Senior Guidance

Arkansas Senior Living

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Costs of Assisted Living in Arkansas

Arkansas Senior LivingThe cost for an Assisted Living Facility in Arkansas averages about $3,100 per month ($38,000 per year), although the charges are higher depending on the services required. The national average of Assisted Living in the United States is $3,293 per month. The costs for Arkansas assisted living may also increase for seniors who have been diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer's. Assisted living costs in Arkansas are still much lower than the price of care in a nursing home, where semi-private rooms cost $58,856 and a private room is almost $70,500 per year.

Assisted Living in Arkansas is more expensive than Adult Day Health Care, which averages around $21,000 annually. Arkansas Assisted Living Facilities are cheaper than hiring a Home Health Aide which costs, on average, $41,000 a year. Remember that $41,000 is only for a 44-hour week. By the year 2030, it is estimated that Assisted Living in Arkansas will cost $56,858 per year – an increase of almost $20,000.

Here are the assisted living costs in Arkansas city-by-city, from cheapest to most expensive:

  • Fort Smith, AR - $2,075 per month
  • Pine Bluff, AR - $2,350 per month
  • Jonesboro, AR - $2,540 per month
  • Fayetteville, AR - $3,038 per month
  • Little Rock, AR - $3,650 per month
  • Hot Springs, AR - $4,013 per month

Arkansas assisted living costs vary greatly from city to city - with Hot Springs averaging over $4000/month, while Fort Smith, AR is half the cost at just a bit over $2000/month.

Who pays for Assisted Living Care in Arkansas?

Assisted Living care in Arkansas is paid for privately by either the Arkansas elders or their families. In Arkansas, seniors may be eligible to have Medicaid partially pay the assisted living care costs if they meet the following criteria:

  • (A) Senior cannot perform at least one of the three daily living activities (known as ADL) of toileting , locomotion/ transferring, or eating without assistance or total reliance on another individual; or
  • (B) At least two of the three daily living activities (ADL) which consists of toileting, locomotion/transferring and eating without help from another individual; or
  • The senior has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia and is impaired cognitively, so much that the senior requires considerable supervision from some other person due to their behavior or for safety concerns; or
  • The senior has a diagnosed medical condition requiring checking or monitoring at least once daily by a medical professional who is licensed and the condition, if it is not untreated, would be life threatening

To be eligible for Medicaid in Arkansas you must meet the following criteria, although you should check with the local Ombudsman in Arkansas for assistance:

  • Age – the senior must be over the age of 65 or, if between the ages of 21-64, they must have been designated as disabled by Social Security;
  • Arkansas Residency – the senior must be a resident within the state of Arkansas;
  • Needs – senior must require help with several activities of daily living, be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or some other dementia, or have a medical condition which impairs them enough that they need supervision;
  • Income – the senior can’t have a monthly income that is greater than 300% of Social Security Income (SSI or disability.) This year, the income requirement is $2,205 per month. For those who are married the monthly income of the spouse is considered to be independent, unless the spouse is applying for Medicaid as well;
  • Assets – single, widowed, or divorced people are allowed $2,000 in assets. A person’s home is counted as an asset if they are single.

Married seniors are subjected to different standards than are single seniors in Arkansas, and it is a more complicated process to determine the asset criteria. Arkansas is more generous than many states in that it allows the spouse to have over $100,000 in assets in addition to a vehicle, a home, furnishings, and personal items. If assets are in joint accounts they can be transferred to the spouse without penalization as long as it does not exceed the maximum limit allowed.

Services for a Senior Living in Arkansas

Arkansas has a rather basic system of services for older adults. The Arkansas Area Agency of Aging (AAA) handles the overwhelming majority of Arkansas senior services. Arkansas’s Area Agencies on Aging and the Ombudsman programs help all seniors living in Arkansas. Their primary goal is to help older adults and to provide details on programs, options, and community support for the elderly and the general population in Arkansas. Area Agency on Aging helps all seniors statewide, regardless of age or income level.

Some services are also handled by the Arkansas Ombudsman. Both are excellent senior living resources for Arkansas seniors to have no matter the case.

Arkansas Ombudsman's main goal is to locate, investigate, and resolve complaints of seniors living in Arkansas in various senior facilities – including all types of Arkansas assisted living facilities, as well as Nursing Facilities. Arkansas Ombudsman is often the "middleman" when dealing with government agencies and regular citizens. In Arkansas, you can either get in touch with your local Area Agency on Aging or contact Ombudsman directly.

Arkansas has a different system for caring for seniors than do most states and it is a bit confusing. What you should know is that the Ombudsman is your friend, your advocate, and should be on your side.

Other programs for seniors that Arkansas offers, include:

  • The Arkansas Choices in Living Program –  is a program which serves seniors, those with disabilities, families, caregivers, service providers and other interested parties. It is a free program with trained counselors to help Arkansas seniors sort through their options and help make informed decisions regarding their care or the care of their loved one.
  • There are also 5 helpful programs for seniors living in Arkansas through the Arkansas Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program:
  1. “Money Follows the Person” (MFP) – a program that is specifically designed for those who have lived in an institution for 90 consecutive days and one day on Medicaid into qualified home or community-based programs. It helps Arkansas seniors over 65, people with developmental challenges and people 21-64 years old with physical disabilities.
  2. ElderChoices Waiver – this is Arkansas’ Medicaid home and community-based waiver program for Arkansas seniors who are 65 years old and older. To be eligible for this program requires that the senior need assistance that would require them to be in a nursing facility if you could not get the services in your home. This waiver includes homemaker services, chore, home-delivered meals, adult day care/adult day health care, adult foster care, and respite care.
  3. Independent Choices – a service that allows people to self-direct their care needs at their home. It allows people to hire friends, relatives, and neighbors to help them with personal care services. It is a grant program called “Cash and Counseling Demonstration Project” funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation;
  4. Residential Care Facilities – facilities which are licensed by the state of Arkansas and provide services 24 hours a day to those over the age of 17 who aren’t capable of living alone. Those interested in this program must be independently mobile, capable of self-administration of medication, and able to respond to staff reminders and guidance; and
  5. Hospice Care – available for all ages during the final stages of life. Services are available either in your home or in a facility. The goal of hospice is to provide pain control and comfort to the patient and support services to the family, not to cure the illness. It includes medical and support services, counseling, homemaker services, and doctor services. If the person meets the eligibility requirements, hospice is covered by both Medicare and Medicaid in Arkansas.

Pros and Cons of Senior Living in Arkansas

Arkansas has a lot to offer to seniors who want to move to this beautiful state. There are mountains, lakes, and plenty of golf courses in between. When considering where you should live in and retire in Arkansas you should consider your options.

Here are some things to consider when choosing where to live in Arkansas:

  • Home prices – Arkansas has one of the lowest per capita incomes of any state which is reflected in the median home price.
  • Taxes – Arkansas is within the top 20 states with high taxes, yet there are exemptions up to $6000 for pensions and IRA distributions for seniors after the age of 59.5. Social Security income is also tax exempt. The Arkansas state sales tax is 6.5% with food taxed at 2% (although cities and counties can add to that). Property taxes are in the bottom ½ of the United States and there is a Homestead Exemption for Arkansas elderly over 65. Additionally, Arkansas does not have an inheritance tax;
  • Senior Retirement Communities – there are quite a few planned retirement communities in Arkansas and the world’s largest gated community is located in Arkansas;
  • Wide variety of lifestyle options – from the mountains of the Ozarks to the historic Hot Springs to downtown Little Rock there is always something different for seniors to see in Arkansas;
  • Many people will go out of their way to help someone in need. Many of the people from the South in a rural state still believe in helping your neighbor or even someone whose car has broken down on the highway.
  • The climate of Arkansas varies depending on elevation and proximity to the Gulf of Mexico, but the climate is mainly a humid subtropical climate. The summers are hot and humid, which is problematic for many seniors, with slightly drier and mild to cool winters. The northern half of the state is more likely to see snow whereas south of Little Rock, Arkansas you are more apt to get ice storms.
  • Arkansas is a state known for its extreme weather and many storms and the state sees severe weather such as thunderstorms, tornadoes, hail, snow, and ice storms in the span of a year. It is also close enough to the Gulf that remnants of hurricanes and tropical storms can drop large amounts of rain and spawn tornadoes during Hurricane season. Located in what is called “tornado alley,” this state has been affected by some of the most destructive tornadoes in U.S. History.

Arkansas Demographics

Located in the southeastern region of the United States, Arkansas is the 28th largest (by area) and the 33rd most populous state, with around 3 million people in 2017. Out of those 3 million, 1 million are over the age of 50. Near 21% of total population are Arkansas seniors who are 60 or older. 10% of the population in Arkansas are seniors over the age of 70. The population density of the state is 51.3 people per square mile. Of the 75 counties in Arkansas, 20 are considered by the United States Census Bureau to be metropolitan, with Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers being one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the country.

The metropolitan area of Little Rock-North-Little Rock-Conway is the largest in the state with almost 750,000 people, followed by Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers (approximately 500,000), Ft. Smith, (about 275,000), Texarkana (approximately 150,000), and Jonesboro (about 130,000). Arkansas is a part of the Bible Belt and is mainly Protestant with 86% identifying as Christians; 14% are non-religious and less than 1% are either Buddhist or Muslim. English is the primary language in Arkansas followed by Spanish, another Indo-European language, and an Asian language.

The racial composition of Arkansas in the last census was approximately: 77% White; 15.5% Black; 0.8% American Indian or Alaskan Native and 1.2% Asian American. 6.4% of the population of any race identified as Hispanic or Latino. Whites, or European Americans live mainly in the northwestern Ozarks and central part of the state while African-Americans live in the southern and eastern parts. Arkansans descended from Irish, English, and Germany ancestry are found mostly in the far northwestern Ozarks near the Missouri border.

The state income tax in Arkansas ranges between 1%-7% of a resident’s income – one of the highest in the nation. Arkansas also imposes a sales tax of between 6.5% - 12%. Arkansas is the 48th richest state in the nation, or 3rd poorest. On average, the per capita income of Arkansas is $16,904 (2000.) However, Arkansas is a low-cost state. For example, $114.24 will buy you things that would cost you $100 in a different state.

Some places to consider for Arkansas Senior living:

  • Van Buren, Arkansas – the county seat of Crawford County with the Arkansas-Oklahoma border a mere two miles to the west. It is home to the King Opera House and the Crawford County Courthouse – the oldest functioning courthouse west of the Mississippi River;
  • De Queen, Arkansas – the county seat of Sevier County in southwestern Arkansas. There is a campus of the Cossatot Community College there, which provides non-credit coursework in adult education as well as other programs - perfect for seniors who like to continue their education even in their senior years;
  • Greenwood, Arkansas – located in Sebastian County, one of the most famous sites is a park in the center of town that seniors can enjoy. The town holds a "Freedomfest" on July 4th every year at the park and it is also the place of other community gatherings;
  • Warren, Arkansas – located in Bradley County, it is known, among other things, for the “Bradley County Pink Tomato Festival” which is held on the second week of June;
  • El Dorado, Arkansas – the county seat of Union County, Arkansas. It is the headquarters of the Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission. Its nickname is "Arkansas’s Original Boomtown."

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 Dementia.

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