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Assisted Living in Arkansas

Arkansas is home to over 3 million residents of whom 17.4% are seniors aged 65 and older. While it’s known for its picturesque waterways and mountainous landscapes, the state has much more to offer than an abundance of natural beauty. With its low cost of living, affordable health care and tax-friendliness toward retirees, Arkansas is an attractive destination for individuals looking to retire and live comfortably on a fixed budget.

Some seniors may also be interested in assisted living services as a way to enjoy a maintenance-free lifestyle with the added benefit of daily personal care assistance. At an average monthly cost of $3,760, Arkansas has some of the lowest assisted living costs in all the U.S.

This guide explores assisted living in Arkansas, including what seniors can expect to pay for these services compared to nearby states and other types of care. It also provides information about Medicaid and Medicare coverage, advice on where to find financial assistance and a list of free resources that can help aging Arkansans thrive.

How Much Does Assisted Living Cost in in Arkansas?

As reported by the Genworth Cost of Care Survey 2021, seniors in Arkansas pay an average of $3,760 per month for assisted living services, which is significantly less than the national average of $4,500. Many neighboring states have similar average costs. To the southeast, seniors in Mississippi pay around $3,500 for assisted living, and in Oklahoma, these costs are slightly higher at an average of $3,855. The most affordable nearby option is Missouri — at $3,000, assisted living services are more than $700 less expensive than there are in Arkansas. Conversely, the region’s highest costs are in Tennessee at an average of $4,105 per month.

$3760

Arkansas

$4500

The United States

$3500

Mississippi

$3000

Missouri

$3855

Oklahoma

$4105

Tennessee

The Cost of Assisted Living in Arkansas’ Top Cities

Assisted living costs not only vary by state but are often different from city to city. In Arkansas, assisted living care is most expensive in the central cities of Little Rock and Hot Springs where the average monthly costs are $4,488 and $4,500, respectively. In the northwestern corner of the state, these services cost around $3,850 in Fort Smith and $3,650 in Fayetteville. Care in an ALF is also $3,650 per month in Jonesboro. The state’s most affordable city is Pine Bluff, as seniors can expect to pay an average of $3,329.

$4488

Little Rock

$4500

Hot Springs

$3650

Fayetteville

$3850

Fort Smith

$3650

Jonesboro

$3329

Pine Bluff

The Cost of Assisted Living vs. Other Types of Care

Depending on a senior’s individual level of need, there are other care options available in Arkansas. One option is adult day care. This type of care costs an average of $1,733 per month and is best suited to those who require minimal care and assistance. A homemaker’s services (non-medical) or the assistance of a home health aide (medical) may be preferable for seniors who want to age in place in the comfort of their own homes. These services are priced at $4,185 and $4,195, respectively. Seniors who require 24-hour supervision and specialized medical care may be most comfortable in a nursing home environment. These types of facilities are the most expensive option, costing an average of $6,083 per month for accommodation in a semiprivate room.

$3760

Assisted Living Facility

$1733

Adult Day Care

$4185

Homemaker Services

$4195

Home Health Aide

$6083

Nursing Home Facility (semiprivate room)

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

Yes, the Arkansas Medicaid State Plan covers personal care services in long-term care facilities, which must be registered as Medicaid-authorized providers. Seniors receiving Medicaid benefits may be eligible for additional assistance through the state’s Living Choices Assisted Living waiver program. While it isn’t a waiver program, Arkansas’ Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) may be another option for Medicaid-enrolled seniors to access long-term care supports.

Medicaid’s Coverage of Assisted Living in Arkansas

Arkansas’ Medicaid State Plan provides a variety of personal care services to eligible seniors living in assisted living facilities or other community-based settings. These services are assigned on an individualized basis and personalized to reflect each beneficiary’s unique needs, including assistance with activities of daily living, such as grooming and bathing, intermittent skilled nursing care, medication monitoring and assistance with self-administering medications.

The Living Choices Assisted Living waiver is for seniors who require the level of care provided by a nursing home but can have their needs sufficiently supported by an assisted living facility that offers enhanced care and services.

Through PACE, seniors aged 55 and older may be eligible for additional long-term care support services to enable them to live at home or in a community-based setting rather than risking institutionalization. This may include assisted living services, such as prescription medication coverage, physical and occupational therapies, dentistry, transportation and hospice care.

Waiver Programs for Assisted Living in Arkansas

Living Choices Assisted Living Waiver

The Living Choices Assisted Living Waiver coordinates home and community-based services for seniors or individuals age 21 and older who are blind or have a physical disability. This waiver program is administered by the Division of Aging and Adult Services (DAAS) and the Division of Medical Services (DMS). The waiver covers a range of personal, health and social services for individuals residing in Level II assisted living facilities. The program breaks its services down into four different tiers of need, and participants each receive a personalized plan of care. Services may include assistance with personal grooming, bathing and prescription medications.

To be eligible, applicants must:

  • Be 65 years of age or older, or
  • 21 to 64 years old who are blind or have a physical disability
  • A legal resident of Arkansas
  • Require a nursing home level of care
  • Have a monthly income that does not exceed 300% of the SSI Federal Benefit Rate

Seniors can contact their local county Department of Social Services for more information about the program or assistance with completing and submitting an application. Individuals may also apply quickly and conveniently online via the Access Arkansas portal.

Eligibility for Medicaid in Arkansas

In terms of their personal finances, an applicant’s income must not be higher than $17,131 and assets must not exceed $2,000. If their spouse is also applying, the combined income limitation for the pair is $23,169, with an asset limitation of $3,000. If only one spouse is applying, the non-applicant may hold up to $137,400 in personal assets. Some items are not counted as assets, including many household effects, family heirlooms and one vehicle.

2022 Medicaid Income Limits for Seniors in Arkansas


Income Limits* Asset Limits
Single Applicant$17,131$2,000
Two-Person Household
(Only One Person Applying)
$23,169$2,000 for applicant
$137,400 for non-applicant
Two-Person Household
(Both People Applying)
$23,169$3,000

*per year

To receive Medicaid benefits, seniors must meet a series of different requirements in terms of age, income and functional need. Seniors who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits automatically qualify for coverage. An applicant must:

  • Be 65 years of age or older, blind or have a permanent disability
  • Be a legal resident of Arkansas
  • Be a U.S. national, permanent resident or legal alien with immigration status
  • Meet the current income and asset limits

Applying for Medicaid in Arkansas

To apply for Medicaid benefits, Arkansas seniors can visit the Access Arkansas online portal and submit a digital application. Alternatively, they can contact their local county office of the Department of Human Services (DHS) for assistance with reviewing and submitting an application. To review their options, seniors can call the Choices in Living Resource Center and speak to a trained options counselor.

Before You Apply:

When applying for Medicaid, seniors must have the following information available:

  • Full legal name
  • Proof of age
  • Proof of permanent residency in Arkansas
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship or immigration status
  • Proof of household income (Social Security benefits, Supplemental Security Income, veterans’ benefits and tax returns)
  • Proof of assets, including all bank accounts, retirement accounts and trusts 
  • Social Security number 
  • Current health insurance policy numbers, including Medicare and life insurance

Where to Go to Get Help

When navigating the Medicaid application process, the following organizations and agencies can help provide information and assistance at every stage:

Resource Contact Service 
Arkansas Department of Human Services(501) 682-1001The Arkansas Department of Human Services provides seniors with information about the long-term care services and supports available to them, including Medicaid eligibility, available waiver programs and details of the application process. The department oversees offices in each county offices across the state. Seniors should contact their local county office for information specific to their area.
Department of Human Services – Appeals and Hearings Section (800) 482-5850, ext 2-8622 Seniors who have an issue with their Medicaid coverage or are denied coverage based on their initial application can contact the Department of Human Services – Appeals and Hearing Section to schedule a  hearing. Appeals must be requested within 30 days of receiving the original letter from Medicaid.
Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care(888) 987-1200The Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care is a nonprofit organization dedicated to making Medicaid services better for Arkansans. Its efforts include conducting surveys with participants, collecting complaints and speaking with health care professionals across the state. The organization also operates a toll-free Medicaid hotline that seniors can call for information about Medicaid programs and assistance with the application process. Its operators are fluent in both English and Spanish.
Choices in Living Resource Center(866) 801-3435The Choices in Living Resource Center is an Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC) where seniors can access information about long-term care assistance, including Medicaid. Program specialists help seniors understand their options, locate appropriate application forms and make informed decisions about long-term care and health coverage.
Access Arkansas(855) 372-1084Access Arkansas is a comprehensive resource for residents of Arkansas to learn about health care benefits, discover the benefits they’re entitled to and apply to receive those benefits. The organization provides information on programs like Medicaid and hosts a toll-free helpline that seniors can call for questions and guidance when applying for programs.

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

Unfortunately, Medicare does not cover the cost of assisted living in Arkansas. Unlike nursing homes, assisted living facilities are not considered to be “clinical settings’ and so are not eligible for Medicare coverage. That being said, you can still use Medicare to cover the cost of approved medications, doctor visits, medical equipment, etc.

For more information about what Medicare visit medicare.gov.

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


How to ApplyHow It Works
Aid and AttendanceApply online at va.gov.If 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 ftc.govIf 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 acl.gov.While 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 and Low-Cost Resources for Seniors in Arkansas

There are a variety of nonprofit organizations and government-sponsored agencies dedicated to helping seniors in Arkansas access the resources and support they need for healthy aging. These may include information about health care benefits, community-based care services, free legal aid and local recreational programming.

Resource Contact Service 
Arkansas Association of Area Agencies on Aging(866) 739-7751The Arkansas Association of Area Agencies on Aging provides information and resources to Arkansas’ aging population. The state is separated into eight regions, each of which is represented by its own Area Agency of Aging. Seniors can contact their regional office to learn about how they can access services, including care coordination, family caregiver support, transportation, personal care assistance and veterans’ aid, as well as locate their nearest senior activity center.
Division of Aging, Adult and Behavioral Health Services(800) 963-5337 Part of the Arkansas Department of Human Services, the Division of Aging, Adult and Behavioral Health Services oversees home and community-based programs for aging adults. The agency can help seniors find local services and programs to suit their individual care needs. This includes providing information and assistance with applying for Medicaid waiver programs and other long-term care benefits options.
Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs(501) 683-2382The Arkansas Department of Veterans Services helps connect aging veterans and their eligible dependents with federal and state services and benefits. These may include health care, claims assistance, pensions and Aid and Attendance payments. Through its many advocacy and education initiatives, the organization strives to support the needs of veterans and provide access to resources, including support groups, mental health services, legal aid and a crisis line. Seniors may also be eligible for care at one of the state’s two veterans’ homes, in Fayetteville and Little Rock.
Arkansas Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program(888) 286-3610The mission of the Arkansas Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program is to advocate for the safety, needs and health of seniors living in assisted living facilities. This includes investigating and resolving complaints, promoting residents’ rights and helping facilities identify areas of improvement. The organization also provides information and community resources to seniors and their family members to keep them informed of their rights and feeling empowered to advocate for themselves.
Social Security Offices (800) 772-1213 At their local Social Security Administration office, seniors can obtain Medicare and Social Security cards needed to apply for public health benefits, including Social Security Disability Insurance, Supplemental Security Income, Medicare and Medicaid. These offices also provide screening services to determine seniors’ eligibility for Medicaid and SSI.
Arkansas Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP)(866) 726-2916The Arkansas Senior Medicare Patrol is a program created to protect seniors against health care fraud. This collaborative effort strives to protect Medicare and Medicaid clients from experiencing fraud, including how to detect it and where to report it to prevent others from falling victim.
UAMS Centers on Aging(501) 686-8948UAMS Centers on Aging is a program created by the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging that provides health education, resources, clinical care and caregiver support to seniors across the state. Its centers host free community programming, including educational seminars, exercise classes and recreational programs.

COVID-19 Rules for Assisted Living in Arkansas

The following information is based on research done on several government websites, including healthy.arkansas.gov. 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?Not Available*
Can I visit my relative in person for end-of-life compassion care?Not Available*
Will my loved one be required to self-quarantine after I visit him or her?Not Available*
Do I need to wear PPE and/or a cloth mask if I do visit my relative in person?Not Available*
Are Hairdressers and other non-medical contractors still allowed in senior living facilities?Not Available*
Does the state recommend or require that senior living facilities assist families with setting up virtual visit alternatives? Not Available*
Are visitors being screened for elevated temperatures?Yes
Are visitors being asked questions about health, travel, and potential virus contact?Yes

*NOTE: This information was not available for this state, contact your local area agency on aging or senior living facility for more information.

Outings and Group Activities

Are residents allowed to leave the facility for non-medical reasons?Not Available*
Are residents of senior living facilities who leave and return required to self-quarantine?Not Available*
Are senior living facilities required to cancel all group outings?No
Are residents still eating together in the dining hall?Not Available*
Are facilities still allowed to host group activities within the community?Not Available*

*NOTE: This information was not available for this state, contact your local area agency on aging or senior living facility for more information.

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?Not Available*
Are staff members and contractors being asked questions about health, travel, and potential virus contact?Yes

*NOTE: This information was not available for this state, contact your local area agency on aging or senior living facility for more information.

Safety Measures for Residents

Are staff members required to regularly screen residents for coronavirus symptoms?Not Available*
Are residents relied on to screen themselves and self-report potential coronavirus symptoms?Not Available*
Are staff members required to take residents’ temperatures?Not Available*
Are residents being tested for coronavirus?Yes (Conditions Apply)

*NOTE: This information was not available for this state, contact your local area agency on aging or senior living facility for more information.

Assisted Living Laws and Regulations in Arkansas

The Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS), Division of Medical Services, Office of Long Term Care is responsible for the licensing and regulation of both Level I and Level II assisted living facilities throughout the state. The DHS conducts scheduled and unnanounced inspections to ensure that facilities are compliant with state and federal regulations.

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