Assisted Living & Senior Living in U.S.

Alabama Senior Living

Programs for Seniors Living in Alabama

Alabama Senior Living

Alabama is a state that provides the minimum care needed for its elderly citizens and may be best suited for retirees with a decent amount of retirement money. It is estimated that in 2020 it would cost Alabama Medicaid over $1 billion dollars a year just for bed space in nursing homes.

There is a program called State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) which helps Alabama seniors get:

  • Answers to queries in regard to Medicaid, Medicare, Medicare Advantage, Medigap, Long-term care insurance options, and other health insurance programs for Alabama seniors;
  • Informational resources that are created to help Alabama seniors with Medicare with certain things such as home health benefits, Medicare claims and appeals;
  • Assistance with understanding of the Medicare program and other health insurance benefits;
  • Referral services for other agencies or programs, when necessary; and
  • Health insurance related group presentations conducted by SHIP counselors.

There are also Energy Assistance Programs in Alabama to help Alabama seniors with the cost of heating and cooling. These programs include:

  • The Alabama Weatherization Assistance Program tries to reduce energy costs for low-income seniors and families by improving the energy efficiency of their homes. This program is an income-based program where the applicant’s income must not exceed 200% of the federally established poverty level. While it is available to everyone in Alabama with that income level, it is particularly for seniors, those with disabilities, and families with children; and
  • The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is a program that contracts with local nonprofit agencies to help low-income seniors and families living in Alabama meet the costs of home energy, increase their energy self-sufficiency, and reduce their vulnerability resulting from energy needs.

There are over 350 Senior Centers all over Alabama where older people are welcome to go, where programs, as well as meals, are offered on an on-going basis. They have a “Meals on Wheels” program for seniors 60 and over, those married to someone 60 and over, or living with a disabled person who is homebound. There is also the Alabama SenioRx Prescription Assistance program which provides free or low cost drugs to Alabama seniors aged 55 and older, for those with disabilities, and for those who are diagnosed with a chronic medical condition that requires daily medication.

In Alabama, the local Area Agencies on Aging are valuable resources for seniors and their families regardless of living conditions, as they can answer specific questions as well as being the gatekeepers for most of these programs. The Area Agency on Aging (AAA) can be reached at: 1-800-AGE-LINE.

Costs of Assisted Living in Alabama

The cost for an Assisted Living Facility in Alabama averages about $2,900 per month (just under $35,000 per year), although the amount of money for such care increases depending on the services required. This is lower than the national average and lower than most of the neighboring states. However, the costs may increase for residents with Alzheimer's or dementia. Assisted living costs in Alabama are still much lower than the cost of an Alabama nursing home, where semi-private rooms cost $71,175 and a private room is around $75,000 per year.

Assisted Living in Alabama costs more than Adult Day Health Care, which averages around $7,000 per year. Alabama Assisted Living Facilities are more cost-effective than hiring a Home Health Aide which costs, on average $35,000 a year. It is estimated that by the year 2030, Assisted Living in Alabama will cost $52,638 per year – an increase of over $17,000. Some cities in Alabama are more affordable than others when it comes to assisted living. So what are the assisted living costs in Alabama? City by city, from lowest to most expensive, the costs are:

  • Gadsden, AL - $1,975 per month
  • Dothan, AL - $2,000 per month
  • Tuscaloosa, AL - $2,768 per month
  • Decatur, AL - $3,000 per month
  • Montgomery, AL - $3,079 per month
  • Birmingham, AL - $3,081 per month
  • Florence, AL - $3,091 per month
  • Daphne, AL - $3,600 per month
  • Auburn, AL - $3,675 per month
  • Huntsville, AL - $3,850 per month
  • Mobile, AL - $3,895 per month
  • Anniston, AL - $3,930 per month

We can see that there's quite a large difference between the least expensive city, Gadsden and the most expensive one, Anniston - a difference of nearly $2000 per month. For seniors who don't have a large budget for assisted living, Gadsden or Dothan would make an excellent choice. We can also see that Decatur, Montgomery, Birmingham and Florence have nearly identical assisted living costs, with a difference of under $100 per month between all 4.

Who pays for Assisted Living Care in Alabama?

Most Assisted Living care is paid for privately by either the resident or their families. The Alabama Medicaid program offers Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) Waivers to provide help to older people either in their home or in the community to try and prevent or delay nursing home placement. Each program has eligibility requirements, including asset and income qualifications. As of last year, for example, a single elderly applicant must have a monthly income less than $2,199 to meet the eligibility requirements for Medicaid. Additionally, there is also a resource limit of $2,000 (although household goods, personal effects, and some property is exempt.) If you are planning to apply for Medicaid in Alabama, you should contact an Alabama Medicaid planner before you apply.

There are three Medicaid assistance programs offered, including the State Medicaid Plan:

  • Alabama offers the Elderly and Disabled (E & D) Medicaid Waiver to provide services to elderly or disabled individuals who would otherwise require nursing facility care to remain at home or in the community. Additionally, it offers aid to those seniors who currently reside in a nursing home to transition back to living within the community.
  • The State of Alabama Independent Living (SAIL) Medicaid Waiver, which was previously known as the Homebound Waiver, is designed to help disabled people move back to or remain living in their homes or communities rather than a skilled nursing facility.
  • The Personal Choices Program is offered in seven counties of Western Alabama and two counties of Southern Alabama. This is a program that allows seniors and disabled individuals who receive services under the E & D Waiver or the SAIL Waiver the option to manage their care providers and is a self-directed care program.

Pros and Cons of Senior Living in Alabama

Alabama is a diverse state with mountains as well as the coast, so when you are a senior and you are choosing a place to live, you should consider your options. There are many historic places in Alabama, and it is also the site of many Civil War battles and events. The state played a crucial role in the Civil Rights movement with the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the march from Montgomery to Selma, as well as the 16th Street Baptist Church and Kelly Ingram State Park. Some of the most visited attractions in Alabama include: the U.S. Space and Rocket Center; Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail; Birmingham Zoo; USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park, McWane Science Center, Point Mallard Park; Huntsville Botanical Garden; Montgomery Zoo; and the National Voting Rights Museum. Furthermore, there are now cruise lines that leave from the Port of Mobile. You should never find yourself lacking things to do in this state when you are a senior who lives in Alabama.

Here are some things to consider when choosing where to retire in Alabama:

• Beautiful beaches and other outdoor activities – the beaches in Alabama are spectacular and offer oceanfront life at a fraction of the cost that you would find in other states. Alabama is also well known for the “Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail” which is a collection of 11 different championship courses totaling 468 holes;

• Low cost of senior living – Alabama’s overall cost of living is 12% below average and even living on the coast is considerably cheaper for seniors than it would in neighboring Florida;

• Healthcare around your area – Alabama does have some top-notch health care facilities for seniors such as the University of Alabama Hospital in Birmingham and the Southeast Alabama Medical Center in Dothan;

• Low cost of senior health care – we’ve discussed the cost of assisted living facilities in Alabama which is significantly less than other parts of the country;

• Poverty – Alabama has a higher poverty and obesity level than the rest of the United States. The health care is good, if you can afford it and you can access it, unfortunately not all residents are able to do so; and

  • Taxes – Alabama has a higher sales tax at 7.5% than the U.S. average and has a state income tax as well.

The climate of Alabama is classified as humid subtropical – meaning it has hot, humid summers and mild to cool winters, with monthly average temperatures above 64° F. Some seniors living in Alabama may not be comfortable with the humid summers, however others can tolerate the humidity without issues. Temperatures are usually warmer in the Southern part of the state due to its proximity to the Gulf of Mexico, and the northern parts of the Alabama tend to be somewhat cooler.

Alabama summers are hot and humid with temperatures averaging over 90° F, and the state receives an average of 56 inches of rainfall annually on average. Alabama has the most EF5 tornadoes of any state and is also prone to hurricanes and tropical storms.

Winters are generally mild and snow is a rare event in much of the state, although a few times every winter there is a dusting of snow, and occasional heavy snow every few years.

Alabama Demographics

Alabama is the 24thmost populous state in America with a population of over 4.8 million in 2015. Alabama is the 30th largest state in the nation with 1,300 miles of navigable inland waterways. With approximately 25% of the population under 18, 7% under 5, and almost 16% of people living in Alabama being seniors over the age of 65, this state is one that takes cares of its seniors but does not specifically cater to them. This would be a place for older people who are active and healthy during their retirement years.

The largest cities in Alabama are: Birmingham/Hoover; Huntsville, Mobile, Montgomery, and Tuscaloosa. Interestingly, the population seems to be holding relatively steady, if not decreasing, in these major cities. English is the primary language in Alabama followed by Spanish, German, and French (including Patois and Cajun), and Chinese. The Birmingham-Hoover metropolitan area is the largest in the state with almost 1.15 million people, followed by Huntsville (0.5 million), Mobile, (420,000), and Montgomery (375,000).

The racial composition of Alabama in the last census was approximately: 69% White; 26% Black; 4% Hispanic; 1% Asian; and 0.5% American Indian or Alaska Native. It should be noted, however, that Alabama is a state with a large amount of history, particularly African-American history. Alabama is situated in the middle of the “Bible Belt” and is one of the most religious states in the United States, with approximately 58% attending church regularly.

Alabama has a 2, 4, or 5% personal income tax, depending on the amount earned and the filing status, as well as a sales tax of 4%. It is one of seven states that levy a tax on food at the same rate as other goods and one of two states that taxes groceries fully without any relief for low-income seniors and families. Alabama is the only state that levies income tax on a family of four with income as low as $4,600, barely ¼ of the federal poverty line. The median income in Alabama is lower than the national average, at around $44,765; however, the purchasing power is also more. For example, $100 will buy you things that would cost you $113.90 in a low-cost state.

Some places to consider for Alabama senior living:

  • Scottsboro, Alabama – this city is in Jackson County, Alabama and it is the county seat of Jackson County. It is the home to the famous “Unclaimed Baggage Center” as well as the freight depot (which is still standing) from the old Memphis and Charleston Railroad. First Monday is a popular attraction as well as it is a trade day, or a flea market, where people set up stalls and sell good and homemade wares. Also on the town square is Payne’s Soda Shop, which has been in business since 1869;
  • Eufaula, Alabama – situated on the Chattahoochee River, Eufaula has many historic buildings such as the Eufaula First United Methodist Church and the First Baptist Church of Eufaula. The Shorter Mansion was built in 1884 and is recognized by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Finally, the Seth Lore and Irwinton Historic District (2nd largest in Alabama) consists of 667 properties that contribute to the Historic District.
  • Florence, Alabama – a city in as well as the county seat of Lauderdale County, Florence in the state’s northwest corner. There are annual tourism events including the W.C. Handy Music Festival in the summer and the Renaissance Faire in the Fall. It is also the location of the only Frank Lloyd Wright designed home in Alabama;
  • Fort Payne, Alabama – a city in and the county seat of DeKalb County, Alabama. Fort Payne houses the headquarters for the “Little River Canyon National Preserve”, which is a 14,000-acre National Park Service on Lookout Mountain outside the city limits that seniors can enjoy visiting. DeSoto State Park is nearby with amenities and river access areas. Manitou Cave is also nearby. The country music group “Alabama” is based in Fort Payne;
  • Huntsville, Alabama – located primarily in Madison County as one of “America’s Dozen Distinctive Destinations” list. It includes the historic districts of “Twickenham,” “Old Town Historic District,” “Five Points Historic District” and “Lowe Mill Village.” There are museums in Huntsville as well, including: the “US Space & Rocket Center” which is home to the US Space Camp, “Alabama Constitution Village,” “Clay House Museum,” “Early Works Museum,” “Huntsville Museum of Art,” “North Alabama Railroad Museum,” and “The Veterans Memorial Museum.” There are also 57 parks within the city limits of Huntsville;
  • Gulf Shores/Orange Beach, Alabama – located on the Alabama Gulf Coast, there are numerous activities available for seniors and people of all ages. Dolphin cruises, boat rentals, charter fishing trips, the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park, the National Museum of Naval Aviation, golf courses designed by Arnold Palmer, Jerry Pate, and Earl Stone. And don’t forget Alabama’s Coastal Connection Scenic Byway, The Clay Studio at The Coastal Arts Center of Orange Beach, and The Estuarium at The Dauphin Island Sea Lab. There is plenty to do for all seniors in this coastal area;
  • Auburn, Alabama – a college town that is home to Auburn University. It is home to the Julie Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, the Telfair Peet Theatre, the Auburn Community Orchestra, the Auburn Knights Orchestra, and the Sundila Acoustic Concert Series. There are 16 parks in Auburn, including its most famous Chewacia State Park, as well as Kiesel Park, and the Louise Kreher Forest Ecology Preserve;
  • Fairhope, Alabama – a city in Baldwin County, Alabama, along the cliffs and shoreline of Mobile Bay. It is considered an affluent suburb of Mobile, Alabama. The “Weeks Bay Natural Preserve” is located 10 miles away and is known for its oaks, wildlife, and pitcher plants along the elevated walkways through the swamp forest. In the early 1900s, Fairhope was a popular wintering spot for artists and intellectuals such as Sherwood Anderson, Wharton Esherick, Carl Zigrosser, and Upton Sinclair;
  • Greenville, Alabama – in Butler County, Alabama, Greenville is the home of the historic Ritz Theatre and the location of one of the Robert Trent Jones designed golf courses, Cambrian Ridge - perfect for Alabama elderly who love to golf. It is also close to Sherling Lake Park and Campground that contains 41 campsites and goes around two lakes that are located east of the golf course.

SeniorGuidance.org provides comprehensive resources on various senior living options, including: assisted living facilities, senior living communities, nursing homes, independent living communities, continuing care retirement communities (CCRC) and all other long term senior care options, including memory care such as Alzheimer's or Dimentia.

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