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Guide to Senior Living in Arkansas

With just over 3 million residents, Arkansas has a much smaller population than many other southern states. About 17% of Arkansonians are age 65 and older, and by 2030, one in four will be over the age of 60.

Senior living costs of care in Arkansas are below the U.S. average for all care types. The average monthly cost of assisted living in Arkansas, for instance, is $3,175, which is $876 below the national average. A number of programs, resources and services are available to help seniors afford care. In this guide, you’ll find in-depth information for seniors and their loved ones who need assistance navigating assisted living services in Arkansas.

Covid-19 Rules and Restrictions for Arkansas Senior Living Facilities

The following rules and guidelines were obtained from the Arkansas Department of Health website, as well as other state-level government sites. Among others, these rules apply to nursing homes, residential care, assisted living.

This data has been most recently updated on 6/12/20, but keep in mind that COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving crisis, so all of the below information can change at any time. For additional questions and up-to-date information, you can contact your loved one’s senior living facility or your local Area Agency on Aging

Visiting Loved Ones

Can I visit my relative in person if he/she wants emotional support from me?Yes (conditions apply) 
Can I visit my relative in person for end-of-life compassion care?Yes 
Will my loved one be required to self-quarantine after I visit him or her?No
Do I need to wear PPE and/or a cloth mask if I do visit my relative in person?Yes
Are hairdressers and other non-medical contractors still allowed in senior living facilities?Yes, if certain safety conditions are met
Does the state recommend or require that senior living facilities assist families with setting up virtual visit alternatives?Yes, the state requires this 
Are visitors being screened for elevated temperatures?Optional
Are visitors being asked questions about health, travel, and potential virus contact?Yes

Outings and Group Activities

Are residents allowed to leave the facility for non-medical reasons?NA
Are residents of senior living facilities who leave and return required to self-quarantine?Not unless exposed
Are senior living facilities required to cancel all group outings?Yes
Are residents still eating together in the dining hall?Yes, in some cases
Are facilities still allowed to host group activities within the community?Not in most cases

Safety Measures for Staff & Contractors 

Are staff members and contractors being screened for elevated temperatures?Yes
Are staff members and contractors being tested for Coronavirus?In cases of local outbreaks
Are staff members and contractors being asked questions about health, travel, and potential virus contact?Yes

Safety Measures for Residents 

Are staff members required to regularly screen residents for coronavirus symptoms?Yes
Are residents relied on to screen themselves and self-report potential coronavirus symptoms?No
Are staff members required to take residents’ temperatures?Yes
Are residents being tested for coronavirus?In case of local outbreaks

Paying for Senior Living in Arkansas

Arkansas seniors who need care have a variety of options to choose from. As with most other states, adult day health care is the least-expensive senior care service, while a private room in a nursing home facility is the most expensive. Average assisted living costs are slightly lower than a homemaker or home health care service. Here is what seniors in Arkansas can expect to pay each month for care services:


In-Home Care/Homemaker


Assisted Living


Home Health Care


Adult Day Care


Nursing Home Care

The Cost of Assisted Living in Arkansas

According to the Genworth 2019 Cost of Care Survey, seniors in Arkansas can expect to pay an average of $3,175 per month for assisted living care, although actual costs vary with each facility. Assisted living costs in Arkansas are below the national average and some neighboring states including Tennessee, Oklahoma, Texas and Louisiana. Costs are lower to the north in Missouri.




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The Cost of In-Home Care in Arkansas

Arkansas offers in-home care for an affordable monthly fee of $3,623, much less expensive than the national average of $4,290. In-home care in The Natural State is much cheaper than similar care in Missouri, Oklahoma and Tennessee where the rates are $4,195, $4,195, and $3,813, respectively. Seniors who find Arkansas’ rates to be out of their price range should look to Louisiana where they can receive the same services at home for just $3,218 a month.




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The Cost of Nursing Home Care in Arkansas

Nursing home care is for seniors who require more assistance and medical attention than can reasonably be provided at home or in an assisted living facility. Normally, this level of care comes at a high cost. Fortunately for seniors in Arkansas, the cost of around-the-clock medical supervision is $5,505 a month, which is $2,000 less than the national average of $7,513. However, there are states in the area where nursing home care costs even less than in Arkansas: Louisiana, Missouri and Oklahoma. Care in nearby Tennessee does cost more than in these states, including Arkansas, at $6,836 monthly.




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Financial Assistance for Senior Living in Arkansas

Living Choices Assisted Living Waiver

Living Choices is a Medicaid Waiver program that covers the care costs for eligible seniors who reside in an assisted living facility. Seniors enrolled in this waiver are responsible for the room and board portion of their senior living  costs.

To qualify for Living Choices, seniors must be 65 and older, Medicaid-eligible and meet the criteria for nursing home placement at the intermediate level. Applicants must also require at least one of the services provided in assisted living facilities, such as assistance with activities of daily living, help with medication administration, or socialization.

Contact: For more information, contact the Arkansas Choices in Living Resources Center at 1-866-801-3435.

VA Aid and Attendance Allowance or Housebound Benefits

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs offers two VA pension top-up programs: the Aid and Attendance Allowance and Housebound Benefits. Money from these programs can be used towards the cost of senior living in Arkansas.

Veterans, their spouses and survivors who qualify for the regular VA pension may also qualify for one of these two enhanced pension benefits. For the Aid and Attendance Allowance, applicants must also meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • Need help from another person to perform one or more activities of daily living, such as getting dressed, adjusting a prosthetic device, using the toilet or managing an ostomy, eating, shaving or bathing
  • Be largely bedridden due to chronic illness
  • Reside in a nursing facility as a result of age-related mental and/or physical decline
  • Have corrected vision tested at 5/200 or worse in both eyes
  • Be diagnosed with concentric contraction of the visual field which results in a visual field of 5 degrees or less

To qualify for Housebound Benefits, VA regular pension beneficiaries must have a permanent disability that renders them largely restricted to their place of residence, which can include a senior living facility. Applicants may also qualify for Housebound if they have at least two disabilities, with one disability assessed at 100% by the VA and one or more additional disabilities assessed at 60% or greater. Qualified applicants may receive either Aid and Attendance or Housebound. These benefits cannot be combined.

Contact: For more information on Aid and Attendance and Housebound, seniors in Arkansas can contact their local VA location or their county veterans services office.

Senior Living Laws and Regulations in Arkansas

Note: All these rules typically apply to non-clinical senior living facilities, such as independent living, assisted  living, and memory care facilities. Nursing homes and other senior living facilities with a clinical setting may have additional or slightly different requirements and regulations.

Senior living facilities in Arkansas are regulated by the state via the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHA), the Office of Long Term Care and the Division of Medical Services. These agencies are responsible for the licensing of all senior living facilities in Arkansas, and the enforcement of the various rules and regulations regarding admission, staffing, memory care services and medication management.

Admissions Requirements

In Arkansas, senior living facilities are defined as any building that houses three or more unrelated adult residents for a period of 24 hours or greater to provide senior living services. Senior living facilitiess may be operated on a nonprofit or a for-profit basis, and senior living  services include housing, laundry and housekeeping, 24-hour supervision, meals and limited personal services.

There are two senior living licensing categories, Level I and Level II, with a wider range of services and supports available at Level II facilities. Level I senior living s provide 24-hour supervision, support with social and recreational activities, limited assistance with activities of daily living, linen service and medication assistance. Level II senior living facilities are prohibited from admitting, or continuing to care for a resident with needs that exceed the scope of the Level I senior living facility license.

Level II facilities provide all services offered by Level I facilities, plus additional direct care services and health care services that are delivered under the direct supervision of a registered nurse. These facilities also respond to the needs outlined in each seniors’ health care services plan.

Level II facilities can admit seniors who:

  • Meet the criteria for nursing home admission, but who are not bedridden or in need of 24-hour skilled nursing care
  • Are able to transfer independently, or with the use of a mechanical aid
  • Are able to self-administer medication with some limited assistance
  • Do not pose a safety risk to themselves or others due to contagious disease or violent behavior

All senior living facilities can admit seniors who are terminally ill on a temporary basis (14 days or less) if the senior otherwise meets the admission requirements.

Medication Management

In Level I licensed senior living facilities, staff may help residents self-administer oral medications by opening the medication container, and at the request of the resident, remove the medication from the packaging. The medication can then be placed in a container that the resident can use to transfer the medication to their mouth. Level I facility staff cannot administer medications.

Level II facilities must employ a consulting pharmacist. In these facilities, licensed nursing staff may administer medications to residents who are unable to self-administer due to physical and/or mental limitations.

Memory Care Regulations

Every senior living facility in Arkansas that advertises services for seniors with Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia must provide 24-hour care and supervision in a separate, designated dementia care unit. Staff who work directly with patients in the dementia unit must have a minimum of 30 hours of specialized training in dementia management. This training must cover behavior management, wandering and egress control, communication skills and individual-centered care.

Memory care staff must complete at least 2 hours of ongoing in-service training every 3 months on therapeutic activities for dementia patients.

Staffing Requirements

Every senior living facility in Arkansas must have a full-time certified administrator who is state-certified. The administrator must work in the facility at least 40 hours per week, be at least 21 years old, have a high school diploma or GED and be available during usual business hours. If the certified administrator is unavailable, a temporary administrator must be designated.

Level II senior living facilities must employ or contract with one or more registered nurses, one or more licensed practical nurses and employ certified nursing assistants to provide direct care services to residents. Level I facilities must have at least one awake staff member on-site at all times, and facilities with more than 16 residents must have a relief staff available.

Level II facilities must have at least one staff member per 15 residents between 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. and one staff member per 25 residents at all other times. Regardless of the size of the facility, at least two staff members including at least one certified nursing aide must be on-site. Staff who live at the facility are not counted while they are sleeping.

Arkansas Senior Living Free Resources

Arkansas Agencies

Arkansas Department of Human Services, Aging and Adult Services

The Arkansas Department of Human Services, Aging and Adult Services is a state government agency that works to promote health, independence and safety among adults with disabilities and the elderly within the state.

The Department oversees a variety of programs designed to meet the needs of seniors, including the Adult Abuse Hotline, the Choices in Living Resource Center and the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE).

Any resident of Arkansas can contact Aging and Adult Services for information and assistance with the programs and services offered through the department.

Contact: Call the Arkansas Department of Human Services at (501) 682-1001.

Area Agencies on Aging in Arkansas

Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) are regional agencies that provide seniors, family members and caregivers with free information on local, state and federal programs and services for the elderly. These agencies are a valuable resource for anyone who needs help navigating their long-term care options. There are eight AAAs that provide services to seniors throughout Arkansas. Seniors can locate their local AAA by calling the Arkansas Department of Human Services at (501) 682-1001 or searching the online directory.

The Area Agency on Aging of Northwest Arkansas1510 Rock Springs RdPO Box 1795Harrison AR 72602-17951 (870) 741-1144Toll Free: 1 (800) 432-9721TDD: 1 (870) 741-1346
White River AAA3998 Harrison St.Batesville, AR 725011 (870) 612-3000Toll Free & TDD: 1 (800) 382-3205
East Arkansas AAA2005 E. Highland/Fountain Sq.PO Box 5035Jonesboro AR 724031 (870) 972-5980Toll Free: 1 (800) 467-3278
Area Agency on Aging of Southeast Arkansas709 East 8thPO Box 8569Pine Bluff AR 716111 (870) 543-6300Toll Free & TDD: 1 (800) 264-3260
CareLink, the Central Arkansas Area Agency on Aging706 West 4th StreetPO Box 5988North Little Rock AR 721191 (501) 372-5300Toll Free & TDD: 1 (800) 482-6359
Area Agency on Aging West Central Arkansas905 W. Grand AvenueHot Springs AR 719131 (501) 321-2811Toll Free: 1 (800) 467-2170TDD: 1 (501) 321-2811
Area Agency on Aging of Southwest Arkansas600 Columbia Rd, 11EPO Box 1863Magnolia AR 71754-18631 (870) 234-7410Toll Free & TDD: 1 (800) 272-2127
AAA of Western Arkansas524 GarrisonPO Box 1724Fort Smith AR 729021 (479) 783-4500Toll Free: 1 (800) 320-6667

Veteran Affairs Offices in Arkansas

The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides veterans, their spouses and eligible survivors with a range of services and benefits. Qualified seniors may use money from the VA Aid and Attendance Benefit towards senior care costs. In Arkansas, assistance with VA pension programs and related services is available at any of the VA locations listed on the VA website and through county veteran services offices.

Social Security Offices in Arkansas

Social Security can provide low-income seniors with a fixed monthly income that can be used to help cover costs related to senior living. In Arkansas, seniors can find their local Social Security office by phoning the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213 or by using the SSA online office locator tool.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does assisted living cost in Arkansas?

Statewide, the average monthly cost of assisted living in Arkansas is $3,175. The actual cost varies with each facility, and costs are highest in the state capital, Little Rock, at $4,783 per month. Costs are significantly lower in smaller cities such as Jonesboro ($3,200) and Fort Smith. The least-expensive assisted living in the state is in Pine Bluff at $2,651 per month.

Are there financial assistance programs for assisted living in Arkansas?

Yes. Arkansas seniors who require care may qualify for the Living Choices Assisted Living Waiver, a Medicaid waiver designed to delay or prevent nursing home placement. This program provides funding for personal care services in a community setting, which includes state-licensed assisted living facilities. Note that under this Medicaid waiver, seniors are required to cover the cost of room and board.

What are “activities of daily living”?

Activities of daily living or ADL, are everyday tasks that a person needs to perform in order to maintain basic health, wellness and personal hygiene. These tasks include toileting, eating, getting dressed, bathing, dental care and shaving. Most assisted living facilities provide some assistance to seniors who require help with one or more ADLs.

Who should consider assisted living?

Seniors and people living with chronic disabilities who struggle to perform ADLs, who are concerned about living alone or who are experiencing age-related physical and/or cognitive decline may want to look at joining an assisted living community. Assisted living may also be a good option for seniors who have recently lost a spouse, who are unable to live with a family member for support, or who now need a wheelchair-accessible home to accommodate mobility issues.

What types of amenities are commonly in assisted living communities?

While amenities vary between different assisted living communities, most facilities offer common areas that can be used by all residents. These common areas may include one or more dining rooms, a lounge, library, games room, fitness center and worship space. Some facilities have enclosed outdoor spaces with gardens, seating areas and walking paths, as well as swimming pools, putting greens and off-leash areas for dogs.

The Top Cities for Senior Living in Arkansas

Learn more about the cost of senior living in the top Arkansas cities. Additionally, find reviews and information about assisted living facilities and other senior living communities across the state.

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