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The state of Maine is the northernmost state in the northeastern region of the United States. Maine is the 42st most populated state in America with an estimated 1.33 million people. It has an area of 35,385 square miles and is the 39th largest state in the nation. The state density is 38th in the nation with 43 people per square mile. Maine has the 2nd highest percentage of senior citizens in the country, at over 18%. But is Maine a good option for senior living?
Costs of Assisted Living in Maine
The cost for Assisted Living Care in Maine state averages almost $5,000 per month, (close to $60,000 a year). The costs vary greatly from city to city - for example, Assisted Living in Bangor, Maine costs $4,100 monthly, while those living in the Portland area pay almost $6,000 per month. The costs also may fluctuate from facility to facility for Maine seniors with dementia and Alzheimer's.
The U.S. average cost for Assisted Living is $3,293 per month, and Maine's assisted living is much more expensive at $5,000. Nursing homes in Maine are much more expensive than assisted living facilities - with semi-private rooms costing over $100,000 per year, and a private room carrying a cost of almost $110,000 annually.
Adult Day Health Care in Maine averages $2,300 per month or around $58,100 per year. A Home Health Aide in Maine costs, on average $4,500 a month, almost $54,500 annually. Although the cost of a Home Health Aide is cheaper than an Assisted Living facility, you must consider that a Home Health Aide is based on a 44-hour-week, whereas Assisted Living provides 24-hour care (168 hour week). It is estimated that by the year 2030, Assisted Living in Maine will cost almost $90,600 per year – an increase of around $31,000.
Within Maine itself, the costs of Assisted Living Care vary as well, for example, these are the latest approximate costs of a monthly stay in an Assisted Living Facility in Maine:
- Bangor, Maine - $4,100;
- Lewiston Area, Maine - $5,500; and
- Portland Area, Maine - $5,600.
Who pays for Assisted Living Care in Maine?
Most often, Maine Assisted Living care costs are paid for by Maine Assisted Living Residents or their families. The state of Maine has quite a few waiver programs for Home and Community Based Services (HBCS) and Long Term Care Facility Services for residents of different categories. The state governments have realized that it is cheaper, and preferable to the older person, to remain in the community either at home or in an Assisted Living Facility than it is to go into a nursing facility. However, in many cases to remain at home requires assistance – financial, emotional, and physical.
The process in the state of Maine is surprisingly straightforward – although we are sure there is much paperwork involved.
First, if you think that you, or someone you know or care for, would benefit from in-home services you can apply for community services via Goold Health Systems (1-800-609-7893.) Goold Health Systems does assessments for elderly people or other people who need community services to live independently. There is no charge for them to come to you and assess your needs and possible eligibility for services. If they determine that someone is eligible for in-home services then there will be a “Plan of Care” (also called a “Care Plan”) written that lists the services you are eligible for and, if you are financially needy you will need to complete a MaineHealth application to pay for these services.
In most cases, you will be referred to Elder Independence of Maine (EIM) which is an agency that coordinates in-home services for their clients. However, some seniors may be able to choose Alpha One to coordinate their services which allows consumers to self-direct their care. There are waiver programs that can help eligible residents with financing home health needs and assisted living.
Helpful Programs for Seniors Living in Maine
Maine has quite a few programs to help seniors, many of these programs are coordinated by the five Area Agencies on Aging, or the local Aging and Disability Resource Centers. There is also a helpful Community Support Provider Directory webpage for Maine senior citizens that gives phone numbers across the state.
MaineCare is the public assistance program that provides healthcare for Maine seniors who are 65 years of age or older and meet the following requirements:
- Must be 65 years of age or older;
- Must be a United States citizen or an eligible qualified non-citizen;
- Must be able to provide statements of income and assets, including trusts, annuities, life insurance, property value, burial policies, and declaration of safety deposit box contents.
You can apply for MaineCare at one of the AAAs, but you may need to fill out these forms prior to your appointment. There is even a form available for help with nursing facility costs, as well as residential care facility expenses.
Maine also provides the following services for elderly Maine residents:
Maine Nutrition Services:
- Home-Delivered Meals – available to those who are eligible – including being homebound and unable to prepare meals by yourself. Meals are delivered by volunteers and paid staff and come in a specialized container which ensures the proper temperature of the meal; and
- Community Dining – there are over 100 areas in Maine where older and/or disabled people can get meals during the day. Some of them are open on weekdays and others are open less often. Contact your AAA or call 1-877-353-3771.
Abuse, Neglect, or Exploitation – legal or protective programs, both physical and emotional – that are available to Maine seniors:
- Adult Protective Services – provides services for elderly adults who are physically and/or mentally impaired, adults with disabilities, mental illness, or substance abuse and who are in danger. Danger to elderly people is not just physical, it can be emotional or financial as well. While it is thought that older people are more in danger in a facility, it is more likely to occur at home and the perpetrator is more likely to be a family member; and
- Hotline for APS – 1-800-624-8404 – call this number if you think that an older/disabled person is being abused. You can make the call anonymously.
Maine Support for Caregivers – if you are a caregiver and need support there are programs available for you, including the National Family Caregiver Program (NFCP), the Savvy Caregiver Program, and the Caregiver Respite program. If you are in this position you can call your local ARDC for assistance.
Education for Seniors – there are different programs in Maine that provide both education and/or education programs for seniors.
Legal issues for Seniors – there are many different legal issues that seniors living in Maine may encounter and need assistance with – either financial or information. These include:
- Legal Services for the Elderly – this link directs you to where you can find free legal services for those seniors over age 60. You may need to meet eligibility requirements beyond an age, but these are the people that can direct you to the correct place.
- Consumer Rights specific to the Elderly – Maine has a special webpage for consumer rights that are elder-specific, including nursing home rights, funeral abuses, social security schemes and hearing aids. You can email your questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org; and
- Attorney General of Maine – you can always contact the Attorney General for assistance.
- Guardianship services – there are certain cases where a person may need to have a guardian. This often happens in cases of abuse or neglect, but can also be necessary for those with dementia or other disabilities.
Homeward Bound – This is the name for Maine’s “Money Follows the Person” program. It is used for people age 18 or older, who have been in a nursing facility or a hospital for at least 90 days – not including a short-term stay for rehabilitation services – and who desire to move back into the community. The person receiving these services MUST have received Medicaid benefits for at least one of those 90 days and they must qualify for MaineCare.
If you, or someone you care for meets these requirements then you should discuss with the social worker or discharge planner your desire to use the “Homeward Bound” services. The person will be assessed to see if this is a program that would be beneficial to them. If so, the Transition Coordinator will determine if you are eligible for Homeward Bound and then try and locate services and programs for the person.
During your one-year of services provided by Homeward Bound, you and your Care Plan will be routinely assessed to ensure that your needs are being met. When the program ends, after 365 days, the Community Coordinator will help find community services that continue to meet the needs of the person. Some of the services that may be available after the 365 days are: Home and Community Based Waiver Services (depending on eligibility), Medicaid State Plan Services, Specialized Clinical Assessments, Assistance with Independent Living, Household Start-Up assistance, Care Coordination, Technology Services, Peer Supports, and Consultation with Community Planners.
Pros and Cons of Senior Living in Maine
Here are some things to consider for seniors when choosing whether to retire to Maine:
- Affordability – Maine has a low cost of living, particularly compared with other places in the northeastern United States;
- Outdoor recreation – Maine has 3,478 miles of coastline and 3,400 lakes. There are 3,166 islands in Maine, some inhabited, some private, and some available for kayakers and campers. There are almost 100 mountains that are over 3,000 feet and 17.5 million acres of forest in Maine. Whether you prefer to be in the water, hiking a mountain, camping in a forest, or laying on a beautiful beach, Maine can offer that to you;
- Health-care – not only is Maine one of the healthiest states in the nation, but there is a low percentage of people without health insurance. Maine Medical Center in Portland consistently ranks as one of the top performing hospitals in the country and ranks high in geriatrics. Additionally, five rural hospitals in Maine have been ranked highly regarding quality of care;
- Older median age – the median age of Maine residents is 43 and the state has a high percentage of baby boomers as well. The government has taken this into account and tried to position itself to be able to adequately prepare for an aging population (in fact, one of the concerns is that there will not be enough younger people to support Maine’s aged population); and
- Spare time? Not in Maine – Maine has a website, www.volunteermaine.org, which helps pair residents with volunteer opportunities that meet their skill level. The state also has a network of colleges and other providers that offer classes in a variety of areas. Some of the liberal arts colleges in the state, Bowdoin, Bates, and Colby, offer free lectures as well.
Financial Information for Maine Seniors
Maine has a state income tax that covers three different brackets, ranging from 0 to 7.15%. There is a state sales tax of 5.5%, and an additional 8% for prepared food and 10% for auto-rentals for a short amount of time. There are exemptions allowed for organizations such as hospitals, churches, schools, libraries, etc.
Property taxes are applied to all tangible property unless it has been specifically exempted. There is a homestead exemption for Mainers who have owned homestead property for at least one year if they make the property in which they reside their permanent residence by April 1 of that year. After meeting those requirements, there is an exemption of $10,000.
Maine does not have an inheritance tax, but it does have an estate tax. The estate tax includes any taxable gifts that were made during the one year prior to the death of the person. The Estate Tax rates are:
- 8% for estates worth $5.45 million to $8.45 million;
- 10% for estates worth $8.45 million to $11.56 million; and
- 12% for estates worth $11.45 million or greater.
Maine is not a very tax-friendly state for seniors, due to the following:
- Income from Social Security is not taxed, however the following are taxed:
- Withdrawals from retirement accounts are partially taxed;
- Wages are taxed at normal rates, in Maine the rate is 5.8%;
- Public pension income is partially taxed; and
- Private pensions are partially taxed.
Maine is a low-price state. For example, what you could purchase for $100 in Maine is what you would expect to spend $102.99 on in another state. The cost of living is lower in Maine overall than it is in other states in every category with housing being the biggest difference. Out of 100 points, Maine came in with a cost of living of 97.60. Maine rated lower overall (98), and in the category of housing (81); however, it rated higher in health (112), miscellaneous (104), groceries (105.7), transportation (105), and utilities (107).
Places of Interest for Seniors Living in Maine
There are many things that might be of interest for senior citizens in Maine State. Some of the more interesting things that seniors, and those who visit them, may enjoy in Maine include:
- Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens – located in Boothbay, Maine. These gardens are spread over 270 acres overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. There is stonework, waterfalls, fountains, trails through the woods, and beautiful flowers and plants;
- Cape Neddick Nubble Lighthouse – located in York, Maine. Certainly, a beautiful lighthouse, the Cape Neddick Nubble Lighthouse is also one of the most photographed. It is a 41-foot tall conical tower that sits on a small rocky inlet, the Cape Neddick Bubble, protecting the area from ships in the Atlantic;
- Ogunquit Playhouse – located in Ogunquit, Maine. Originally started in the summer of 1933 in a renovated garage in the town square of Ogunquit, the Ogunquit Playhouse is still in operation today as “America’s Foremost Summer Theatre;”
- Maine Maritime Museum – located in Bath, Maine. The 20-acre campus on the banks of the Kennebec River in the town of Bath is the home to this museum. There is an indoor, air-conditioned gallery that includes hands-on activities for seniors and those of all ages. The museum continues outside where you can take a guided tour or just walk around by yourself exploring. The historic Percy & Small Shipyard is here which allows visitors to see how the large wooden boats were constructed. Depending on the season, you can also take a cruise from this museum;
- Allegash Brewing Company – located in Portland, Maine. This brewing company has dedicated itself to crafting Belgian-inspired beer and are best known for the Allagash White. In 2004, they launched Curieux and in 2007 the traditional Coolship was introduced. Tours are available;
- Pemaquid Point Lighthouse – located in Bristol, Maine. This lighthouse is one of six lighthouses in Maine that still use what is called a “Frensel Lens” to focus the light from the lighthouse. This is the lighthouse that was chosen to be featured on the Maine quarter during the “50 State Quarters Program” issued by the U.S. Mint. In 1985, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places;
- Abbe Museum – located in Bar Harbor, Maine. This museum is dedicated to the culture of the native people of Maine, known as the Wabanaki people as a group (individually this includes the Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, Micmac, and Maliseet Native Mainers.) There are two locations for this museum. The shops sell unique gifts and art and shipping can be arranged;
- George B. Door Museum – located in Bar Harbor, Mount Desert Island, Maine. This museum has dioramas of wildlife that live off the coast of Maine as well as a hands-on tidal pool with living sea stars, hermit crabs, snails, and other creatures that visitors can touch and observe;
- Joshua L. Chamberlain Museum – located in Brunswick, Maine. This museum was the home of and now pays tribute to Joshua Chamberlain, the former governor of Maine and the president of Bowdoin College. Chamberlain fought valiantly during the American Civil War at Gettsyburg, Petersburg, and Appomattox. He is known among Civil War and history scholars when told of the surrender of the “Army of Northern Virginia” by General Gordon. This was the first time in recorded history that the winning side showed respect and saluted the losing side.
Some cities to consider for Maine Senior Living
Here are some cities or towns that have ranked highly in different categories that are helpful to Maine seniors:
- Freeport, Maine – located in Cumberland County, Maine. Freeport is the home to the company L.L. Bean, Wolfe’s Neck State Park, and the Desert of Maine. Freeport has a population of approximately 10,000 people with around 13% being age 65 or older;
- York Harbor, Maine – located in York County, Maine. York Harbor is part of the Portland-South Portland-Biddeford metropolitan statistical area. This town in known for its resort architecture and was a popular place for wealthy families to go during the summer during the late 1800s. The population of York Harbor is approximately 3,100 of whom around 23.7% are seniors aged 65 or older. Last year, York Harbor ranked #3 out of 60 of the “Best Places to Retire in Maine,” and #31 out of 45 of the “Best Suburbs to Live in Maine;”
- Ellsworth, Maine – a city in, and the county seat of Hancock County, Maine. Ellsworth is known for the Agassiz Outcrop, a National Historic Landmark, which is noted for proof of glaciation. The town has experienced tremendous growth since the turn of the century – almost a 20% growth previously from 2000 to 2010. The population is around 10,000 with around 16% age 65 or older. Last year, Ellsworth ranked #12 out of 60 of the “Best Places to Retire in Maine,” and #19 out of 62 of the “Healthiest Places to Live in Maine;”
- Belfast, Maine – located in Waldo County, Maine. This seaport town is notable for its antique architecture and is a popular tourist destination. It has a population of approximately 7,000, around 22% of whom are age 65 or older. Last year, Belfast ranked #5 of 60 of the “Best Places to Retire in Maine,” and #33 out of 62 of the “Most Diverse Places to Live in Maine;”
- Old Orchard Beach, Maine – located in York County. Old Orchard is part of the Portland-South Portland-Biddeford, Maine metropolitan statistical area. It is located on the inner side of Saco Bay and is a popular tourist site. The population is estimated to be 9,000 of which around 15% are older residents age 65 or older. Last year, Old Orchard ranked #3 of 45 of the “Most Diverse Suburbs in Maine,” #11 out of 60 of the “Best Places to Retire in Maine,” and #9 of 16 of the “Safest Suburbs in Maine;”
- Phippsburg, Maine – located in Sagadahoc County, Maine. This town is popular with tourists and is home to the Bates-Morse Mountain Conservation Area, Fort Popham State Historic Site, Fort Baldwin, and Pond Island National Wildlife Refuge. The population of Phippsburg is estimated to be around 2,300 of whom over 21% were age 65 or older. Last year, Phippsburg ranked #1 of 30 of the “Safest Places to Live in Maine,” #10 out of 60 of the “Best Places to Retire in Maine,” and #1 of 16 of the “Safest Suburbs in Maine;”
- Falmouth Foreside, Maine – located in Cumberland County, Maine. It is part of the Portland-South Portland-Biddeford, Maine metropolitan statistical area. The population is approximately 2,200 of which around 27% are 65 years of age or older. Last year, Falmouth Foreside ranked #3 out of 62 of “Healthiest Places to Live in Maine,” #5 of 45 of the “Best Suburbs to Live in Maine,” #10 of 45 of the “Best Suburbs to Buy a House in Maine,” and #7 out of 60 of the “Best Places to Retire in Maine;”
- Caribou, Maine – located in Aroostook County, Maine. There is a lot of history associated with the town of Caribou as well as historic buildings. The Caribou Public Library was built in 1911-1912 with a grant from Andrew Carnegie. The population of Caribou is estimated to be 8,000, of whom around 19% are age 65 or older. Last year, Caribou ranked #12 of 30 of the “Safest Places to Live in Maine,” #13 out of 60 of the “Best Places to Retire in Maine,” and #9 of 62 of the “Most Diverse Places to Live in Maine;”
- Bath, Maine – located in Sagadahoc, Maine. This town is popular with tourists, mainly due to its 19th century architecture. It is the home of the Heritage Days Festival, held on the 4th of July weekend annually and is often referred to as “The City of Ships.” The population of Bath has been decreasing since 2000, but it is estimated that there are 8,500 people living in Bath. Of those 8,500 people, approximately 16% are 65 years of age or older. Last year, Bath ranked #14 out of 60 of the “Best Places to Retire in Maine,” #8 out of 16 of the “Safest Suburbs in Maine,” and #18 out of 45 of the “Best Suburbs to Live in Maine;” and
- Auburn, Maine – located in, and the county seat of Androscoggin County, Maine. Auburn is the twin city of Lewiston and part of the Lewiston-Auburn, Maine metropolitan statistical area. The population is approximately 23,000 with around 15% being seniors age 65 or older. Last year, Auburn ranked #4 out of 45 of the “Most Diverse Suburbs in Maine,” and #17 of 60 of the “Best Places to Retire in Maine.”