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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.

The Cost of Senior Living in Arkansas

Note: There currently isn’t authoritative data on the average cost of Independent Living Facilities nationwide, so instead, we use the cost of Assisted Living to estimate it. Since the cost of Independent Living is typically 30-40% lower than the cost of Assisted Living, the numbers below were calculated by subtracting 35% from the cost of Assisted Living.

Note: Memory care is typically provided in communities licensed as assisted living facilities, and in general, costs 20-30% more than standard assisted living services. No authoritative cost data is available for this type of care, so we estimated memory care rates by adding 25% to assisted living fees in the Genworth 2021 Cost of Care Survey.

Seniors looking to retire in a residential long-term care community have several options in Arkansas. The 2021 Genworth Cost of Care Survey shows the average costs of long-term care throughout the state. Assisted living provides help with activities of daily living, such as housekeeping, grooming, meal prep and transportation, while memory care focuses on helping those with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia live their best lives for as long as possible. Memory care includes increased security in a structured environment to reduce stress. Nursing homes offer the most comprehensive care, including round-the-clock medical supervision, therapy, physician’s visits and medication management. Independent living is an option for people who want to live in a seniors-only community while maintaining their independence.

The average cost of assisted living in Arkansas is $3,760 per month, which is around 20% cheaper than the $4,700 monthly cost of memory care. Nursing homes cost around $6,083 in Arkansas, while independent living is around $2,444 per month.


Assisted Living


Independent Living


Memory Care


Nursing Home Care

The Cost of Assisted Living in Arkansas

Assisted living in Arkansas averages $3,760 per month. Arkansas seniors pay approximately $740 less per month than the national average. Oklahoma and Tennessee residents pay more for assisted living with costs of $3,855 and $4,105. Those in Louisiana and Missouri pay less than Arkansas seniors at $3,748 and $3,000 per month.




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The Cost of Nursing Home Care in Arkansas

Nursing homes vary in cost depending on the resident’s needs, the type of room and the location of the facility. On average, a semiprivate room in a nursing home in Arkansas is $6,083. This is less than the national average of $7,908. Comparing neighboring states, Tennessee is the only one with higher costs at $7,148. Oklahoma and Louisiana residents pay around $5,475 and $5,759 per month. Missouri has one of the lowest costs at $5,262.




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Can You Use Medicaid to Pay for Senior Living in Arkansas?

Arkansas Medicaid covers the full cost of nursing home care for eligible seniors. It also indirectly covers some services in memory care and assisted living using waivers, provided that they are deemed medically necessary by a physician. Because independent living is an optional residential living arrangement rather than a medical requirement, it typically isn’t covered by Medicaid, Medicare or private insurance.

 Medicaid Coverage LevelType of Medicaid CoverageEntitlement? *
Assisted LivingPartialWaiver No
Independent LivingNone N/A N/A
Memory CarePartial Waiver No 
Nursing Home CareFull Medicaid Yes 

*Note: Entitlement programs mean that everyone who qualifies will receive coverage and be accepted into the programs. If the program is not “entitlement,” then participant caps could be in place, and there may be a waiting list.

Medicaid’s Coverage of Assisted Living & Memory Care in Arkansas

Personal care services in assisted living and memory care are covered under the Living Choices Assisted Living waiver. This waiver allows seniors to live at home or in a long-term residential care facility to delay admission into a nursing home. 

Living Choices Assisted Living Waiver (ALW)

The Living Choices ALW is a Home- and Community-Based Services waiver that covers 24-hour supervision and personal care services in a state-licensed facility. It doesn’t cover room and board, but it does pay for activities of daily living, including grooming, dressing, bathing, meals and transportation. 

It isn’t an entitlement program, which means that only a limited number of applicants are accepted for payments. Prioritization on the waiting list is given based on the date of the application and the severity of the need. Those who qualify for regular Medicaid qualify for Living Choices.

Medicaid’s Coverage of Nursing Home Care in Arkansas

In Arkansas, memory care is completely covered under state Medicaid as long as a physician has prescribed this type of care. A representative from the Department of Human Services must apply for admission into a facility in the county where the nursing home is located. Services covered include prescription medications and physician co-payments. Those who are eligible for coverage under regular Medicaid are eligible for nursing home care.

Eligibility for Medicaid in Arkansas

Arkansas seniors applying for Medicaid must meet the income and asset limits required for eligibility to receive benefits. Single applicants must have incomes totaling no more than $30,276 per year. Assets can’t exceed $2,000 for a single applicant and $3,000 in a two-person household when both individuals apply. In two-person households when only one person applies for Medicaid, the asset limit is $2,000 for the applicant and $137,400 for the nonapplicant. The nonapplicant may also receive an additional monthly allowance to prevent poverty.

2022 Arkansas Medicaid Income Limits

 Income Limits*Asset Limits
Single Person$30,276$2,000
Two-Person Household
(Only One Applicant)
$30,276 per applicant$2,000 for applicant
$137,400 for nonapplicant
Two-Person Household
(Two Applicants)
$30,276 per applicant$3,000

*Per year

Medicaid applicants must meet additional eligibility requirements.

  • Must be a resident of Arkansas
  • Citizen of the United States or legal alien
  • Require nursing home care
  • Be at least 65 years of age or older

Applying for Medicaid in Arkansas

You can apply for Arkansas Medicaid through the Access Arkansas website or by calling (800) 482-8988. Alternatively, you may download a paper application and mail it to DHS Pine Bluff Scanning Center, P.O. Box 8848, Pine Bluff, AR 71611-8848 or fax your completed application to (870) 534-3421. Applications may also be completed and submitted in person at any local Arkansas Department of Human Services County Office of Community Services.

Before You Apply

Gather the following basic information prior to completing an application for Arkansas Medicaid.

  • Birth certificate
  • Proof of citizenship or qualified alien status
  • Valid Social Security number
  • Proof of income for the past 30 days
  • Copies of bank statements for the past 30 days
  • Copies of insurance policies
  • Proof of property ownership
  • Award letters for Social Security, veterans’ benefits, wills, powers of attorney, retirement accounts
  • Any other documentation to prove eligibility

How to Get Help

Seniors applying for Medicaid in Arkansas can contact the following resources to get help throughout the entire application process. This includes assistance with eligibility and answers to questions regarding additional financial help and information.

ResourceContactWhat You Should Know
Arkansas Attorney General(501) 682-2007The Arkansas Attorney General assists consumers applying for Medicaid and Medicare and provides additional information on other benefits programs. The Attorney General’s office can help with enrollment and the coordination of benefits or answer questions on third-party liability, false claims and help finding supplemental insurance.
Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS)(501) 682-8233The Arkansas DHS helps improve seniors’ quality of life by connecting them to available programs and services by area. The DHS also answers questions regarding Medicaid, including eligibility, program details and supplemental insurance. 423-4746The federal government’s official Medicaid website provides details on Medicaid eligibility, links to state pages, contact information and assistance with claims and benefits.

Can You Use Medicare to Pay for Senior Living in Arkansas?

Unfortunately, Medicare does not cover the cost of assisted living, independent living, or memory care. Unlike nursing homes, these care types are not considered to be “clinical settings” and so are not eligible for Medicare coverage. That being said, those who live in these communities can still use Medicare to cover the cost of approved medications, doctor visits, medical equipment, etc.

When it comes to nursing home care, it gets much more complicated. Medicare does provide limited coverage for a qualified stay in a nursing home,but there are strict rules and requirements of which you should be aware. This benefit is available to seniors who have been hospitalized for at least three days, excluding the date of discharge.

Once you’ve met the hospitalization requirement, Medicare will pay for up to 100 days in a skilled nursing facility (per benefit period). While the first 20 days are covered in full, there is a daily coinsurance rate that must be paid starting on day 21. After day 100, seniors are responsible for the entire cost.

Medicare CoverageMedicare Coverage DurationCoinsurance Requirement?
Assisted LivingNoneN/AN/A
Independent LivingNoneN/AN/A
Memory CareNoneN/AN/A
Nursing Home CareLimited100 Days Per Benefit PeriodYes – After 20 Days

What Nursing Home Care Services Does Medicare Cover?

Medicare covers a number of specific services, including:

  • Meals
  • A semiprivate room
  • Medications
  • Skilled nursing services
  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Speech therapy
  • Audiologist care
  • Medical supplies
  • Medical social services
  • Nutritional counseling
  • Ambulance transportation

What Nursing Home Care Services Aren’t Covered by Medicare?

Medicare does not cover long-term custodial care that addresses seniors’ day-to-day needs. This includes help with daily activities, such as bathing, dressing and using medical equipment.

Medicare Support & Resources in Indiana

Seniors applying for Medicare may have questions about the different options available to best assist with their medical needs. These resources can help older adults navigate the application process, understand their benefits, appeal denials and make decisions about supplemental insurance.

ResourceContactWhat You Should Know
Arkansas State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP)(800) 224-6330SHIP provides unbiased and in-depth insurance counseling for older adults and their families and caregivers. The program helps seniors make decisions about their Medicare coverage, understand their eligibility criteria and compare the coverage amounts for the different policy options.
Arkansas Insurance Department(501) 371-2619The Medicare division of the Arkansas Insurance Department provides general information about the state insurance program. Resources include information on Medicare Savings Programs, preventive services, low-income subsidies and extra insurance help. 275-1131Seniors searching for state or federal benefits can start at The site provides basic information on all programs, including Medicare and Medicaid. The site also gives details on eligibility, contact information and a brief overview of each program. Seniors can fill out the prescreening form to determine if they may be eligible before they fill out an official application.

Are There Other Financial Assistance Options for Senior Living in Arkansas?

Depending on your unique situation, there may be other financial assistance options to partially or fully cover the cost of senior living in Arkansas. Below, we cover some of the common ways that seniors can make senior living options such as assisted living or memory care more affordable.

How to Get StartedWhat You Should Know
Aid and AttendanceApply online at you are a veteran and you receive a VA pension, you may also be eligible for the Aid and Attendance benefit. This benefit takes the form of a monthly cash allowance that you receive in addition to your standard pension. This benefit is used by veterans who need long-term care services, including care received at an assisted living facility.
Reverse MortgagesResearch and learn about the different types at you own a home, you may be able to use a reverse mortgage to access some of the equity in your home. Like traditional loans, reverse mortgages do need to be repaid with interest, typically within 12 months, so seniors should carefully weigh this option alongside other financing methods.
Long-Term Care (LTC) InsuranceLearn about how to receive LTC insurance benefits at those who currently need assisted living will typically not be eligible, if you purchased an LTC insurance policy in the past, you may be able to use it to help pay for assisted living. While most policies cover at least a portion of the cost, you still need to check the specific terms of your policy.

Free Senior Living Resources for Seniors in Arkansas

Older adults seeking senior care in Arkansas can get help to improve their quality of life through many available programs and services.

 ContactWhat You Should Know
Arkansas Long-Term Care Ombudsman(888) 286-3610The ombudsman program protects seniors who live in long-term care facilities by ensuring that communities respect residents’ rights and maintain the standards for care as defined by the state and federal governments. The ombudsman investigates and resolves complaints, provides community resources to older adults and their caregivers, advocates for change and works to protect the rights of seniors.
Arkansas Area Agencies on Aging(501) 686-9164Area Agencies on Aging (AAA) can help seniors find local programs and services based on their location. The AAAs support senior centers throughout the state that can assist with meals, transportation and daytime activities.
Adult Protective Services(800) 482-8049Adult Protective Services (APS) is mandated by the state to investigate reports of abuse, neglect, fraud and exploitation of seniors and adults aged 18 or older with a disability who live in long-term care facilities or within the community. The APS maintains a hotline where complaints may be filed 24/7.
Arkansas Senior Resource Directory(501) 321-6171The Arkansas Senior Resource Directory is an online database of programs and services for seniors throughout the state. The publication also includes age-related stories and important information to benefit older adults.
Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs(501) 683-2382Men and women who’ve served in the United States military can find programs and services provided directly to veterans and their families. The Aid and Attendance benefit helps cover the cost of activities of daily living for older adults in assisted living and other long-term care settings. Additional benefits include education assistance, housing benefits, health care, counseling and job assistance.

Covid-19 Rules and Restrictions for Arkansas Senior Living Facilities

The following information is based on research done on several government websites, including These rules apply to nursing homes and other types of senior living facilities. We’ve most recently updated this data on 2/2/2022, but since COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving pandemic, contact your local senior living facility or Area Agency on Aging for more specific and up-to-date information.

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

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.

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.

Learn More About Senior Living in Arkansas

For more information about specific types of senior living in Arkansas read our Guide to Assisted Living and Independent Living.

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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