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The state of Idaho is a beautiful state with plenty of activities for seniors and people of any age. It is also well known for its beauty, diversity, and beautiful scenic views - mountains, lakes, and rivers are all found throughout the state of Idaho. The United States Forest Service owns 38% of the land in Idaho, so there is, and will continue to be, land that will be preserved. But, even with all the activities that are available to seniors living in Idaho, is Idaho a good option for a senior looking to retire?
Costs of Assisted Living in Idaho
It costs about $3,200 per month, (almost $50,000 a year) for an assisted living facility in Idaho, although the costs can get higher depending on the services required. Costs may also increase for residents with dementia and Alzheimer's Disease. This is because Idaho seniors living with dementia often require special facilities, specially trained staff, and a higher staff to resident ratio.
The cost of Assisted Living in Idaho is right around the national average of $3,293 per month, which is to be expected, as Idaho is a state with a higher cost of living around the national average (except in certain locations which cater to the very wealthy.) Assisted living costs in Idaho are still much lower than the cost of a nursing home, where semi-private rooms cost about $83,600 per year and a private room is around $89,000 per year.
The average cost for Adult Day Health Care in Idaho is $2,100 per month, which averages around $17,500 per year (based on five days a week for 52 weeks). A Home Health Aide costs, on average $3,800 a month, a little over $45,700 per year, which is about $8,000 higher than care in an Assisted Living Facility would be.
Hiring a full-time housekeeper in Idaho will cost you about $45,000 per year. It is estimated that by the year 2030, Assisted Living in Idaho will cost almost $58,100 per year – an increase of almost $20,000.
City to city assisted living costs in Idaho vary quite a bit, and are as follows:
- Idaho Falls, ID - $2,950 per month
- Boise City, ID - $3,065 per month
- Coeur d'Alene, ID - $3,325 per month
- Pocatello, ID - $3,665 per month
- Lewiston, ID - $4,250 per month
Who pays for Assisted Living Care in Idaho?
Medicaid is the only program that will help pay for assisted living services in Idaho, through waiver programs, and you must first qualify for Medicaid in Idaho. Waiver programs are NOT available in every state, however they are in available in Idaho, provided you meet the eligibility criteria.
Idaho does accept waivers for Assisted Living care. For more information on these programs you should contact the Idaho Medicaid office. These waivers include:
- Home and Community Based Waiver – this helps Idaho seniors and physically disabled citizens maintain self-sufficiency, independence, dignity, choice, and privacy in a cost-effect setting that is like a home. The costs for these services can’t be more than the cost of the care that would be provided in an institution. Services may be provided in the person’s home, a certified family home, or a residential or assisted living facility.
- Aged and Disabled Waivers – allows a senior to live independently and receive services in their home rather than in a skilled nursing facility;
- Medicare Medicaid Coordinated Plan (MMCP) – this plan has been available since 2006 but was expanded in 2014 to include most Medicaid services.
- MMCP is available for Idaho seniors and other individuals who meet the following:
- The individual is currently enrolled in both Medicare and Medicaid;
- More than 21 years old;
- Live in one of the following counties: Ada, Bingham, Bonner, Bannock, Bonneville, Canyon, Cassia, Boundary, Clark, Elmore, Gem, Jefferson, Fremont, Kootenai, Minidoka, Nez Perce, Madison, Owyhee, Payette, Power and Twin Falls;
- Does not have end-stage renal disease.
- The MMCP provides health care coverage with these features:
- Medicaid benefits are sometimes covered by private insurance carriers, as opposed to the traditional fee-for-service program that is typical of Medicaid;
- Medicaid covers your Medicare premiums for you;
- Access to the network of providers from your health plan may give you superior access to providers; and
- Only one insurance card to cover both Medicaid and Medicare services.
- The MMCP also gives coverage for services that are medically necessary and preventive that fall under Medicare Part A, Part and Prescription Drug Coverage under Part D, and the majority of services provided by Medicaid. These services include dental, vision, fitness benefit, 24-hour nurse line and care coordination.
Services for a senior living in Idaho
Idaho has many programs to help older seniors who need assistance, including:
- Community Based Services – designed to help older people in Idaho avoid institutionalization and help seniors who are currently in long-term care institutions to get back to independent living in Idaho communities. These include:
- Elderly client assessment, case management and development or coordination of community services;
- Services provided to seniors in their homes or in other senior community-based settings such as: home health, homemaker, shopping, escort, letter writing services, and other services as needed to enable the senior to continue living independently in a home environment;
- Health education and training – including senior mental health – counseling, homemaker, referral services and information as needed;
- Transportation services for seniors – provides access to other supportive services or nutrition services as well as services provided by the Idaho Area Agency on Aging;
- Supportive activities – activities that meet the needs of caregivers of the frail or elderly people.
- Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) – a program that helps low-income seniors in Idaho who are not working to acquire skills through training and job experience, so that they can compete successfully for available jobs. Those seniors participate will be given a case manager to assist them. During the training, the senior will get subsidized wages and will, after a period, be required to transition into unsubsidized employment. To qualify you must be:
- A senior who is 55 or older and is currently unemployed; and
- Have a Combined Family Income of less than 125% of the federal poverty level.
- Disease Preventive and Health Promotion – provides information, services, and activities for Idaho seniors over 60 and their spouses and families. Includes:
- Health screening and assessments;
- Physical Fitness activities;
- Health promotion programs;
- Medication management; and
- Home injury control services.
Classes that are provided include:
- Living Well in Idaho – a 6-week series of two-hour sessions addressing topics for effective self-management of chronic conditions such as Arthritis, depression, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and hypertension.
- Better Choices, Better Health® - a free on-line six-week workshop that helps seniors who have a variety of health issues, such as diabetes, Arthritis, chronic pain, anxiety, heart disease or high blood pressure.
- Fit and Fall Proof™ - an exercise-based fall prevention program. The class is held two to three times a week and helps Idaho seniors:
- Maintain independent living;
- Become more flexible, which results in lower chances of injuries;
- Become stronger;
- Get better balance and posture; and
- Improve their mobility, endurance, and walking gait.
- Over Sixty and Getting Fit – sponsored by the College of Southern Idaho, this class helps with the following:
- Improves cardiovascular health of participating seniors;
- Allows participating seniors to maintain independence;
- Helps seniors to get more flexible and keep that flexibility; and
- Improves seniors' strength, balance, and posture.
Retiring in Idaho
Idaho is an inexpensive state, both to live in and to retire; however, there are areas where the cost of living is above the national average. It also has some of the most beautiful views, lakes, rivers, and natural areas than anywhere else. However, you should do your research and maybe plan a trip, before making your move:
Here are some things to consider for senior living in Idaho:
- Weather – Idaho can get very cold - 16° F in January;
- Location – Idaho is not one of the easiest states to get to for those visiting, especially as it has just one international airport;
- Plenty of outdoor activities for the elderly residents; and
- History and Culture – there are many historical places in Idaho to visit and explore and Idaho truly has something for everyone.
Some of the popular things to do in Idaho are:
- Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve Arco, Idaho – for a senior who enjoys spending time outdoors or just seeing something unusual Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve is your destination. It is an ocean of lava flows formed between 15,000 and 20,000 years ago, during eight volcanic eruptions. Now seniors can spend the day hiking and exploring this area, including the Craters of the Moon Wilderness, the Lava Trees, and the Echo Crater;
- Sun Valley, Idaho – one of the most popular ski lodges in Idaho, they offer both cross-country and downhill skiing with beautiful views as well as lodges where Idaho elderly can stay the night or the weekend;
- Shoshone Falls, Idaho – one of the best natural wonders along the Snake River, this 212-foot waterfall is higher than Niagara Falls. Older Idaho residents can enjoy playgrounds, hiking trails, picnic areas, and boating and swimming in this beautiful natural paradise;
- Coeur d’Alene, Idaho – one of the most beautiful lakes anywhere in the country, Lake Coeur d’Alene, has both indoor and outdoor activities. Idaho seniors will take advantage of biking and hiking trails, a downtown area for shopping, and golf courses available;
- Idaho Falls, Idaho – considered to be the “cultural destination” of the area, there are stage plays, live acts and concerts at the Colonial Theater and Civic Auditorium. Idaho Falls Zoo is nearby where kids, and adults, can get up close and personal with the animals and plants on display.
Cons of senior living in Idaho:
- Weather can get cold and snowy in Idaho. On average the state gets 44 inches of snow per year (depending on the location) as Lewiston gets far less, if any;
- The only major airport in the state is in Boise, therefore for family who are coming to visit there may be a long drive ahead of them – Coeur d’Alene is a seven-hour drive from Boise; and
- Although the cost of living in Idaho is below the national average, there are areas, like Sun Valley and Ketchum which are popular destinations for retirees and are higher than the national average. This is partly because these locations have senior retirement communities that cater to the super rich.
Pros of senior living in Idaho:
- There are 30 state parks and plenty of green spaces for active seniors to explore;
- What’s the worst that could happen? You could just move home. Try it for a year and see if it works for you;
- Although Idaho’s tax burden ranks at 25th in the nation, there are benefits for seniors such as:
- No income tax for Social Security and no taxes on prescription drugs; and
- Low cost of living for seniors;
The state of Idaho has wide varieties in climate, partially due the varied altitude, and due to the maritime influence, that can affect the state – even though it is over 300 miles from the Pacific Ocean. The maritime influence makes for winters where clouds cover the sky and humidity and precipitation are at the maximum, but the temperature are mild compared to other northern states with high elevations like you find in Idaho. The eastern part of Idaho has precipitation patterns that are almost the opposite of the west – wetter summers, drier winters, and the seasonal temperature differences are much more extreme.
The weather can be get hot in Idaho for many seniors, although extended periods over 98° F are rare, except in the lowest part of the state, Lewiston. Lewiston, Idaho receives very little snow but the hot summer has low humidity and cooler evenings during the summer months.
The state of Idaho is the 14th largest state in America with 83,800 square miles, and the 39th most populous. It is the 44th most densely populated state with an estimated 20 people living in every square mile. Yet it is the 13th most densely populated with 214 people living in every square mile. The highest location is Borah Peak at 12,662 feet, and the lowest is the city of Lewiston, where the Snake and Clearwater River intersect.
The largest metropolitan areas in Idaho are:
- Boise City-Nampa, Idaho – population around 680,000;
- Coeur d-Alene, Idaho – population around 45,000;
- Idaho Falls, Idaho – the largest city in Eastern Idaho with a population around 58,000. The metropolitan population is approximately 137,000;
- Pocatello, Idaho – the principal city of the Pocatello metropolitan area with a population of around 55,000;
- Lewiston, Idaho – the principal city of the Lewiston, ID-Clarkston, WA metropolitan area. The population of Lewiston was almost 32,000.
The latest Census estimated that the population of Idaho was 1.65 million people, which is a 5.57% increase from the previous census. Idaho’s population was approximately: 90% White American; 0.6% Black or African-American; 1.4% American Indian and Alaska Native; and 1.2% Asian American. 11.2% of the population was of Hispanic or Latino descent (of any race) and as of 2011, 27.2% of children under the age of had at least one parent who was not non-Hispanic White.
The top three religious majorities are: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (23%); Evangelical Protestant (22%); and Roman Catholic (18%). 18% of Idahoans identified themselves as unaffiliated, 0.5% didn’t know or refused to answer, and 0.5% identified as “Otherworld.” The largest religious denominations by adherents were: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with over 400,000; The Roman Catholic Church with almost 125,000; the non-denominational Evangelical Protestant with around 62,500; and the Assemblies of God with around 22,000.
Idaho senior population has changed quite a bit since some years ago. Three age cohorts have more than doubled: those 19 and younger, those 20-39, and seniors age 65 and older. Those of middle age (between 40-64) have decreased; however, they still account for the largest segment of Idaho’s population. In Twin Falls County, the number of seniors who are 65 and older has increased from 10,728 in 2010 to 11,952 as of a few years ago. Seniors 64 and older make up 14.3% of the state’s population.
More seniors are going hungry in Idaho. There are 15 senior centers in the eight-county area surrounding Twin Falls that offer meals for seniors, including home-delivered meals. Although there has only been a 3% increase in meals served, there has been an 18% increase of home-delivered meals since 5+ years ago. Idahoans between 20-39, considered the workforce of the future, have experienced the second largest increase and are therefore filling in for the declining number of people between the ages of 40-64. As the baby boomers turn 65, at an average of between 8,000 and 11,000 per day, it is expected that senior wages will decrease as younger and more inexperienced workers take their place in the workforce.
English is the number one language spoken, with Spanish following. There are some Native American languages spoken in Idaho, yet their number are small. The Coeur d-Alene tribe has a total population of 2,000 but only 5 speakers of the language; The Northern Palute Tribe has an estimated 5,000 people with only 700 speaking the native language; Shoshone has about 12,000 members with only 2,000 speaking the native language; the Nez Pierce has 3,000 members with only 100 members speaking the language; and the Kootenai has 2,000 members with only 100 people who currently speak the language.
Idaho has state personal income tax that ranges between 1.5% and 7.8% in eight different income brackets – the 36th highest in the nation. Idaho residents may apply for state tax credits that have been paid to other states, as well as donations for Idaho state educational entities and some nonprofit youth and rehabilitation facilities. The state sales tax is 6% and applies to the sale, rental or lease of tangible personal property as well as some services. Food is taxed, yet prescription medication is not. Furthermore, hotel, motel, and campgrounds are taxed at a rate of 7.1%-11% and some areas impose a additional tax, making it the 26th highest in the nation. However, Idaho also has the 16th lowest cost of living for seniors in the nation. Real estate prices in Idaho are about average, although they vary depending on where you live. The Marginal Income Tax Rates range from 1.6% to 7.4% although that applies only for couples who make over $21,780 annually.
Personal property taxes in Idaho are the 37th highest in the nation.
There are no estate taxes in Idaho.
Idaho is considered to be a moderately tax-friendly state for seniors because: a) private and public pension income is fully taxed; b) withdrawals from senior retirement accounts are fully taxed; c) Social Security income is not taxed; d) marginal Idaho tax rate is 7.4%.
The purchasing power in Idaho is lower than the average in the United States. For example, what would cost you $107.07 in Idaho is what you would expect to spend $100 on in another state. The cost of living is lower in Idaho than it is in other states in every category. On a scale of 100 being the average, Idaho ranks overall at 95.0 and is lower in every area, even housing, which is ranked at 94.
Some places to consider for Idaho Senior living:
- Sweet Township, Idaho – with almost 35% of residents over the age of 65 and an average of 234 sunny days per year this location is also close to fitness facilities, golf courses. The average snowfall in winter is 13.6 inches;
- Emmett, Idaho – almost 20% of residents in this town are over the age of 65 and the average of 234 sunny days per year makes this town popular for those who love to be outdoors. The average snowfall is a little over 11 inches with an average temperature of 26° F. There are libraries, fitness centers, grocery stores and doctors nearby;
- Hayden, Idaho – almost 19% of this town has a population over the age of 65 and has, on average 201 sunny days a year. The low temperatures in winter average 27°F with an average snowfall of only 6.6 inches. It is also close to golf ranges, recreation, and fitness facilities;
- Lewiston, Idaho – located at the lowest point in the state, almost 19% of the residents are older than 65. The average low temperature in the winter is 31° F with an average annual snowfall of 2.2 inches. It is close to recreation facilities and it is at the intersection of the Snake and Clearwater rivers,
- Meridian, Idaho – a suburb of Boise, this is an area for not only seniors who are nature lovers, but also for those who enjoy spending their time inside. Approximately 10% of the population is over the age of 65 with an average of 234 sunny days per year. Probably due to its proximity to Boise, the access to doctors is plentiful, and so are golf courses, libraries, and recreation or fitness facilities. The average winter snowfall is approximately 4 inches with an average winter low temperature average of 28°F.