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Elderly who decide to make Iowa their home will find the state to be reasonably tax-friendly. Those with a social security income do not have to pay state taxes. Additionally, any public and private pension income are only partially taxed and prescription drugs are exempt from sales tax.

Directory of Assisted Living Facilities in Iowa

When beginning the hunt to locate a quality assisted living facility in Iowa, it’s essential to think about the services they provide and what programs are available to help pay for those care services. The registry below can aid you in your search by providing details and information on more than 150 facilities in the state of Iowa.

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Paying For Assisted Living in Iowa

Determining how to finance assisted living often starts with the question, “What’s the cost?” In today’s economy, where inflation plays a significant role, having current data is crucial for senior living financial planning. has gathered cost information from its expansive network of over 75,000 senior living providers. This data offers a glimpse into the average expenses for assisted living in Iowa and 25 additional cities within Iowa.

How Inflation Has Impacted the Cost of Assisted Living in Iowa

Assisted living costs in Iowa are currently affected by inflation. Prices have risen by about 2.5% in 2022-2023 and are projected to increase again in 2024 by another 3%. The national average, however, is seeing even greater jumps with 10% in 2022-2023 and another 8% in 2024.

Iowa’s nearest neighbors are seeing various changes in assisted living prices. Rates have dropped to $4,742 in Illinois and $4,217 in Missouri but have risen by 1% in Minnesota and 13% in Nebraska. Seniors, therefore, must consider all these factors as they plan for their current and future care and budgets.

Location 2022 Cost (Historical) 2023 Cost (Current) 2024 Cost (Estimated)
Iowa $4,770 $4,879 $5,006
U.S. Average $4,070 $4,459 $4,802
Minnesota $4,399 $4,433 $4,314
Illinois $4,959 $4,742 $5,313
Missouri $4,488 $4,217 $4,318
Nebraska $4,480 $5,043 $5,304

Assisted Living Costs in Iowa's Top Cities

Iowa’s cities show a broad range of assisted living costs, centering around a state average of $4,879. Iowa City is low on the cost spectrum at $2,100. Prices in Dubuque climb to $3,915. Additionally, Des Moines’ average cost stands at about $4,252, while Ames’ rates jump above average to $6,067. Location, cost of living and available resources all figure into these varying costs.

The Cost of Other Types of Senior Living

Seniors in Iowa have several senior living options based on their care needs. Independent living may be a good choice for people who don’t need much help but still want a community atmosphere. It runs about $2,483 per month. Assisted living provides more personal care and housekeeping at $4,879. Memory care offers specialized support and services for people with memory loss for a rate of $5,914.

Financial Assistance for Assisted Living in Iowa

Iowa Elderly Waiver Program

Medicaid does not cover assisted living in Iowa, however, they offer waiver programs, referred to as Home and Community Based Services (HCBS). Not all facilities in Iowa accept the waivers, so keep this in mind as you search for an assisted living facility for you or your elderly loved one.

The Elderly Waiver covers nursing and skilled levels of care based on a resident’s needs. An interdisciplinary team (IDT) consisting of the resident, case manager, Managed Care Organization, community-based case manager, service providers, and other persons the resident chooses will determine what services are appropriate. During this time, a service plan will be developed. Service plans may include attendant care from an assisted living provider or anyone else the resident chooses, nursing care, nutritional counseling, or other tasks.

Since this waiver isn’t an entitlement program, even if you do qualify, you may not be accepted if the enrollment cap is reached. Instead, you will likely be placed on a waiting list. If you are eligible and accepted into the program, there are also service cost limits:

  • Nursing level of care services cannot exceed $1,339 per month.
  • Skilled level of care services cannot exceed $2,765 per month.

Who Is Eligible?

Residents interested in applying for the Elderly Waiver need to qualify for Medicaid as well as meet certain income, asset limits, and functionality requirements. If you’re 65 years of age or older, the qualifications for Medicaid include:

  • You must need nursing or skilled level of care, which is determined annually by the Iowa Medicaid Enterprise and Medical Services Unit.
  • You must be a legal U.S. citizen (or a person with legal entry) who lives in Iowa.
  • The monthly income for a single resident must not exceed $2,250 (in 2018), and assets must be $2,000 or less.
  • The monthly income for married residents must not exceed $4,500 (in 2018), and assets must be $3,000 or less.

How to Apply

To get more details about eligibility requirements and to start an application, contact your local Department of Human Services (DHS) office. You may also call (800) 338-8366 or (515) 256-4606 (Des Moines Area) and let them know you’d like to apply for the Elderly Waiver.

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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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 and Low-Cost Resources for Seniors in Iowa

There are many resources in Iowa that assist seniors in their retirement. has compiled information on local organizations, programs and agencies and categorized them into care types for easy reference.


Senior Engagement

Senior engagement resources and programs in Iowa help older adults remain active and ensure they contribute to the community. Resources include wellness programs, volunteer opportunities, support groups and organizations that help residents connect with the community to live fulfilling lives.

Program Name Phone Number Description
Alzheimer’s Association Greater Iowa Chapter 515-440-2722 The Greater Iowa Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association provides localized support for seniors dealing with cognitive decline and families caring for those with dementia. Help comes in several forms, such as support groups facilitated by trained association members that enable seniors with Alzheimer’s to converse with others with the condition and for caregivers to build collective strength with other Waterloo residents caring for their loved ones. There are also care consultations, where counselors help seniors and their families develop road maps for care that prepare for a life with Alzheimer’s.

Free Used Medical Equipment

Due to the high cost of purchasing new medical equipment, several organizations in Iowa collect lightly used medical devices such as wheelchairs, ramps and walkers and distribute them to local seniors and residents in need.

Program Name Phone Number Description
Habitat for Humanity Quad Cities 563-349-7339 Habitat for Humanity Quad Cities sells donated medical equipment at affordable prices. All equipment is new or lightly used and inspected for safety.
Iowa Easterseals 866-866-8782 DME is loaned for a nominal charge and can be used for any length of time. The organization also manages the Iowa Assistive Technology Exchange Program. The website connects seniors with providers across Iowa who have equipment available for loan or sale.
Iowa Exceptional Persons, Inc. 319-232-6671 EPI offers free loans on a variety of used medical equipment to seniors. Equipment, such as crutches, walkers, bath chairs and commodes, can be borrowed for any length of time.


Senior Centers

Senior centers in Iowa bring together residents through recreational activities and events. Many also offer advice and support on senior issues, run wellness and nutrition programs, and connect older adults with other resources in the local area.

Program Name Phone Number Description
Iowa 211 An initiative of the United Way, 211 Iowa is an information and referral service that can help connect seniors and caregivers with resources in their communities. Individuals can call the organization to speak with trained experts who can provide information and help direct them to services that suit their individual needs and circumstances. The service is free, confidential and available 24/7.
Iowa Care Planning Council 800-989-8137 The Iowa Care Planning Council is organized by the National Care Planning Council, a nationwide nonprofit organization that provides comprehensive information on issues that affect older adults. Through this resource, seniors can find information on paying for memory care services, including taking out reverse mortgage loans, applying for veterans’ benefits and purchasing long-term care insurance. The council also has an updated list of memory care facilities in Iowa.


Area Agency on Aging

Retirees can find support and advice on various senior-related issues from their local Area Agency on Aging. The agency provides advice on topics such as financial assistance programs, in-home care and long-term care planning. It also connects seniors and caregivers with community-based resources.

Program Name Phone Number Description
Iowa Department on Aging 866-468-7887 Across Iowa, six Area Agencies on Aging provide supportive services for older adults to improve their overall quality of life. These agencies can connect seniors with local transportation services, nutritional programs, community support groups and other local aid. Additionally, low-income seniors can benefit from a variety of cost-saving programs, including home weatherization, heating and cooling bill support and help paying for medical care. AAAs also advocate for senior wellness by intervening in suspected cases of Medicare fraud or abuse.


Food Assistance Programs

Local organizations help ensure elderly citizens have a balanced diet and receive essential vitamins and minerals to remain healthy. Through nutrition programs, congregate meals, home-delivered meals and food pantries, these programs help Iowa seniors afford the nutritious food they need.

Program Name Phone Number Description
Iowa Department on Aging Meal Services 866-468-7887 The Iowa Department on Aging provides comprehensive meal services and nutrition resources for senior citizens in Iowa — focusing on health, well-being and socialization. Services include meal programs for those aged 60 or older, nutrition counseling with registered dietitians and nutritional education resources. It partners with local food establishments through The Iowa Cafe program to offer services more efficiently.
Iowa Meals on Wheels Iowa Meals on Wheels offers hot, home-delivered meals to seniors aged 60 and older and military veterans of all ages. Eligible seniors must have difficulty shopping or preparing food on their own. Volunteers deliver nutritious, ready-to-eat meals Monday through Friday, with three menu options available. Seniors who meet income eligibility guidelines qualify for free meals. Otherwise, meals are available for purchase.
Iowa Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) 800-972-2017 The Iowa Supplemental Nutrition Program offers food benefits for individuals who need additional funds to purchase food. Many seniors in the state qualify for SNAP, and they can apply online through the Health and Human Services website. Through SNAP, seniors can supplement their food budgets to add more healthy foods to their diets.


Financial Assistance for Senior Care and Senior Living

Whether living in their own home or in a senior living community, Iowa seniors can find financial assistance from numerous local resources. These organizations help residents cover some of the costs associated with in-home or long-term care and connect them with other helpful community-based resources.

Program Name Phone Number Description
Iowa Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Elderly Waiver 800-338-8366 Seniors requiring nursing home care and can safely remain in their own homes, or in an assisted living community, can apply for the Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Elderly Waiver. The level of financial assistance provided is decided on an individual basis. Beneficiaries take an annual assessment that determines the required coverage and level of services. Coverage may include assistance with paying the costs associated with assisted living, adult day care, home health aides, emergency response systems and home-delivered meals.


Tax Assistance

Seniors can apply for tax assistance from several Iowa resources. Elderly residents and those with disabilities could be eligible for tax exemptions on medical expenses, reductions on property tax and other tax assistance programs.

Program Name Phone Number Description
Iowa Homestead Tax Credit and Exemption 800-367-3388 Homeowners aged 65 and older who meet certain financial criteria can make a claim for tax relief under the state’s Homestead tax laws. Iowa seniors who live in rental properties could be entitled to rent reimbursement.


Cash Assistance Programs

Cash assistance programs in Iowa provide financial support to help low-income retirees remain in their own homes for as long as possible. Seniors and caregivers can apply for tax rebates and reductions, discounts on vital services and help covering the cost of heating and cooling their home.

Program Name Phone Number Description
Iowa Lifeline Program 800-234-9473 The LifeLine Program offers a discount on landline or mobile telephone service, ensuring that participants can stay in contact with loved ones.


Many organizations offer free or low-cost legal services to Iowa seniors. Older adults can access advice on issues such as estate planning, living wills and power of attorney. Some firms also act as long-term care ombudsmen, advocating for the rights of seniors in senior living communities.

Program Name Phone Number Description
Iowa Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program The Long-Term Care Ombudsman program protects seniors against abuse and neglect in assisted living and other care facilities. Seniors can reach out to request intervention if they suspect abuse. The ombudsman works with the senior and the facility to resolve the concern and ensure adequate care.
Iowa Office of the Public Guardian 515-725-3333 Iowa seniors who can’t make their own legal, financial or health care decisions may be assisted by a guardian through the Office of the Public Guardian. To qualify for these services, a senior must be unable to pay for a substitute decision-maker, and/or have no suitable relative or other responsible individual who can act on their behalf.
Iowa Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman 641-420-9850 The Long-Term Care Ombudsman is an advocate for the rights of seniors in residential care communities. Financed by the state, the ombudsman doesn’t charge for its services, which include investigating complaints about facilities by their residents, or their families, and third parties. The ombudsman pursues solutions with care providers on behalf of residents and doesn’t charge for any of its services. Additional services include providing copies of inspection reports to families comparing memory care communities for their loved ones.


Utility & Energy Bill Assistance

Low-income seniors who are struggling to meet the costs of maintaining their homes can find support from organizations that offer assistance with utility and energy bills. Iowa retirees could also qualify for emergency funding programs if they’re in danger of losing utility services due to unpaid invoices.

Program Name Phone Number Description
Iowa Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) 515-242-5655 The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) helps low-income seniors pay their home energy bills. This federally-funded program provides a one-off payment toward a resident’s residential heating utility.


Home Repair and Modifications

Seniors and those with disabilities can access a variety of local resources to help them pay for home repairs and modifications. Programs in Iowa have different eligibility criteria and often assist retirees by providing grants or loans.

Program Name Phone Number Description
Iowa Rural Development State Office 515-284-4663 The program provides grants of up to $10,000 which older adults can use to remove health and safety hazards from their property. Seniors can visit the U.S. Department of Agriculture website to check if their home is eligible for the program.


Social Security Offices

Social Security offices in Iowa help seniors and disabled people access the benefits they’re entitled to. Older adults can contact their local office for information about receiving retirement benefits, disability allowance and Supplemental Security Income.

Program Name Phone Number Description
Iowa Social Security Social Security is a source of income available to retirees and people who can no longer work because of a disability. The money for Social Security comes from a payroll tax levied on employers, employees and self-employed individuals. When you retire, you’ll receive monthly payments based on how much you earned when you were working.


Veteran’s Services

Iowa retirees who have served in the U.S. military can find support from local veteran services. These offices and organizations help vets access the benefits they’re eligible for and provide advice and information on a variety of issues.

Program Name Phone Number Description
Iowa VA Benefits and Health Care Iowa VA Benefits and Health Care helps ensure Iowa’s senior veterans receive the care and benefits they’ve earned. With services ranging from health care and pension programs to disability benefits and housing assistance, veterans’ needs are catered to accordingly. For veterans to be eligible for these programs, they need appropriate service records and Iowa residency requirements. To further show its commitment to Iowa’s senior veterans, the organization offers dignified burials.


Assisted Living Laws and Regulations in Iowa

Assisted Living Occupancy Agreement

When accepted into an assisted living facility, a written occupancy agreement is required. Make sure the agreement includes:

  • All of the facilities’ fees, charges, and rates for rent and services
  • The services the resident will receive and a description of those services
  • Any third party payments they will accept from the resident (e.g. Medicaid)
  • Their policy on what they do if the resident’s financial assistance runs out
  • How long the occupancy agreement is in effect and instructions on how it can be terminated
  • Procedures for involuntary transfer in regards to the resident’s health or for other reasons
  • How the resident can file an appeal or grievance if the need to do so arises
  • The assisted living facilities rules in regards to billing and payment, as well as their refund policy

The facility must give the resident or the resident’s legal representative a copy of the occupancy and all the documents and attachments. If changes are made in the agreement, the assisted living facility (ALF) is required to provide the resident or his or her representative with a written copy of the changes within 30 days before the changes, unless the following occurs:

  • The resident’s health or behavior causes him or her to become a health or safety threat to self or others.
  • An emergency or significant change in the resident’s condition results in the need for services not already in the resident’s occupancy agreement.
  • The assisted living facility is unable to provide the necessary services.

Assisted Living Admission Requirements

In order to determine if an assisted living facility in Iowa can provide the level of care you or your elderly loved one needs, he or she must receive an evaluation of their functional, cognitive, and health status.

If the resident is terminally ill, he or she is allowed to receive hospice services from a Medicaid-certified hospice program.

Assisted living facilities in Iowa are not allowed to admit a resident who:

  • Is in need of more than part-time or intermittent health-related services
  • Is bed-bound
  • Requires more than two people to assist with standing, transferring or evacuating
  • Regularly has uncontrollable incontinence
  • Is a danger to self or others
  • Has an acute stage of alcoholism, drug addiction, or uncontrolled mental illness
  • Is medically unstable or needs maximum assistance with activities of daily living

Assisted Living Scope of Care

Assisted living facilities must include the services they provide to each resident in the occupancy agreement. Services offered in Iowa include activities that support the resident’s service plan, health-related care, personal care, and assistance with instrumental activities of daily living (e.g. chores, cooking, housekeeping, shopping, and traveling in the community).

Assisted Living Medicaid Policy

As in most states, Iowa Medicaid covers the cost of nursing home care but not assisted living. They do, however, offer the Elderly Waiver, which helps Iowa seniors with the cost of home and support services provided by assisted living facilities who accept the waiver.

The Elderly Waiver does not cover the cost of room and board. Additionally, even if you or your loved one qualifies for the Elderly Waiver, receiving care is not guaranteed as there is also waiting list. As of November 2018, there are no applicants on the list, but that can change at any time.

Assisted Living Facility Requirements

The Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals certifies assisted living facilities in Iowa. They are also responsible for making sure the facilities follow all the rules and regulations. Some of the rules and regulations for Iowa facilities include:

  • There must always be at least one qualified employee at the facility and awake to assist and monitor residents.
  • Private units must have single-action locks on the entrance doors unless it endangers the resident’s health or safety.
  • Units are required to have bathrooms with a working toilet, sink, and other bathing facilities unless the assisted living facility houses dementia residents.

Medication Management Regulations

A resident can administer their own medication or request a qualified employee at the facility to give him or her the medicine. Only a registered nurse, licensed practical nurse, advanced registered nurse practitioner, or medication aide who has received instructions from a licensed professional nurse is allowed to administer medication to residents who need an assistance.

Staffing Requirements

Assisted living facilities in Iowa must always have at least one qualified employee at the facility. All employees must be awake to assist and monitor residents.

Staff Training Requirements

Licensed professional nurses are required to complete six or more hours of assisted living or nursing class related to Iowa assisted living rules and laws.

Anyone who works in an assisted living facility in Iowa that provides care to residents with dementia must have a minimum of eight hours of education and training related to dementia. In addition, the staff is required to continue receiving at least two hours of dementia-related education each year.

Contracted staff who do not have contact with residents are exempt from the dementia-related education and training requirement.

Background Checks for Assisted Living

Prior to employment, the assisted living facility is required to request a criminal history check by the Department of Public Safety and a child and dependent adult abuse record check by the Department of Human Services. If it’s determined that the applicant has a record, the decision to hire the applicant will be left up to the Department of Human Services.

Requirements for Reporting Abuse

If you suspect an assisted living facility or any of its employees abusing your elderly loved and/or not following the rules and regulations, or if you are the one being abused or neglected, contact the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals at (877) 686-0027 or Ombudsman at (866) 236-1430.

If you or your elderly loved one is being neglected or abused physically, sexually, or through exploitation by anyone, the Dependent Adult Protective Services (APS) handles these reports. You can contact APS toll-free, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at (800) 362-2178.

Iowa COVID-19 Rules for Assisted Living Facilities

Note: The following information was compiled and most recently updated on 2/8/22. Since COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving crisis, be sure to contact your assisted living facility or local Area Agency on Aging for the most up-to-date information.

COVID-19 Rules in Iowa
Are loved ones allowed to visit residents in their assisted living community? Yes (Conditions Apply)
Are residents required to quarantine after their loved ones visit? No
Are loved ones required to wear masks when visiting residents? Yes
Are Hairdressers and other non-medical contractors allowed in assisted living communities? Yes
Are visitors screened for elevated temperatures before entering the assisted living community? Yes
Are residents allowed to leave the assisted living community for non-medical reasons? Yes
Are residents who leave required to quarantine when they get back to the assisted living community? No (Conditions Apply)
Are assisted living communities required to cancel all group outings? No
Are assisted living communities allowed to host group activities within the community? Yes (Conditions Apply)
Are staff members regularly checked for elevated temperatures? Yes
Are staff members regularly tested for COVID-19? Yes (Conditions Apply)
Are residents regularly screened for COVID-19 symptoms? Yes
Are residents regularly checked for elevated temperatures? Yes
Are residents regularly tested for COVID-19? Yes (Conditions Apply)



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