Seniors who appreciate cultural diversity, opportunities for outdoor recreation throughout four distinct seasons and access to affordable, quality health care may find that Minnesota is the perfect place to retire. Currently, adults aged 65 and older make up 15.9% of the state’s population of approximately 5.6 million people. According to projections from the Minnesota State Demographic Center, the Land of 10,000 Lakes is expected to experience rapid growth in this segment of the population in the near future, with an increase of over half a million seniors by 2035.
Current data from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that about 70% of Americans aged 65 and older require long-term services and supports. When comparing assisted living costs against the national median of $4,051, Minnesota’s average of $3,800 per month can make the state an even more attractive option for seniors seeking this type of long-term care.
This guide provides cost data for assisted living across Minnesota, comparisons with the cost of other senior care options and a look at what seniors pay for this type of care in surrounding states. It also offers information about available financial assistance, free and low-cost resources and state rules and regulations for assisted living.
The SeniorScore is a livability index that uses more than 100 variables to assess an area’s general quality of life, recreation and leisure opportunities, health and safety amenities and economic factors, as they relate to older adults. Minnesota received a score of 72, which puts it right on par with the national average.
Minnesota received its highest score of 67 for Health & Safety, thanks to ease of access to Medicare-registered health care providers and the numerous senior living facilities and home health care providers within the state. Additionally, life expectancy for Minnesotans exceeds the national average by 2.5 years. Metrics that negatively affect this score are the state’s average number of hospitals and higher-than-average crime rates.
The plentiful statewide recreation and leisure opportunities account for the score of 64 earned in this category. Minnesota has a high number of municipal parks for seniors to enjoy, as well as 467 golf courses. The 1,947 churches in the state offer a wide range of choices for those who wish to practice their faith. Minnesota also garnered a 64 for its general quality of life, due in part to its average high and low temperatures and rainfall. The state’s population density is just 487 people per square mile, and it ranked highly for high school safety and graduation rates.
Various economic factors influence Minnesota’s lowest score of 61 for finances. Property, income and sales tax rates are higher than the nationwide averages, but household and per capita income levels are as well. Other metrics that benefit seniors are the state’s lower annual costs for assisted living and relatively affordable health care compared to U.S. averages.
At $3,800 per month, the average cost for assisted living in Minnesota is $251 lower than the national median of $4,051. The average costs in surrounding states vary in comparison, with some being higher and others lower. The Iowa average of $4,078 is $278 higher, while Wisconsin’s average monthly rate of $4,350 is $550 more expensive. Seniors in South Dakota pay $3,500 per month, which is $300 less, and those in North Dakota pay just $3,405, for a savings of $395 compared to their peers in Minnesota.
The Cost of Assisted Living in Minnesota’s Top Cities
Assisted living costs in Minnesota vary considerably depending upon location. Costs are highest in the state’s largest metropolitan area, Minneapolis, where the average is $4,782 per month. Residents of other cities pay significantly less. The average cost in Duluth is $3,800, which is on par with the statewide median. Average assisted living rates in St. Cloud and Mankato are even lower and differ by just $107 per month, at $3,551 and $3,444, respectively. Seniors in Rochester pay an average rate of only $2,983 per month, which is the lowest cost among the state’s most populous cities.
Senior Care Cost Comparison in Minnesota
Senior care costs in Minnesota span a wide range depending on the level of care required and the setting. At an average cost of $3,800 per month, assisted living is one of the most affordable types of care available. Only adult day care costs less, with an average of just $1,820 per month. Costs for in-home care and home health care services are significantly higher, averaging $5,529 and $5,815 per month, respectively. With a median monthly cost of $10,076, skilled nursing home care is almost three times more expensive than assisted living, although both are offered in a residential setting.
Phone Number: (800) 333-2433
Minnesota Medicaid offers the Elderly Waiver, which can help eligible seniors pay for assisted living services as an alternative to nursing home admission. Depending on an individual’s specific care needs, the program may cover the cost of case management, transition expenses, personal care assistance, occasional skilled nursing services, nonmedical transportation and medical equipment and supplies. The waiver does not cover room and board fees. This is not a Medicaid entitlement program, so participation is capped and there may be a waiting list to receive services.
To qualify, applicants must be aged 65 or older, or disabled if younger, meet the Medicaid program’s financial eligibility requirements and be assessed as requiring a nursing home level of care.
Phone Number: (651) 431-4300
The Minnesota Department of Human Services Disability Services Division administers the CADI Waiver program, which is designed to provide eligible disabled individuals with an alternative to moving to a nursing facility. Program enrollees can receive assistance accessing housing in a community setting, such as an assisted living facility, as well as a range of other benefits, including case management, overnight supervision, therapy services, enhanced personal care and necessary equipment and supplies.
To qualify for the CADI Waiver, applicants must be certified as disabled and need the level of care normally provided in a nursing home. They must also meet the financial guidelines for Medicaid coverage and be aged 64 or younger when applying. Enrollees may remain in the CADI program after their 65th birthday or choose to transition to the Elderly waiver program.
Phone Number: (651) 431-2000
The Minnesota Department of Human Services administers the Supplemental Aid program that provides eligible low-income residents with a monthly cash benefit that may help defray the cost of assisted living services.
Individuals receiving Supplemental Security Income benefits automatically qualify for the program. Those who cannot qualify for SSI due to excess income may still be eligible for SA benefits if they are aged 65 or older, are blind, deemed disabled by the SSA or have no more than $10,000 in assets.
Phone Number: (651) 431-2000
The Housing Support program administered by the Department of Human Services offers funding to pay room and board fees in a licensed housing establishment, so low-income residents can avoid homelessness or admission to a nursing home. The program also offers supplemental benefits that may help cover the cost of additional services provided in an assisted living facility.
Disabled adults and seniors aged 65 and older can qualify for the HS benefit if they are receiving or eligible to receive SSI or Minnesota General Assistance and have $10,000 or less in assets. Those who are over the income limit for the SSI and GA programs can still qualify if their earnings are below the current HS room and board benefit payment.
At the present time, assisted living facilities are not licensed as such in Minnesota. Until a new assisted living licensing law takes effect in 2021, the state requires that facilities register as housing with services establishments and obtain a Class A or F home care agency license through the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). Alternatively, establishments may contract with a licensed home care agency to provide care services to residents. To ensure compliance with state regulations, MDH staff conduct routine surveys of all establishments, as well as unscheduled inspections in response to complaints. The following table offers an overview of the current state guidelines for AL facilities that meet the above requirements.
Scope of Care
To advertise as an assisted living facility, housing with services establishments must make available or provide residents with health-related services by a Class A or F home care agency, including medication management, assistance with three or more activities of daily living and regular RN assessments. The establishment must also provide additional services, including two prepared meals per day, weekly housekeeping and laundry services, transportation assistance and periodic social activities.
Care Plan Requirements
Housing with services establishments must arrange an RN assessment of each prospective resident’s cognitive and physical needs and create a care plan or service agreement for the individual before they move in or sign a contract with the facility.
Medication Management Requirements
Facilities must arrange assistance with medication self-administration or the administration of medications, depending on a resident’s needs. An RN must provide written instructions for medication being administered, and staff administering medications must demonstrate their competence in following these instructions.
Staff Screening Requirements
Owners, employees and volunteers of housing with services establishments must pass a criminal background check. Those who work directly with residents must provide a signed statement disclosing any criminal convictions, excluding traffic violations.
Staff Training Requirements
Facility administrators and managers must complete 30 hours of relevant continuing education every two years. Supervisors must complete four hours of training on state-mandated topics during their first 160 working hours after being hired, and another two hours every 12 months. Staff who work directly with residents must complete an initial orientation covering required home care topics. Those who perform delegated nursing care are required to complete prescribed core training and pass competency evaluations. All unlicensed personnel must complete eight hours of continuing training on home care topics every 12 months.
Minnesota Medicaid covers care and support services received in assisted living facilities through its Elderly and CADI waiver programs. Room and board fees are not paid for by these programs, and these costs are the responsibility of the resident.
Suspected neglect, abuse or mistreatment of an assisted living resident can be reported 24/7 by calling the Minnesota Adult Abuse Reporting Center toll free at (844) 880-1574.
A free service available to elderly Minnesotans and their families, the Senior LinkAge Line is manned by trained specialists who can connect seniors to aging-related resources. Callers can receive counseling about their long-term care options, including assisted living, as well as information about financial assistance programs that may help pay for their care.
Staff and volunteers of Minnesota’s Office of Ombudsman for Long-Term Care act as advocates for all senior Minnesotans to help resolve concerns with assisted living facilities and other care providers. The goal of each ombudsman advocate is to protect residents’ rights and ensure their well-being and safety.
Healthy aging classes are offered in communities across the state to help seniors improve their balance to prevent falls, manage chronic conditions, such as diabetes and arthritis, and achieve a healthier lifestyle overall. Classes are free of charge and available to all Minnesotans aged 60 and over.
Minnesota Board on Aging
Address: 540 Cedar Street, St. Paul, MN 55164
Phone Number: (651) 431-2500
The Minnesota Board on Aging exists to ensure that older adults throughout the state have access to needed resources to maintain their independence and quality of life. The MBA directs state and federal funding and grants to local organizations, such as Minnesota’s Area Agencies on Aging, that can help seniors access assisted living services. The board also works to enhance public awareness and research for aging-related issues.
Area Agencies on Aging in Minnesota
Area Agencies on Aging are nonprofit organizations established by the state government of Minnesota to provide residents with information and access to local aging-related resources. There are seven AAAs located across the state, and each one is dedicated to assisting adults aged 60 and older and their families in its specific geographic region. One of the many services AAAs offer is long-term care counseling to help seniors learn about the available options, such as assisted living.
Veteran Affairs Offices in Minnesota
The Department of Veterans Affairs offers pension and benefit programs that may help Minnesota senior veterans and their surviving spouses pay for assisted living services. Staff at the St. Paul Regional Benefits office can provide information about available programs, as well as assistance with the application process for those who are eligible to receive benefits.
Social Security Offices in Minnesota
Social Security retirement benefits and the Social Security Administration’s Supplemental Security Income program offer valuable funding sources for eligible seniors, which can help cover some of the costs of assisted living. Seniors can apply for benefits at one of the Social Security offices located throughout Minnesota.