While assisted living facilities (ALFs) may be slightly more expensive than neighboring states, Delaware is actually easier on the wallet than other areas. Seniors in Delaware qualify for to up to $12,500 state income tax exclusions from retirement income and an additional $2,500 exclusion for those over age 65. There is no sales tax and there is less gas tax than other states. As well as the financial perks, Delaware is home to scenic beaches and peaceful parks, close to many historical landmarks, and a thriving jazz hub.

Paying For Assisted Living in Delaware

The Cost of Assisted Living in Delaware

The monthly median cost of assisted living in Delaware is $5,350, which is considerably higher than the national average of $4,000. According to Genworth’s 2018 Cost of Care Survey, assisted living in Delaware is more expensive than neighboring states such as Maryland, whose median ALF monthly cost is $4,673 and New York, where assisted living care costs a median of only $4,185 monthly.


The costs of care in the state illustrate that the biggest factor impacting costs is the level of care that a person needs – assisted living is more than double the cost of independent living, and nursing home care is almost double the cost of assisted living. Also of note, in-home care is about $1,000 less than assisted living, but it may be more expensive when the cost of room and board is taken into consideration.

Financial Assistance for Assisted Living in Delaware

Diamond State Health Plan Plus (DSHPP)

Delaware has a growing population of elderly residents. As a result, they have expanded their Medicaid long-term care (LTC) programs to cover residential assisted living, community- and home-based care services. All programs to provide LTC have been absorbed by the managed care organization DSHPP, making aging care services in Delaware easier to access.

Who Is Eligible?

To qualify for Medicaid, one must be in need of skilled nursing care, low income, and have no alternative health insurance. Financially, applicants cannot receive more than 250% of the Social Security Income standard, in 2018 that amount is $1,875. The non-applicant’s income may be higher as there are spousal protections in place for eligibility purposes.

How To Apply?

Request a Medicaid application by email or you can call the Delaware Aging & Disability Resource Center (ADRC) at 1-800-223-9074 or visit their website to find an office near you.

More Ways to Finance Assisted Living

Some additional ways to finance assisted living costs include:

  • Veterans Benefits: Veterans can take advantage of several different pension programs to help cover the cost of assisted living. For more information, see the article on benefits.va.gov.
  • Life Insurance Policies: Even if a spouse or loved one hasn’t died, certain types of life insurance policies can be used to pay for assisted living. More information is available at longtermcare.acl.gov.
  • Long-Term Care Insurance: Long-term care insurance is a type of insurance policy that pays for long-term care when it becomes necessary, including the cost of assisted living. For more information on the benefits and drawbacks of this financing method, visit longtermcare.acl.gov.
  • Reverse Mortgages: Reverse mortgages allow seniors to access the equity from a home that they own, and these funds can be used to pay for assisted living. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development offers a federally insured reverse mortgage program.

Free Assisted Living Resources in Delaware

Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program (LTCO)

Delaware maintains two offices for the LTCO program. The ombudsman is responsible for receiving complaints and ensuring a high quality of life for those living in long-term care facilities in Delaware. They are responsible for providing training to communities, health care providers, and residents of assisted living facilities, among other responsibilities such as:

  • Investigating resident and family complaints made to the LTCO office regarding abuse of patients in assisted living
  • Assisting families in advocacy and enforcing state and local regulations
  • Implementing background check regulations for employees of long-term care facilities and advisement of negative results
  • Management of the Adult Abuse Registry & Certified Nursing Assistant Registry

To file a complaint in New Castle County, call (302) 577-6661. For Kent and Sussex County, call (302) 424-8600. You can e-mail the statewide center or call (800) 223-9074 for general questions or to register a problem.

Senior Centers

Programs like Meals On Wheels are federally and community funded. There are many senior centers in Delaware that offer home delivery of hot meals to homebound seniors as well as many other programs that are state and country-wide.

Check out this list of community centers in Delaware that provide activities for socialization, exercise and participate in Meals On Wheels. Call to enroll for home-delivered meals or to find your nearest dining room to eat with neighbors.

Senior CenterCountyPhone Number

First State Senior Center

Kent County

(302) 422-1510

Frederica Senior Center

Kent County

(302)335-4555

Harrington Senior Center

Kent County

(302) 398-4224

Harvest Years Senior Center

Kent County

(302) 698-4286

Lillian Smith Senior Center

Kent County

(302) 653-6119

Milford Senior Center

Kent County

(302) 422-3385

Modern Maturity Center

Kent County

(302) 734-1200

Smyrna Adult Day Services

Kent/New Castle Counties

(302) 653-3514

City Fare

New Castle County

(302) 421-3734

New Castle Senior Center

New Castle County

(302) 326-4209

Elwyn Senior Reflections

New Castle County

(302)-658-8860

Christiana Evergreen Day Care Center

New Castle County

(302)327-5200

MOT Jean Birch Senior Center

New Castle County

(302) 378-4758

Bridgeville Senior Center

Sussex County

(302) 337-8771

CHEERS

Sussex County

(302) 856-5187

Cape Henlopen Senior Center

Sussex County

(302) 227-2055

Indian River Senior Center

Sussex County

(302) 934-8839

Laurel Senior Center

Sussex County

(302) 875-2536

Lewes-Rehoboth

Sussex County

(302) 645-7449

Long Neck Cheer Center

Sussex County

(302) 945-3551

Milford Senior Center

Sussex County

(302) 422-3385

Roxana Cheer Senior Center

Sussex County

(302) 732-3662

Easter Seals

Easter Seals serves disabled adults and their caregivers. They offer respite, in-home care and adult day care centers. They have several offices in Delaware: Dover, Newark, and Georgetown. Visit their website for enrollment information. This program is run by donations from the community and provides referrals to other non-profit organizations.

Lions Club

The Lions Club serves the elderly and disabled across America and internationally. Funds for this program are earned through charity outreach events and public and private donations. Services provided to the needy elderly include medical equipment assistance. Visit the Lions Club website or call them at (302) 738-4724 if you need help paying for glasses or hearing aids.

Delaware Aging and Disability Resources

Delaware’s main department for elderly services is the Aging and Disability Resource Center. They provide guidance and assistance in many issues facing Delaware seniors and caregivers and referrals for services such as healthcare, hearing aids, financial planning, and advocacy.

Area Agency on AgingAddressPhone Number

Alzheimer’s Association Of Delaware

240 N James St, Newport DE 19804

(800) 272-3900

AARP Delaware

1100 N Market St, Wilmington DE 19801

(866) 227-7441 or

(302) 571-1984

ARC of Delaware

Loockerman & Federal Sts

Wesley Educational Building

Dover, DE 19901

(302) 736-6140 or

(302) 996-9400

Bayada Home Health Care Agency

655 S. Bay Road, Suite 1G, Dover, DE 19901

(302) 736-1276

Catholic Charities

2601 W 4th Street

Wilmington, DE 19805

(302)655-9624

Delaware Aging Network (DAN) Modern Maturity

1121 Forrest Ave

Dover, DE 19904

(302) 734-1200

Delaware Aging Network (DAN) CHEERS

20520 Sand Hill Rd

Georgetown, DE 19947

(302) 854-9500 or

(302) 856-5187

Delaware Aging Network (DAN) Jewish Family Services

99 Passmore Rd

Wilmington, DE 19803

(302) 478-9411

Delaware Division For The Visually Impaired-DVI

1901 N Dupont Hwy, Biggs Bldg Door 3

New Castle, DE 19720

(302) 255-9800 or

(302) 424-7240

Delaware Office Of Deaf And Hard Of Hearing

4425 N Market St

Wilmington, DE 19809

(302) 504-4741 or

(302) 761-8275

Delaware End of Life Coalition

Centered in Dover, DE

(302) 397-4408

Delaware Healthcare Facilities Association

726 Loveville Road,

Suite 3000

Hockessin, DE 19707

(302) 235-6895

Division Of Medicaid And Medical Assistance-DMMA

1901 N Dupont Hwy

Lewis Bldg Herman Holloway Sr Campus

New Castle, DE 19720

(866) 940-8963

Division Of Services Aging & Adults With Physical Disabilities

18 N Walnut St

Milford State Service Ctr

Milford, DE 19963

(800) 223-9074

Freedom Center For Independent Living

400 N Broad St., Middleton DE 19709

(844) 277-0700 or

(302) 376-4399

Hispanic Senior Advocacy/Outreach LACC

Latin American Community Ctr

403 N Van Buren St

Wilmington, DE 19805

(302) 655-7338 or

(302) 655-7341

Hearing Loss Association Of America-Delaware Chapters

3204 Powhatan Dr, Wilmington DE 19808

(302) 292-3066

Independent Resources Inc

6 Denny Rd Two Fox Point Centre Ste 101

Wilmington, DE 19809

(302) 765-0191 or

(302) 765-0194

Independent Resources Inc

154 S. Governors Ave., Dover DE 19904

(302) 735-4599

Independent Resources Inc

1609-A Middleford Rd, Seaford, DE 19973

(302) 536-1387

SCAT – Senior Citizens Affordable Taxi

119 Lower Beech Street, Suite 100

Wilmington, Delaware 19805-4440

(800)-652-3278

Veterans Affairs

As in most states, Delaware has VA centers to help veterans and their spouses with financing options for various services such as primary care, home loan programs, mental health, and dental health care services. These offices provide eligibility guidance for veterans and their families.

To enroll in Veterans health care, apply online. Below is a list of the VA offices in Delaware.

VA OfficeAddressPhone Number

Delaware Commission Of Veterans Affairs

802 Silver Lake Blvd, Suite 100

Dover, DE 19904

(800) 344-9900 or

(302) 739-2792

Kent County Community Based Outpatient Clinic

1198 S. Governors Avenue, Suite 201

Dover, DE 19901

(800) 461-8262 X 2400

Sussex County Community Based Outpatient Center

21748 Roth Ave

Georgetown, DE 19947

(800) 461-8262 X 2300

Wilmington Regional Benefits Office

1601 Kirkwood Highway

Wilmington, DE 19805

Monday-Friday, 8:30am-4pm

1-855-574-7286

Social Security Offices

The Social Security Administration in Delaware serves as a hub of resources for seniors and those living with disabilities. Contact them for advocacy and assistance in medical care, financial assistance, and planning for retirement. See the contact information for Social Security offices in Delaware below.

Social Security OfficeAddressPhone Number

New Castle

920 West Basin Rd #200, New Castle DE 19720

(800) 772-1213

Dover

500 W Loockerman Street Suite 100, Dover, DE 19904

(800) 772-1213

Lewes

12001 Old Vine Blvd #101, Lewes, DE 19958

(800) 772-1213

Assisted Living Laws and Regulations in Delaware

Assisted Living Facilities (ALFs) in Delaware are bound by strict codes of conduct and policies to protect the residents. The Division of Long Term Care Residents Protection (DLTCRP) handles abuse claims, as well as licensing and certification for Medicaid-enrolled assisted living facilities. To request a copy of a facility’s survey report, which includes all complaint information as well as the results of the most recent annual survey, contact the DLTCRP’s office in Wilmington, New Castle County at (302) 557-6661.

Assisted Living Service Planning

Residents must complete a written services agreement with the assisted living facility, no later than the day of admission. If the patient requests services from any outside party, including family members, those must also be included in the service contract. Services include transportation, laundry, activities, financial planning, and furnishings. The service planning contract outlines:

  • What services will be provided
  • Who will be providing the services
  • How services will be provided
  • When services will be provided
  • The expected outcome of services

A negotiated risk contract is a service plan that emphasizes independence and autonomy. The facility and the resident add a signed document that details mutually agreed upon actions that balance a resident’s need for autonomy and the facilities need for liability protection in case of accidents. Only residents who are deemed capable of making choices and have no dementia diagnosis are able to enter into a managed risk contract.

Assisted Living Admission Requirements

An assisted living facility provides housing, supervision and personalized assistance to its residents that need help with activities of daily living, or ADLs. While there is a 90-day exemption available for existing residents, generally it is required for a resident to be capable of living independently of medical equipment such as breathing ventilators, wound machines, or a trachea machine that is needed for longer than 6 months. It is also expected residents not be bedridden for longer than 14 days or be carriers or any disease that would require more than contact isolation. A physical is to be completed within 14 days of admittance to an ALF.

Assisted Living Scope of Care

Assisted living facilities are not residences for those that are in need of constant medical care. These homes are for people that need assistance with ADLs, such as light housekeeping, shopping, and assistance with dressing or medication. The residents are able to live generally independently, though care services are provided and there is medical care staff available.

Assisted living facilities are required to define the services they provide patients in the initial agreement, created prior to initiating the ALF contract. Services might include meals, laundry, housekeeping, and recreational activities. When the service planning contract is created, the facility and the resident negotiate what services are provided, who is responsible for what processes and what the charges and service rates are. A price sheet must be provided before any ALF contract can be signed in the state of Delaware.

Assisted Living Medicaid Policy

In Delaware, new waivers are available in the Medicaid program to help senior citizens pay for assisted living. Eligible seniors can enroll in Medicaid to access the Diamond State Plus Health Plan for assisted living services and case management. Request a long-term care waiver by calling the Delaware ARDC toll free at 1-800-223-9074.

Assisted Living Facility Requirements

Assisted living communities provide apartment-style living accommodations to residents. In Delaware, no more than two occupants may occupy one room in an ALF. There must be one bathroom for every four residents, and it must be accessible from either the residents own unit or a common area. All residents must have access to a kitchen, sink, and refrigerator, whether in their own unit or a common area. All private areas such as bedrooms and bathrooms must have emergency intercoms available in case of falls or other emergencies.

Medication Management Regulations

When a resident is admitted into an assisted living facility, they must include their medical history and current medications in their service plan. A registered nurse will complete the medication plan and it will be evaluated 30 days after admission as well as quarterly.

Residents of assisted living facilities in Delaware must be able to administer their own medication, or the RN must administer the medication. Direct care staff, family members, and support persons chosen by the resident are able to assist the resident with medication by opening the container, handing the resident their medication and logging the date, time, name and amount of medications taken.

Staffing Requirements

There is not a required staff-to-patient ratio in Delaware, but there is a minimum staff requirement. All direct care staff must know each resident and be familiar with their personal service plans. A director is required for every assisted living facility, regardless of size. The director must remain on site for a minimum of 8 hours a week, though this number increases with the number of beds in the facility. The director manages the facility and staff, as well as upholds current laws and regulations within the facility.

Licensed facilities with 25 or more beds must maintain a full-time Nursing Home Administrator. Houses with less than 25 beds but more than 4 may employ a part-time administrator. Facilities must also employ a director of nursing who is registered as a nurse, for a minimum of 8 hours a week. ALFs with over 25 beds must employ the director of nursing full-time.

There must always be one staff member on site who is qualified to administer medication. For an aide to assist a resident self-administer medication, they must complete first aid, CPR, and the Delaware-created Assistance with Self-Administration of Medication program.

Staff Training Requirements

Orientation training is required for all direct care staff, permanent or temporary. Ongoing training is required as well. A minimum of 12 hours annual training is required for resident assistants in areas such as:

  • Fire safety
  • Emergency procedures
  • Assessments
  • Psychosocial needs
  • Health processes
  • Infection control
  • Basic food service
  • Resident rights
  • Reporting abuse

Background Checks for Assisted Living

All staff of assisted living facilities or any other licensed caregiver role must submit to a federal background check by the Delaware Bureau of Investigations. Any information discovered during such a check must be reported to the DHSS for review. Any abuse, neglect or mistreatment conviction in the past 15 years is a disqualification for employment in Delaware for care agencies and facilities. Facilities are also required to follow Delaware’s drug testing policy for all employees, which mandates testing for employees of any programs, care agencies, and care facilities.

Requirements for Reporting Abuse

Healthcare workers, caregivers, and indirect care staff are all required to report any suspected physical, emotional or financial abuse to the proper departments within their facility as well as to the state. The first point of entry for an abuse allegation occurring in long-term care facilities is the Office of Health Facilities Licensing and Certification. Call the 24-hour hotline to report abuse at 1-877-453-0012 or file a complaint online.

If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse, you can report the problem anonymously through the state of Delaware. To report elder abuse that occurs in the home or community to the state, contact the DHSS Division of Services for Aging and Adults with Physical Disabilities by at (800) 223-9074.