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Arizona has been a destination for seniors and retirees for many years. Del Webb opened his Sun City retirement community in Maricopa County near Phoenix on January 1, 1960. With the numerous assisted living facilities and senior living communities in Arizona, as well as a plethory of services available to aging individuals, it may just be one of the best states for a senior looking to retire.
Services for a senior living in Arizona
Arizona has a vast array of services for older adults, some of which we will discuss here, but most are handled by the Area Agency on Aging, which is a good resource to have for seniors living in Arizona no matter the case.
Arizona’s Area Agencies on Aging (AAA) helps older Arizonans through its various senior programs and services. Its main purpose is to advocate for senior citizens and to provide information on programs for seniors who live in Arizona. It also provides community support for the elderly in Arizona.
Arizona also has a Long Term Care Ombudsman, as do many other states, whose primary objective is to identify, investigate, and resolve complaints of residents of facilities – including Assisted Living facilities in Arizona and Arizona Nursing Facilities. It is recommended that you contact your local Area Agency on Aging in Arizona to get in touch with your local Ombudsman.
There are nutrition programs available – both congregate and delivered, that are available for eligible Arizona seniors. More information on that can be found by contacting the Area Agency on Aging in your area.
The Mature Worker Services for Arizonians is a program for those that, for whatever reason, work past the age of 50. It helps connect individuals to employment, find volunteer opportunities, and find education and training programs. There is also a Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP), which provides useful part-time, work-based training options for low-income Arizona seniors who are 55 years old or older. This program covers older Arizonians who are not working and do not have good employment choices and are looking for something to fill their time with.
Those Arizona seniors who are eligible and who participate in SCSEP get assessed for needs training, supportive services, and potential for employment. The participating seniors are paid either the state or federal minimum wage – whichever is higher. Other job-related training skills that the elderly acquire include: advancing or updating current job skills, some educational opportunities, employment counseling and help both finding and keeping a job. Those who participate in these programs are helped with finding employment at the end of the training.
Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) is a program which helps Arizona residents with daily activities, thus allowing them to live in their home. The services include: Adult Day Health Care, home-delivered meals and meals at senior centers, housekeeping, personal care, respite care, transportation, and visiting nurse. This program is only available to Arizona seniors who are eligible, which includes:
- 60 years old or older;
- 18-60 years old with a disability; and
- Those who are impaired and therefore not able to perform ADLs (bathing, dressing, toileting, transferring, etc).
Costs of Assisted Living in Arizona
The cost for an Assisted Living Facility in Arizona averages about $3,500 per month ($42,000 per year), although the costs increase depending on the services required. This is comparable to the national average of $3,293 per month. The cost may also increase for residents with dementia or Alzheimer's disease. Assisted living costs in Arizona are considerably lower than the cost of an Arizona nursing home, where semi-private rooms cost $79,555 and a private room is almost $93,075 per year.
Assisted Living in Arizona costs more than Adult Day Health Care, which averages around $21,800 per year. Arizona Assisted Living Facilities are cheaper than hiring a Home Health Aide which costs, on average $48,000 a year. It is estimated that by the year 2030, Assisted Living in Arizona will cost $63,529 per year – an increase of over $41,000.
Looking at city-by-city costs, Arizona's cities have the following monthly assisted living costs:
- Lake Havasu City, AZ - $3,150 per month
- Tucson, AZ - $3,325 per month
- Yuma, AZ - $3,375 per month
- Phoenix, AZ - $3,470 per month
- Sierra Vista, AZ - $3,572 per month
- Prescott, AZ - $3,830 per month
- Flagstaff, AZ - $4,005 per month
Lake Havasu is the most affordable city in Arizona when it comes to assisted living. Flagstaff is the most expensive - with a monthly price of $850+ more than Lake Havasu, AZ.
Who pays for Assisted Living Care in Arizona?
Most Assisted Living care in Arizona is paid for privately by either the Arizona seniors or their families. In Arizona, Medicaid is referred to as the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS). It is a managed care system and operates much like a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) does. There is also a separate part for elderly and/or disabled Arizona residents, called the Arizona Long Term Care System (ALTCS.) In Arizona, the ALTCS is the part of Medicaid that would help pay for senior care in an Assisted Living Facility. There are two options under the ALTCS program:
- Aging With Choice (AWC)/Community First Choice (CFC) Option – this is Arizona’s newest option that lets seniors receiving care to hire, train and fire the caregiver of their choosing. This options allows seniors to hire family members to be their primary care providers if they choose. To be eligible, residents of Arizona must meet both functional and financial eligibility requirements which are performed by caseworkers via assessments. The eligibility requirements include a $2,000 monthly resource cap for an individual or $3,000 for a couple, must be at least 65 years old, and have a disability which qualifies or they require assisted care. There is also a monthly income cap which varies based on marital status and their living situation, but those with a monthly income under $2,199 should be eligible for some assistance; and
- Self-Directed Attendant Care (SDAC) Option – allows those needing assistance to serve as the legal employer of their caregiver, including a family member. Any resident of Arizona who is eligible for Medicaid qualifies for this option.
Pros and Cons of Senior Living in Arizona
Arizona is a diverse state and it is only getting more diverse racially. It has deserts, mountains, and even snowy parts. When seniors are considering where they should live in Arizona, they should consider all of their options.
Here are some things to consider when choosing where to live and retire in Arizona:
- Weather – with more than 300 days of sunshine a year, there should be plenty for seniors to do in the state of Arizona. There are two months in the summer that are extraordinarily hot, but compared to other places, the great weather days outnumber the bad for seniors living in Arizona. The climate of Arizona is so different in different parts of the state because of where the state is located geographically and the variations in elevation. In the parts of Arizona that are lower in elevation, the climate is considered as desert with soft winters and very hot summers, although between the periods of late fall and early spring the weather is mostly mild – with an average of at least 60° F. The coldest months are November through February when the temperatures range from 40° F to 75° F and it does frost occasionally The months of June through September are hot, but it is a dry heat which is easier to handle for seniors than humid air. However, the temperatures range from 90° F to 120° F - making the heat unbearable for many seniors living in Arizona, and forcing them to stay indoors during the hottest summer days. If you are a senior who is looking for a state with a wide variety of temperatures, then Arizona may be the state for you!
- Cost of living –the median home value in Arizona is around $190,000 which is above the national median, but the areas of Tucson, Mesa, and Phoenix all have median home values that are lower than the national median;
- Arizona Retirement Communities – if you choose to live in an age-segregated retirement community, Arizona is the state for you. There are over 80 55+ retirement communities in Arizona, in locations from Sun City, Tucson, Mesa, Surprise and more;
- Golfing – if you are a senior who loves golfing, then Arizona may be your state. There are numerous golf courses in this state, both attached and not attached to retirement communities, one being the PebbleCreek community in Goodyear, Arizona;
- Crime rate – although the overall crime rate in Arizona is above the average nationally, there are communities where it is significantly less. It’s just a matter of doing your research.
Arizona is in the southwestern region of the United States and is the 14th most populous and sixth most populated state. It has 113,998 square miles, of which 15% is privately owned with the remaining area being public forest, park land, state trust land and Native American reservations. It is one of the “four corners” states, along with New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, and Colorado, although it also shares a border with California. Arizona’s border with Mexico is 389 miles long.
The metropolitan area of Phoenix is the largest in the state with almost 4.2 million people (over 65% of the population of the state), followed by Tucson (approximately 1 million), Mesa, (about 500,000), Chandler (approximately 260,000), and Gilbert (about 250,000). More than 16% of the total Arizona population are seniors age 65 or older. The top three religious majorities are: The Roman Catholic Church (25%), Evangelical Christians (23%), and Protestantism (15%). 22% of Arizonans identified as non-religious or unaffiliated.
English is the primary language in Arizona, followed by Spanish, Navajo, German and Chinese (tied), and Tagalong. Arizona is home to the greatest number of Native American language speakers in the 48 contiguous states with Apache County having the highest concentration of Native American speakers in the U.S.
The racial composition of Arizona in the last census was approximately: 73% White; 5% American Indian or Alaskan Native; 3% Black; and 0.5% Asian. The southern and central parts of the state are mainly Mexican-American, especially near the Mexican border. The north-central and northwestern counties are inhabited by White Americans, and the northeastern part has many American Indians. If current populations trends continue, Arizona will become a minority-majority state by 2027.
Arizona has a low state income tax that ranges between 2.59% and 4.54%, making it very tax-friendly for seniors living there. Social security benefits are also exempt from taxes in the state of Arizona. There are also no inheritance or estate taxes in the state. Arizona has the 29th highest per capita income in the nation at $20,275. The purchasing power is about average in Arizona. For example, $103.73 will buy you things that would cost you $100 in a different state.
Places of Interest for Seniors in Arizona
There are a wide variety of activities for seniors in Arizona, especially considering the natural beauty in the state. Here are some ideas for activities for senior citizens living in Arizona:
- Horseshoe Bend, Arizona – located outside of Page, Arizona. This natural creation is in Glen Canyon, four miles south of the Glen Canyon Dam. The trailhead to the ¾ mile hike is just outside of Page, Arizona;
- Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum – located in Tucson, Arizona. This is a combination of a zoo, natural history museum, botanical garden, and art gallery. There are two aviaries as well – one for hummingbirds and one for desert birds;
- Cactus Forest Drive – located in Saguaro National Park, Arizona. This is an eight-mile-drive in the Eastern Part of Saguaro National Park where seniors can see the great Saguaro cactus;
- Desert Botanical Garden – located in Phoenix, Arizona. This unique botanical garden allows elderly Arizonians to learn about the plants that grow in the desert;
- Arizona Copper Art Museum – located in Clarksdale, Arizona (a former copper town.) The museum features work by American and European coppersmiths from the 16th-21st centuries;
- Chapel of the Holy Cross – located in Sedona, Arizona. This chapel was constructed among the rock formations that were naturally in the desert and the views are spectacular;
- London Bridge – located in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. This is the original bridge from England that was purchased and re-assembled in Lake Havasu City, Arizona;
- Grand Canyon South Rim – located in Grand Canyon National Park. The South Rim is more developed than the North Rim and will therefore be busier; however, there are amenities such as hotels, water stations and bus services that seniors can take advantage of. Highlights of the South Rim include Pipe Creek Vista and Yavapai Point;
- O.K. Corral – located in Tombstone, Arizona. This is the site of the famous, or infamous, 1881 “Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.” You can visit Doc Holliday’s room and see photos from Tombstone in the 1880s; and
- Anthem Veterans Memorial – located in Anthem, Arizona. This amazing monument is to honor those who have served in our country’s armed forces. At 11:11 am, on November 11th, Veterans Day, the sun aligns perfectly to form a solar spotlight on the mosaic of the Great Seal of the United States.
Some Places to Consider for Arizona Senior living
- Tucson, Arizona – located in, and the county seat of, Pima County, Arizona. Tucson is home to many annual cultural events and fairs that seniors can enjoy, such as the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show; the Tucson Festival of Books; Tucson Folk Festival; Fourth Avenue Street Fair; The Tucson Rodeo; All Souls Procession Weekend. Also, there is the Arizona Historical Society; The Fremont House; Fort Lowell Museum; Mission San Xavier del Bac; Tucson Museum of Art; The University of Arizona Museum of Art; DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun; Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum; Pima County Fair; and Museum of the Horse Soldier. The population is approximately 535,000 people, with around 12% age 65 or older. Last year, Tucson ranked #9 of 223 of the “Best Cities to Retire in America,” #58 of 223 of the “Healthiest Cities in America,” and #35 of 223 of the “Most Diverse Cities in America;”
- Nogales, Arizona – located in, and the county seat of, Santa Cruz County which borders the city of Nogales, Sonora, Mexico. Nogales and the county where it's located have 200 properties that are part of the National Register of Historic Sites that the Arizona elderly can visit, including Old Nogales City Hall, Tumacacori National Monument, Old Tubac Schoolhouse, Santa Cruz County Courthouse, and Patagonia Railroad Depot. The population of Nogales is around 21,000 people, of which around 11% are seniors age 65 or older. Last year, Nogales ranked #38 of 95 of the “Healthiest Places to Live in Arizona,” #15 of 35 of the “Safest Places to Live in Arizona,” and #77 out of 95 of the “Best Places to Retire in Arizona;”
- Yuma, Arizona – located in, and the county seat of Yuma County, Arizona. The city of Yuma has the widely known Yuma Territorial Prison, the Yuma Quartermaster Depot State Historic Park as well as a historic area known as the downtown. Nearby are the Kofa Mountain Range as well as Martinez and Mittry Lakes, wildlife refuge, and the Algodones Dunes. On the north and west sides of the town runs the Colorado River, which serves as the border between Arizona and California. The population is estimated to be around 95,000 with around 14% senior citizens age 65 or older. Last year, Yuma ranked #15 of 97 of the “Most Diverse Places to Live in Arizona,” #36 out of 95 of the “Best Places to Retire in Arizona,” and #54 of 97 of the “Best Places to Live in Arizona;”
- Prescott Valley, Arizona – located in Yavapai County, Arizona. A suburb of Prescott, Prescott Valley is only 10 minutes away from the Prescott National Forest where there are lakes, fishing, hiking and camping. The population is estimated to be around 43,000 with approximately 26% of residents 65 years of age or older. Last year, Prescott Valley ranked #13 of 35 of the “Safest Places to Live in Arizona” and #63 of 95 of the “Best Places to Retire in Arizona;”
- Scottsdale, Arizona – in Maricopa County, Arizona. Scottsdale is known for the “Scottsdale Museum of Art,” the “Scottsdale Artwalk,” “Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show” and the “Barrett-Jackson Auto Show.” The population of Scottsdale is estimated to be over 240,000 with almost 20% age 65 or older. Last year, Scottsdale ranked #1 of 223 of the “Best Places to Retire in America,” #36 of 223 of the “Best Cities to Live in America,” and #54 of 223 of the “Healthiest Cities in America;”
- Sun City, Arizona – located in Maricopa County, Arizona. The population is around 40,000 of which almost 80% are aged 65 or older, although the median age is 75 years of age. This is the original Del Webb “Sun City” that opened on January 1, 1960. There are eight golf courses located in Sun City, Arizona. Last year, Sun City ranked #2 of 95 of the “Best Places to Retire in Arizona,” #23 of 95 of the “Healthiest Places to Live in Arizona,” and #17 of 40 of the “Best Suburbs to Live in Phoenix Metro;”
- Benson, Arizona – located in Cochise County, Arizona, Benson was originally created as a rail terminal and is still working as such. It is known today as the home of the Kartchner Caverns State Park and the Singing Wind Bookshop which specializes in books about the Southwestern part of America. The population of Benson has been hovering around 5,000 since the year 2000, and of those almost 30% are age 65 or older. Last year, Benson ranked #12 of 95 of the “Best Places to Retire in Arizona,” #32 of 97 of the “Best Places to Buy a House in Arizona,” and #38 of 97 of the “Best Places to Live in Arizona;”
- Wickenburg, Arizona – located mainly in Maricopa County, Arizona with a part in the neighboring county of Yavapai. It got its name from a German prospector who discovered the Vulture Mine and more than $30 million worth of gold has been removed from the mine. Wickenburg is also the “Dude Ranch Capital of the World.” The population is estimated to be around 7,000 with around 28% of retirement age. Last year, Wickenburg was ranked #14 of 95 of the “Best Places to Retire in Arizona,” and #6 of 18 of the “Safest Suburbs in Arizona;”
- Sedona, Arizona – located in both Coconino and Yavapai counties in Arizona. Sedona is home to the “Sedona International Film Festival,” the “Sedona Solstice Festival,” and the “Illuminate Film Festival.” The population is approximately 10,500 of whom over 25% are 65 years or older. Last year, Sedona ranked #18 of 95 of the “Best Places to Retire in Arizona” and #32 of 95 of the “Healthiest Places to Live in Arizona;” and
- Globe, Arizona – located in, and the county seat of Gila County, Arizona. The Globe Downtown Historic District is on the National Register of Historic Places. The population of Globe has been hovering around 7,500 residents since 2000 and is currently approximately 7,400 with around 16% seniors living there who are age 65 or older. Last year, Globe ranked #8 of 97 of the “Most Diverse Places to Live in Arizona,” #20 of 95 of the “Best Places to Retire in Arizona,” and #23 of 97 of the “Best Places to Live in Arizona.”