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Best Assisted Living–11 Options For Seniors On A Budget

Everybody would prefer to take care of their elderly loved ones, but it sometimes becomes too overwhelming, especially if you have a job. If you have an independent older adult who can’t live alone because they need help with certain activities of daily living (ADLs), assisted living is the best option.

However, the high cost associated with assisted living facilities can make it challenging. Below is a guide to finding the best low-income facility and care.

Is There Such Thing as Low-Income Assisted Living?

Assisted living is a safe choice that is not always available to everybody because of the cost. If you are looking for low-income assisted living for a loved one, there are a few ways to get it.

There are many financial resources and options that will help you pay for room and board. You can also get help paying for a caretaker to come to your home instead of applying for a long-term facility.

Some of these subsidies come from the government, but you can find other non-governmental and non-profit organizations with similar benefits.

Assisted Living Level Of Care

Assisted living comes with different levels of care depending on the patient’s condition.

Level one, also known as low-level care, is for patients who are mostly independent but might require reminders to conduct some activities of daily living. These patients might need minimal supervision to ensure the activities are done safely and correctly.

Level two, also called moderate or intermediate care, is for those who are independent with some ADLs, like eating, but might need help with others. Level three, or high care level, is for people with impairments that might affect several ADLs and require a lot of supervision and help.

Assisted living communities and facilities enable elderly adults to live as independently as possible while receiving the urgent care needed. Before getting admitted, however, the elderly adult must meet all the qualifications.

What Qualifies You For Assisted Living?

Many of the people in assisted living are usually 85 years and above. Different facilities and communities might have different minimum or maximum age requirements.

The elderly adult should be fully mobile independently or with aids like a cane, wheelchair, or walker. They should be able to live in a one-bedroom or studio apartment alone, only needing help with tasks like eating, bathing, dressing, or using the bathroom.

The adult should also be stable and predictable without unpredictable health conditions. If the adult has a condition like diabetes or arthritis, they should prove they can manage it independently.

It is also a good option for adults unable to pay their bills or manage money, suffering from loneliness or depression, or those with high chances of falling.

Communities and facilities do not take bedridden patients, those with severe memory loss, or those with extensive medical needs like serious infections, feeding tubes, or tracheostomies.

How to Find Low-Income Assisted Living

With the numerous assisted living facilities available, searching for the best one to fit your budget can be challenging. One of the most effective methods to find a good one is to ask about it from your city government, local senior center, or the local area agency on aging.

The HUD website is another reliable place to get a list of all the good low-income facilities. Eldercare Locator is another site with useful information about some of the best housing options for elderly adults.

You can also search on your assisted living directory, ask for recommendations from your healthcare provider, or ask for referrals from friends or other family members. You should determine whether the cost of the facility is a one-time fee that includes amenities and food or whether you will make the payments differently.

While cost is an essential thing to consider, the following are other things to consider to ensure that your loved ones have a comfortable and safe stay at the facility.

  • Certifications- Ensure that the facility or community has all the permits and licenses to operate.
  • Care offerings- Ensure the facility offers at least three healthy meals daily, has social activities, has on-site staff for 24-hour supervision, and helps with housekeeping and medications. You should also check the emergency care policies and whether the facility is associated with a reputable medical facility.
  • Personnel qualifications- Inquire about what kind of education and qualifications the employees have and from which institutions they got them. It would help if you also considered other employees’ characteristics like communication, patience, and relationship with other patients.
  • Facilities- The space your loved one lives in should be clean and comfortable. Most facilities have spacious private rooms, living areas, kitchenettes, and bathrooms. Ensure you look at the conditions of the items and also ask about the cable, telephone, and internet connection availability.
  • Activities and amenities- Even when living in a facility, it is essential for elderly adults to engage in physical exercises and other activities. Consider amenities like game rooms, fitness rooms, salon services, swimming pools, and pet-friendly spaces.

In many assisted living communities and facilities, you don’t have to pay directly from your personal bank account. Here are a few ways to pay for your loved one’s needs.

Private Pay

This is money from a private fund like a retirement plan, personal savings, or money made from selling a business or home.

Long-term Care Insurance

Also known as LTCI, long-term care insurance covers long-term care needs, services, and support. It includes personal and custodial care wherever and whenever the holder chooses to get it, whether at home, assisted living, a community organization, or a nursing facility.

The type of LTCI taken will determine the premiums paid and how much the insurance covers. Insurance companies calculate the costs and coverage depending on age, gender, health conditions, and benefit period.

Some insurance companies require that the patient undergoes a physical evaluation from their chosen physician before granting the insurance.

Veterans Benefits

People who have been in the military or with spouses who have served, especially those who got injured while on duty, might qualify for veterans benefits. While the benefits don’t pay for everything, the Aid and Attendance benefits help to reduce the cost significantly. These are need-based payments made monthly above the veteran pension.

To qualify for the Aid and Attendance benefits, the patient must need assistance with daily tasks like eating, dressing, and showering. The Veteran Aid states that Aid and Assistance can help pay up to $2,230 monthly for veterans or their spouses.

One of the disadvantages is that you can’t receive Housebound benefits simultaneously. Housebound benefits are for patients who can’t leave their homes.

Eligibility differs from state to state, so contact the local VA benefits office before applying.

Social Security Benefits

While social security does not directly pay for assisted living, it will help the patient and their family. The money received can be used to pay for other expenses, reducing the financial burden. People receive social security benefits because of age or disability.


This is government-funded health insurance for people over 65 years. While it might not pay directly for boarding and rooms or personal care in assisted living facilities, it can help pay for some health care costs the employees provide.

Are There Any State Funded Assisted Living Programs?

In addition to the different methods of reducing costs for nursing home, the government has put together a few programs to make it easier for more people.

Section 202 Program

The HUD Section 202 program helps elderly adults live in subsidized housing in assisted living and independent environments. It is available for people over 62 years who are low-income.

Most of the properties in this program are owned by non-profit organizations. The program generally pays for up to 70% of the costs, while up to 30% of the patient’s net income goes towards rent.

Home and Community Based Services (HCBS)

HCBS are Medicaid programs that offer various human and health services and are mostly designed to help people receive care from their homes.

Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly

PACE program offers low-income elderly adults with health care professionals who meet their needs at home. This way, they don’t have to apply to long-term assisted living or care facilities.

Adult Day Health Care Program

This program allows elderly adults to participate in planned activities and programs in a professional care environment. They are a good place for isolated and lonely elder adults to socialize and enjoy while receiving required supervision and assistance.

The majority of the states also have non-Medicaid programs that might differ in benefits and requirements. Some states provide money directly to the beneficiaries to use however they prefer. Other states have more specific benefits like subsidized services and running their assisted living communities.

Affordable Housing Programs for Seniors

Below are two options available in the way of affordable housing programs for senior.

Low-Income Housing Tax Credit

LIHTC is a federally-funded program that ensures there are adequate low-income housing solutions. The building owners determine how many units will be for low-income senior residents.

Housing Choice Voucher Program

Mostly referred to as Section 8, this housing program allows low-income residents to get safe and reasonable accommodations or apartments. Landlords usually accept 30% of the resident’s income as rent.

To qualify, the resident must have an income below 50% of the local area’s median.