Page Reviewed / Updated - February 10, 2021
Understanding the costs associated with elderly care can be complicated. To assist one in understanding these costs, this webpage covers the costs associated with various modes of senior care (assisted living, in-home care, and adult day care). In addition, several state programs, both Medicaid and non-Medicaid, will be explored. These programs cover, or assist in covering, the cost of senior care, whether that is in one’s home or community.
While the programs listed on this page are inclusive as to what Washington State has to offer, there are other options, such as non-profit and national programs, that are also available. To assist one in finding affordable senior care and exploring all of their options, please don’t hesitate to use our free Resource Locator Tool.
Cost of Care Calculator
In Washington, as of 2021, per Genworth’s 2020 Cost of Care Survey, the average monthly cost of assisted living is $5,750 statewide. However, the average monthly cost ranges from $3,800 on the low end to $6,750 on the high end, based on one’s geographic location. The most expensive assisted living found in Washington is in the areas of Mount Vernon and Seattle, with the average monthly cost between $5,850 and $6,750. In contrast, the area with the least expensive assisted living is Walla Walla, with an average cost of $3,800 / month. The areas of Bellingham, Spokane, Yakima, Longview, Kennewick, Olympia, and Bremerton also offer very affordable assisted living at an average cost of $4,738 / month - $5,138 / month.
Elderly individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia who require a higher level of care and security are able to do so via Memory Care units. These units, sometimes referred to as Alzheimer’s care, are frequently located in assisted living facilities. On average, these types of units cost approximately $950 / month to $1,687 / month more than does traditional assisted living.
As with assisted living in Washington, the cost of in-home, non-medical care ranges, although not as widely. According to the 2020 Genworth Cost of Care Survey, as of 2021, the hourly cost ranges from $28.95 on the low end to $34.98 on the high end. That said, the average statewide hourly cost is $31.16. The costliest in-home care is found in the areas of Seattle, Mount Vernon, Bellingham, and Bremerton, with the average hourly cost between $32.50 and $34.98. In contrast, the most affordable in-home care is found in Wenatchee, Walla Walla, Longview, and Yakima, with the average hourly cost ranging between $28.95 and $30.52.
In-home health care services, which provides limited medical assistance, is also available. This type of care is provided by a health care professional, and on average, costs $.50 more per hour statewide as does in-home, non-medical care.
Like both assisted living and in-home care, the cost of adult day care ranges greatly across the state. As of 2021, Genworth’s Cost of Care Survey 2020 indicates that the statewide average cost for adult day care is $100 / day, with the average on the low end at $62 / day and the average on the high end at $168 / day. The areas with the most expensive average cost of adult day care ($128 - $168 / day) are Longview, Mount Vernon, and Olympia. The areas with the most affordable adult day care ($62 - $78 /day) are Kennewick and Yakima.
Medicaid Programs & Waivers
Medicaid, which is jointly administered by the federal government and each of the states, is a health insurance program for low-income individuals in the United States. The federal government sets basic parameters for the program, and each state is able to set its own rules within the given parameter. In Washington, the state Medicaid program is referred to as Washington Apple Health, or Apple Health, for short. In Washington, as with all the other states, the Medicaid program will cover the cost of nursing home care for seniors and disabled persons who require this type of care and meet eligibility requirements.
1. In Washington, the Medicaid Personal Care (MPC) Program is part of the state Medicaid plan. This program offers elderly and disabled individuals assistance with activities of daily living, such as bathing, mobility, and toileting. Assistance can be provided in one’s personal home, a residential community, an adult family home, or in an assisted living facility. This program allows for consumer-direction, meaning an individual can choose their own caregiver, including family members. Make note, as of the summer of 2015, this state Medicaid program has been mostly replaced by the Community First Choice Option. However, one major difference between the two programs is that MPC does not require an institutional level of care need. Click here for more information about the MPC Program.
2. The Community First Choice Option (CFCO) is also a state Medicaid program and provides personal care assistance, respite care, medication assistance, assistive technology, and more, for those who require an institutional level of care. This program is considered a nursing diversion program, delaying or preventing nursing home placement. Program participants may live at home, an adult family home, an adult residential care facility, or an assisted living facility. This option also allows for self-direction, including the hiring of a family member to provide care assistance. For eligibility requirements, click here.
3. Another Medicaid program offered by Washington’s state Medicaid plan is the Washington State’s Nurse Delegation Program. This program provides assistance for individuals who require medical care, such as tube feedings or daily injections. Via this program, a registered nurse teaches a caregiver, which may include a family member, to provide the necessary care to prevent nursing home placement. Learn more here.
4. Medicaid also offers a program called Medicaid Alternative Care (MAC), which provides a variety of supports for unpaid caregivers of seniors. Program benefits include adult day care, respite care, caregiver training, durable medical equipment, and more. These supports are meant to help prevent caregiver burnout, as well as delay / prevent nursing home placements. To see additional benefits and eligibility criteria, click here.
Washington also offers Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) Medicaid Waivers that also provide senior care assistance. These programs, unlike the state Medicaid programs via Apple Health, are not entitlement programs. This means that just because one is eligible to receive services, one does not automatically receive them. Waiver programs have caps, which means the number of individuals who are able to receive services are limited. Currently, Washington has two state Medicaid Wavier programs relevant to seniors.
1. The Washington Medicaid COPES (Community Options Program Entry System) Waiver provides supportive services to allow eligible applicants to continue to live at home or in an assisted living facility. These services might include adult day care, home and / or vehicle modifications, meal delivery, and home health care. For more information regarding eligibility and benefits, click here.
2. The New Freedom Medicaid Waiver serves senior residents of Pierce and King Counties who require a nursing home level of care, but prefer to live at home. Via this program, eligible applicants are given a “care budget,” and are able to choose services and goods that enable them to remain living at home. Benefits might include personal assistance services, assistive technology, personal emergency response systems, and medical / alternative care. To learn more, click here.
In order for senior residents of Washington to qualify for Apple Health (Washington’s state Medicaid plan), one must be a minimum of 65 years old. As of 2021, for a single individual, the monthly income limit is set at $794, or said another way, $9,528 / year. (The income limit for some Medicaid programs and waivers is set higher at $2,382 / month). There is also an asset limit, which is $2,000 for a single individual. However, some items are exempt from this limit, such as the home in which one lives (up to an equity value interest of $603,000), household items, personal effects, and a single vehicle.
It’s important to note, eligibility requirements for married couples with just one spouse applying for long-term care Medicaid has different eligibility requirements. For example, there is a monthly maintenance needs allowance for non-applicant spouses. This allows applicant spouses to transfer up to $3,260 / month in income to their non-applicant spouses. There is also a community spouse resource allowance that allows non-applicant spouses to keep up to $130,380 of the couples’ assets.
Applying for Medicaid can be a confusing and complicated process, particularly if assets and / or income is over the eligibility limit(s). Professional Medicaid planners can assist in helping individuals and families qualify for services. Learn more here.
In addition to the Medicaid program options for senior care listed above, the state of Washington also offers two non-Medicaid programs.
1) The Washington State’s Volunteer Services (VS), also called the Volunteer Chore Services (VCS) Program, provides seniors with free services, such as companionship, housecleaning, meal preparation, personal care assistance, and transportation. This program is intended to assist seniors in continuing to live at home rather than requiring more costly nursing home placement. For eligibility requirements, click here.
2. The Washington Tailored Support for Older Adults (TSOA) is for seniors who are “at risk” of requiring Medicaid services for long-term care. Intended to support these individuals in living independently, and to support their unpaid caregivers, adult day care, meal delivery, respite care, home modifications, and caregiver training is available. To learn more, click here.
Aside from state specific options for senior care assistance in Washington, there are also non-profit and federal programs available. To assist one in locating other options that aid in paying for elderly care, don’t hesitate to use our free Resource Locator Tool. Utilizing this tool, it is easy to find other options that are available and to choose the one that is best for one’s needs and situation. Other opportunities include programs that help out veterans with assisted living or utilizing eldercare loans.
When searching for senior care assistance, it is beneficial to check with multiple providers to find high quality care at an affordable rate within one’s geographic area. To aid in one’s search, our company has partnered with a number of organizations that have large databases of care providers. There is not charge to use this service. Click here for assistance finding affordable care.
For more information about the costs and resources available in Washington cities, click on the links below.