Idaho is known for its beautiful scenery and untouched natural landscape, which makes it an attractive retirement destination for many seniors. Idaho is also ranked higher in medical care than surrounding areas and has a lower cost of living than neighboring states like Oregon and Washington. The cost of assisted living is lower than the national average by over $500 a month and Idaho has many amenities for seniors, like community centers and 30 state parks.
Paying For Assisted Living in Idaho
The monthly median cost of assisted living in Idaho is $3,475, which is significantly cheaper than the national average of $4,000. According to Genworth’s 2018 Cost of Care Survey, assisted living in Idaho is also less expensive than the median in all of the neighboring states, except for Utah.
Average costs vary in different regions of the state, but most areas are close to the state average. The average monthly cost in the Lewiston is considerably more expensive than other areas, while Idaho Falls is the least expensive area.
The state median cost of assisted living is less expensive than most other types of long-term care except adult day health care. It’s considerably cheaper than nursing home care, in particular, and marginally less expensive than in-home care.
Financial Assistance for Assisted Living in Idaho
Medicaid Home & Community Based Services (HCBS) Waiver
While Medicaid in Idaho doesn’t directly cover the cost of assisted living, there is a waiver program that can assist in paying for care. The Home & Community Based Services (HCBS) Waiver helps to cover the cost of care, but it doesn’t pay for room and board.
Who Is Eligible?
To qualify for the HCBS waiver, a person must meet age, income, and special care requirements, including the following.
- Applications must be at least 65 or disabled.
- A single person cannot have income greater than $2,270 a month or assets greater than $2,000.
- A couple may not have more than $4.520 monthly income and $4,000 in countable resources.
- A person must require assistance with at least one activity of daily living (ADL) on a monthly basis.
How to Apply
To get more details about eligibility requirements and start an application, contact your nearest Idaho Department of Health and Welfare office.
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 Idaho
Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program
As in most states, Idaho maintains a Long-Term Care Ombudsman program. The Ombudsman investigates complaints made by residents 60 or older. Complaints are made regarding:
- Dietary issues
- Problems with Medicaid or other agencies
Area Agencies on Aging
Area Agencies on Aging (AAA) is a network of hundreds of nonprofit organizations across America that provide federally funded services to adults over 60 in their local areas.
|Area Agency on Aging||Address||Phone Number|
2120 N. Lakewood Dr. Suite B
Coeur d’Alene, ID 83814
1-208-667-3179 or 1-800-786-5536
Area II – North Central Idaho Area Agency on Aging
124 New 6th Street
Lewiston, ID 83501
1-208-743-5580 or 1-800-877-3206
Area III – Southwest Idaho Interim Area Agency on Aging
701 S. Allen Ste. 100
Meridian, ID 83642
1-844-689-7562 or 1-208-332-1745
315 Falls Ave
PO Box 1238
Twin Falls, ID 83303-1238
1-208-736-2122 or 1-800-574-8656
214 E. Center
P.O. Box 6079
Pocatello, ID 83205-6079
1-208-233-4032 or 1-800-526-8129
P.O. Box 51098
935 Lincoln Road
Idaho Falls, ID 83405
1-208-522-5391 or 1-800-632-4813
As in most states, Idaho has VA centers to help veterans and their spouses with financing options for various kinds of care. These offices can provide guidance on eligibility for various benefit programs, in addition to many other services.
|VA Center||Address||Phone Number|
Idaho Division of Veterans Services
351 N Collins Rd, Boise, ID 83702
VA Boise Regional Benefit Office
444 W Fort St, Boise, ID 83702
Bannock County Veterans Services
921 S 8th Ave, Pocatello, ID 83209
Department of Veterans Affairs
705 Lena St, Salmon, ID 83467
VA North Idaho Community Based Outpatient Clinic
915 Emma Ave, Coeur d’Alene, ID 83814
Jonathan M. Wainwright Memorial VA Medical Center
77 Wain Wright Dr, Walla Walla, WA 99362
VA Caldwell Clinic
4521 Thomas Jefferson St, Caldwell, ID 83605
Idaho Falls Outreach Clinic
3544 E 17th St, Ammon, ID 83406
Social Security Offices
Idaho’s Social Security Offices offer another great resource for seniors looking for financial and medical assistance. By contacting or visiting a Social Security office, you can get a better understanding of your or your loved one’s social security benefits, Medicare, and disability benefits, including what types of assistance may be available to help pay for assisted living. Reach the Social Security Administration by phone at 1-866-253-0489.
|Social Security Office||Address||Phone Number|
2196 Channing Way, Idaho Falls, ID 83404
1249 S Vinnell Way #101, Boise, ID 83709
1118 S Kimball Ave, Caldwell, ID 83605
7400 N Mineral Dr #100, Coeur d’Alene, ID 83815
1617 19th Ave, Lewiston, ID 83501
1437 Fillmore St, Twin Falls, ID 83301
861 Jefferson Ave, Pocatello, ID 83201
Idaho Senior Centers
Maintaining an active social and physical life is critical to healthy aging. Senior centers provide opportunities such as exercise classes, community meals, bingo and other games, art lessons, faith and singing clubs, and support groups. Meals on wheels programs are usually centered in the local senior center as well.
|Senior Center||Address||Phone Number|
535 W 21st St, Idaho Falls, ID 83402
1920 N Records Ave, Meridian, ID 83642
530 Shoshone St S, Twin Falls, ID 83301
1009 Everett St, Caldwell, ID 83605
312 E State St, Eagle, ID 83616
229 N Ave B, Kuna, ID 83634
1215 E 3rd Ave, Post Falls, ID 83854
520 N Lincoln Ave, Jerome, ID 83338
193 W Pine St, Shelley, ID 83274
20 E Pacific St, Blackfoot, ID 83221
9428 N Government Way, Hayden, ID 83835
427 N 6th Ave, Pocatello, ID 83201
1000 N 3rd E St, Mountain Home, ID 83647
40 S 2nd W, Rexburg, ID 83440
820 Main St, Sandpoint, ID 83864
115 Base Line Rd, Melba, ID 83641
261 S Middlefork Rd, Garden Valley, ID 83622
701 1st St, McCall, ID 83638
Assisted Living Laws and Regulations in Idaho
Definition of Assisted Living
In Idaho, assisted living facilities are also referred to as “residential assisted living facilities” or RALFs. RALFs serve the same functions as assisted living facilities in other states, offering help with the activities of daily living (ADLs) such as bathing, eating, and laundry.
Assisted Living Negotiated Service & Admissions Agreements
Prior to admission, a negotiated service agreement must be completed with every resident. Information in this agreement includes:
- Initial Uniform Assessment findings such as height, weight, and medications
- Levels of care needed in ADLs
- Frequency and scope of needed care
- Habitation and staff training needs, i.e. dementia care
- Identification of specific behavioral symptoms, triggers, and intervention methods
- Physicians’ and other providers’ signed and dated orders
- Management of resident’s funds and possessions
- Discharge and transfer plans
- Family and outside support identification
- Residents desires
- Other identified needs
Residents and facility staff and support will be involved in the creation of this plan. A review of this plan is required at least every 12 months.
In addition to the negotiated service agreement, residents must complete an admissions agreement the day before moving into the facility. A list of all services to be provided and the prices of those services are to be included in this agreement, as well as the resident’s responsibilities, advance directives, and restrictions on service providers.
Assisted Living Admission Requirements
Assisted living and residential care facilities in Idaho are unable to accept residents who are in need of 24-hour skilled nursing. Additionally, any person with unstable mental health issues that would negatively impact other residents, or residents with the potential to become violent may not be admitted.
Assisted Living Scope of Care
Assistance with ADLs such as dressing, light housekeeping, medication management, and travel arrangements are all services provided by assisted living facilities in Idaho. While some nursing services are available periodically, skilled nursing isn’t available 24/7.
Residential Assisted Living Facility Requirements
Residential assisted living facilities in Idaho may provide residences that are apartment-style or bedrooms which offer single- or double-occupancy, but each resident must have their own bed. Every unit needs to have walls from floor to ceiling, a door that locks with a key, a bathroom (one for every 6 residents minimum), a thermostat which the resident can adjust, and a kitchen area. Kitchens must include a sink, a cooking appliance, and counter space.
Medication Management Regulations
Residents must be able to self-administer all of their medications, including insulin injections, or an RN must be provided to administer their medications. Family and spouses are not allowed to assist with medications unless specified in the service plan.
An RN must be available to provide injections and medical services and can delegate medical services to a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or an unlicensed assistive personnel (UAP) if that RN is able to train and declare competency of the LPN or UAP. Assistance with medication certification takes a minimum of 8 hours of education in addition to the annual 16 hour-education requirement for care staff of assisted living facilities.
Each assisted living facility must have one administrator to schedule the direct care staff. There is no minimum staffing requirement, but there must always be at sufficient staff available to care for all residents. At all times, there is to be at least one CPR and First Aid certified direct care staff member.
In Idaho, it is required for an RN to be on-call 24/7 in an assisted living facility. In a facility with 15 or fewer beds, night staff may sleep through the night unless there is a resident with night needs or who cannot call for assistance. Larger facilities must have at least one direct care staff awake at all times. Multi-building facilities are required to have one skilled staff member available at all times.
Staff Training Requirements
All residential care providers are required to meet training requirements or demonstrate competency. Staff are required to undergo 16 hours of training before they can work unsupervised. Direct care staff need an additional 8 hours of education annually, and directors need 12 hours of annual training. Training topics include illness and disability symptoms, new resident adjustment, ADLs, promotion of independence, and stress reduction.
Background Checks for Assisted Living
Background checks and criminal history screens are mandatory for all residential facility staff, direct care, or service providers in Idaho. Drug screening is not mandatory but many facilities choose to test employees for drug use.
Requirements for Reporting Abuse
Assisted living and residential care facility administrators are required to be informed of and investigate any complaints within 30 days. Residents must be protected throughout the course of this investigation. The person reporting the abuse must receive a written report on the resolution of the complaint or reason why the complaint was not resolved within 30 days. In the event of an incident that is reportable to the licensing and survey agency, this report must be made within 24 hours.
If you or your loved one is suffering from abuse at the hands of residential care staff, call 1-800-677-1116. The ElderCare Locator will direct you to the local agency nearest you.