hourly cost of home care in the Washington area is available and is more expensive at approximately $22.50 / hour.
Home health care, which provides minimal medical care, is also available. This type of care is provided by medical professionals. As with regular home care, the average hourly rate for home health care is not available throughout the District of Columbia. However, home health care in the Washington area is available and is quite affordable, costing an approximate $.88 / hour more than home care.
In 2019, the average cost of adult day care is $91 / day throughout the District and its surrounding suburbs. Somewhat confusingly, despite being quoted a daily rate, adult day care usually works on a half-day fee structure.
Medicaid is a federal and state funded health insurance plan for low-income individuals. While the general parameters of the program are federally set, the District of Columbia can work within these parameters and administer the program as it sees fit for their residents. Like the rest of the United States, the District of Columbia State Medicaid program covers the cost of nursing home care in addition to limited personal care.
The Personal Care & Adult Day Health Care services provided under the District of Columbia’s state Medicaid plan are intended to prevent the premature placement of seniors in nursing homes. In-home assistance with daily living activities, such as bathing, grooming, mobility, and eating are provided via the Personal Care benefit. Personal care assistance is also provided in Adult Day Health Care, as are snacks and meals, supervision, and therapeutic activities. For eligibility requirements, click here.
The District of Columbia also offers one Medicaid-based assistance waiver program, which provides home and community based services outside of nursing homes. Unlike the state Medicaid program, this waiver is not an entitlement program. This means that there are a limited number of participant slots for waiver services. Once the slots have been filled, there will be a waitlist to be enrolled in the waiver.
The Elderly and Persons with Disabilities (EPD) Medicaid Waiver program is designed to help eligible applicants to continue living at home or in an assisted living facility, as opposed to requiring nursing home care. Services via this waiver include housekeeping, home modifications, meal preparation, personal emergency response systems, and personal care services. An added benefit is that personal care may be self-directed and family members may be hired as caregivers. More details can be found here.
The District of Columbia requires that in order to qualify for Medicaid as a disabled or elderly person, one must be a resident and is at least 65 years of age or disabled. There is also an income and asset limit, which varies based on if one is applying for the state plan or the waiver. As of 2019, the monthly income cap for long-term care via the Medicaid waiver is set at $2,313 for single applicants. For the state plan, a single senior cannot have income over $1,040.83 / month. For both the waiver program and the state plan, candidates cannot have countable resources (which exclude the value of one's home, up to an equity value of $878,000, and a single vehicle) in excess of $4,000. Other exempt assets include household furnishings, personal items, and burial plots.
Married applicants are subject to a different set of rules, which are dependent on whether both spouses are seeking Medicaid assistance. If one is over the income and / or asset limit(s) or is married, it is highly advisable that one seeks the assistance of a professional Medicaid planner. Learn more here.
In the District of Columbia, there is a non-Medicaid program that provides financial aid (grants and loans) to elderly and disabled individuals in order to make home modifications and repairs. This is intended to enable disabled and elderly residents of D.C. to continue to live independently in their homes in a safe environment, and to avoid having to move to more expensive nursing homes. Via this program, there is an additional benefit for seniors where $10,000 of a loan does not need to be repaid. To learn more details about this program and the eligibility requirements, click on the program name below.
The DC Safe at Home Program is intended to prevent the premature institutionalization of seniors by providing adaptive technology (shower seats and furniture risers) and minor home modifications (installation of wheelchair ramps and chair lifts). Doing so creates a safer and more accessible environment for the elderly to prevent the risk of falls and injuries. Click on the program name below for additional benefits and eligibility requirements.
Additionally, in the District there is a unique program that provides support for unpaid caregivers. Benefits include caregiver flex accounts, educational programs, telephone support, counseling, and in-home assessments. Click below on the program name to learn more.
Please note, the District of Columbia’s Universal Paid Leave Act is set to be in effect in July of 2020. This program will provide up to six weeks paid time off from employment to care for a seriously ill family member, such as an aging parent. For more details about the Universal Paid Leave Act, click the program name below.
Complementing these ‘state-specific’ options are also many federal and local programs. The Resource Locator Tool will help you to find these other programs and choose the most suitable one for your needs and circumstances. Make sure to take advantage of this tool to find programs in and out of the District of Columbia that may be used to maximize financial assistance for senior care costs.
Granted the unique status of the District of Columbia and its surrounding areas, it is almost as if the varying range of costs for different services is within one city, rather than a state. Either way, it would behoove individuals and families to contact as many service providers as possible in order to find the most affordable care. To assist families with this task, our organization has a service, free of charge, which serves as a matchmaker. Basically, special care needs and providers in one’s area who matches one’s needs by price range are located. Click here for assistance in finding the best, most affordable care possible.