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Guide to Senior Living in Delaware

A coastal mid-Atlantic state with a population of just under 1 million, Delaware is one of the smallest U.S. states by both size and number of residents. In spite of its small size, senior citizens comprise a large portion of the state — around 19%. This number is only expected to grow; by 2030, 300,000 adults in Delaware are expected to be over age 60 versus about 250,000 today. This is an increase of 16%, suggesting a need for additional senior resources in the year to come.

However, Delaware’s diminutive presence doesn’t mean that it’s a particularly affordable state to call home. For example, seniors in Delaware can expect to spend $6,035 per month on assisted living facilities, nearly $2,000 higher than the national average of $4,051. This guide serves as an overview of the state of assisted living in Delaware, including average costs of care, laws surrounding assisted living facilities and financial resources that can help seniors afford a wonderful place to call home.

Covid-19 Rules and Restrictions for Delaware Senior Living Facilities

The following rules and guidelines were obtained from the Department of Health and Social Services: Division of Health Care Quality website, as well as other state-level government sites. Among others, these rules apply to most forms of long-term care/ congregate housing including assisted living, nursing homes, intermediate care facilities for persons with intellectual disabilities, and rest (residential) facilities.

This data has been most recently updated on 7/14/20, 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 (may vary by facility)
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?NA
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?No
Does the state recommend or require that senior living facilities assist families with setting up virtual visit alternatives?NA
Are visitors being screened for elevated temperatures?Yes
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?Yes, but they are discouraged from doing so
Are residents of senior living facilities who leave and return required to self-quarantine?NA
Are senior living facilities required to cancel all group outings?Up to the facility
Are residents still eating together in the dining hall?Up to the facility
Are facilities still allowed to host group activities within the community?Up to the facility

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?Yes
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?Optional
Are residents being tested for coronavirus?Yes

Paying for Senior Living in Delaware

Assisted living facilities can be a great option for seniors living in Delaware, providing access to around-the-clock assistance while still allowing seniors to retain some independence. However, it’s not the best choice for everyone, and it’s not the most affordable option in Delaware. Adult day health care is the least expensive form of senior care in the state, while the cost for home health options is also far less. These are some of the alternative forms of care seniors can consider:


Assisted Living


In-Home Care


Home Health Care


Adult Day Care


Nursing Home Care

The Cost of Assisted Living in Delaware

According to Genworth Financial’s 2019 Cost of Care Survey, the average per-month cost of an assisted living facility in Delaware is $6,035. This rate is one of the highest in any state in the country and comes in at nearly $2,000 higher than the national average of $4,051. It’s also more expensive than virtually all of the surrounding states except for New Jersey, and it’s far beyond the average costs in Virginia, New York, Maryland and Pennsylvania.




United States


New Jersey




New York





The Cost of In-Home Care in Delaware

Compared to the national average of $4,290, the cost of in-home care in Delaware is moderate at $4,671 a month. This is slightly less expensive than the cost of in-home care in New Jersey, $4,767, but more expensive than the rates in Pennsylvania, $4,385; Maryland, $4,481; and Virginia, $4,195. 




United States


New Jersey







The Cost of Nursing Home Care in Delaware

Nursing home care is  the priciest kind of elder care due to the extent of ongoing medical care and supervision that seniors receive. In the state of Delaware this amounts to $10,897 a month, well above the national average of $7,513 a month. New Jersey has similar rates to Delaware with monthly costs of $10,646. Pennsylvania and Maryland have more affordable nursing home fees at $9,733 and $9,673, respectively. Virginia is the best option for seniors on a budget with a below average cost of $7,350. 




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New Jersey







Financial Assistance for Senior Living in Delaware

Delaware Diamond State Health Plan Plus

The Delaware Diamond State Health Plan Plus is Delaware’s managed Medicaid program. While the state has foregone participation in the Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services waiver program that most other states use, the in-state DSHP+ program still has many options for seniors in need of care. The Medicaid program includes coverage for adult day care, home modifications, hospice care and both nursing and senior living care. Delaware’s Medicaid model also includes PACE, or Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly. Once enrolled in PACE, seniors who meet a nursing home level of care can qualify for coverage of extensive medical needs, including care in a nursing or senior living facility in a PACE provider service area.

Eligibility for DSHP+ in Delaware is limited to those at least 65 years of age or with a qualifying disability. In addition, monthly income cannot be greater than 250% of the current Social Security Income standard. As of 2020, this amount is equal to $1,957.50. For married partners where only one spouse is applying for Medicaid, the non-applicant spouse’s income isn’t included in this calculation. If the non-applicant spouse doesn’t have substantial income, the applicant spouse can provide a supplement of up to $3,216. This amount is considered a monthly maintenance needs allowance. In essence, this means that for a married couple in which only the applicant spouse has income, the maximum threshold is $5,173.50 per month.

Applicants’ countable assets cannot exceed $2,000. Home equity is not included if the applicant is living in the home or intends to return to the home and the value of the home is not greater than $595,000.

Contact: Delaware residents can apply for Medicaid online at or through Delaware ASSIST. Seniors can obtain paper applications by calling 1-800-372-2022 or (302) 255-9500, or they can visit a DSS office for assistance.

VA Aid and Attendance Benefit

For Delaware residents who served in the armed forces, the VA Aid and Attendance Benefit can provide resources for seniors seeking senior living care. These benefits don’t replace the monthly pension amount but are instead in addition to any stipends currently in use. To qualify for these benefits, veterans or their surviving spouses must meet the following criteria:

  • Require assistance of a caretaker to perform standard activities of daily living like eating, dressing and bathing
  • Have a disability that has resulted in remaining bedridden outside of prescribed treatments or convalescence
  • Be a current patient in a nursing home due to mental or physical health challenges
  • Have eyesight at an acuity of 5/200 when corrected in both eyes or concentric correction equal or less than five degrees

While the benefit amount changes annually with inflation, the monthly 2020 benefit payment is capped at $1,788 for veterans, $1,149 for the surviving spouse of a veteran and $2,120 per month for couples.

Contact: To apply, eligible seniors can visit their county office or call (765) 747-7810. Veterans can also mail the VA Form 21-2680 to their nearest local VA office.

Senior Living Laws and Regulations in Delaware

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 play an important role in senior care in Delaware. As such, the programs must adhere to stringent rules and regulations to ensure seniors are as safe and healthy as possible. These are some of the key policies governing senior living in Delaware.

Scope of Care

ALFs in Delaware are intended to provide living arrangements to seniors in a medically stable condition who don’t require skilled nursing services. Facilities must to:

  • Ensure resident service agreements are properly implemented
  • Provide all necessary personal services, including all activities of daily living
  • Facilitate health care and social services as needed
  • Provide access to leisure activities and social interaction opportunities

Admission Policy

Senior living facilities aren’t permitted to admit individuals who require care for more serious medical conditions. Accordingly, admission is restricted to those who don’t meet any of the following criteria:

  • Consistent nursing care
  • Ongoing monitoring, testing or adjustment of treatments and medications
  • Required monitoring of chronic medical conditions that can’t be stabilized through normal treatments
  • Bedridden for two weeks or more
  • Stage III or IV skin ulcers
  • Required support from a ventilator or an intravenous or central line
  • Have an unstable tracheotomy or PEG tube

Medication Management

ALFs in Delaware must comply with the Nurse Practice Act, which states that medications and treatments can only be provided by unlicensed personnel who are trained under Board of Nursing-approved Limited Lay Administration of Medications (LLAM) Core Curriculum and ALF Specific Courses. Each facility needs to create medication policies and procedures related to storing and administering medication, which must be reviewed quarterly by a pharmacist.

Staffing Requirements

All ALFs must have a director who oversees the facility, and facilities with more than 25 beds must have a full-time administrator. All facilities must have a licensed RN serving as a Director of Nursing. Resident assistants must be at least 18 years old. ALFs need to have at least one awake staff member who is qualified to administer medication available at all times. This person must also know basic first aid. There are no other required staffing ratios in Delaware.

Staff members working in ALFs must receive a comprehensive orientation that goes over fire and safety policies, infection control, food safety, health management and how to meet psycho-social needs of residents. Twelve hours of continuing education is required annually. CE programs must be approved by the Board of Nursing Home Examiners.

Background checks and drug tests aren’t required by law in Delaware but may be the policy of specific facilities.

Memory Care Regulation

Any ALFs that serve people with dementia must have specialized policies and procedures related to memory care that abide by all state and local legal regulations. These policies must be disclosed as requested. Any staff members working in this area of a facility must be certified and licensed in memory care responsibilities.

Delaware Senior Living Free Resources

Delaware Agencies

Delaware Division of Services for Aging and Adults with Physical Disabilities

The Division of Services for Aging and Adults with Physical Disabilities is a state agency in Delaware that supports the needs of seniors and disabled adults. This organization provides state-specific information to seniors, including connections to state agencies, information about Medicare and Medicaid, tips for healthy living and ways to report potential senior abuse. This includes a comprehensive guide to financial assistance programs, housing options and living arrangements, food programs and caretaker information.

All seniors and their family members and caretakers are permitted to contact the Division of Services for Aging and Adults with Physical Disabilities for assistance with senior-related issues.

Contact: Residents of Delaware can contact the Division of Services for Aging and Adults with Physical Disabilities by phone at 1-800-223-9074 or via email at [email protected].

Veterans Affairs Offices in Delaware

For veterans of military service in the United States and their spouses, Veterans Affairs offices can be a valuable source of additional benefits. The VA Aid and Attendance Benefit in particular can be an excellent financial resource for those who qualify, providing more forms of payment for senior living facilities.

Delaware Commission Of Veterans Affairs802 Silver Lake Blvd, Suite 100Dover, DE 19904(800) 344-9900 or(302) 739-2792
Kent County Community Based Outpatient Clinic1198 S. Governors Avenue, Suite 201Dover, DE 19901(800) 461-8262 X 2400
Sussex County Community Based Outpatient Center21748 Roth AveGeorgetown, DE 19947(800) 461-8262 X 2300
Wilmington Regional Benefits Office1601 Kirkwood HighwayWilmington, DE 19805Monday-Friday, 8:30am-4pm1-855-574-7286

Social Security Offices in Delaware

For retired seniors no longer earning an income through employment, Social Security Income is a valuable resource. SSI can be used to pay for senior living facilities as well as other day-to-day expenses. Seniors with questions about SSI can contact one of the Delaware Social Security offices.

New Castle920 West Basin Rd #200
New Castle, DE 19720
(800) 772-1213
Dover500 W Loockerman Street Suite 100
Dover, DE 19904
(800) 772-1213
Lewes12001 Old Vine Blvd #101
Lewes, DE 19958
(800) 772-1213

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does assisted living cost in Delaware?

Assisted living in Delaware averages $6,035 per month, one of the highest amounts in the country. As one of the smallest states in the United States without major metro areas, the amount seniors can expect to pay for assisted living is consistent across the state.

Are there financial assistance programs for assisted living in Delaware?

Yes, there are financial assistance programs seniors can use to help afford the cost assisted living in Delaware. The Delaware Diamond State Health Plan Plus, or DSHP+, is Delaware’s Medicaid program and offers coverage for numerous services that fall under the purview of assisted living. Delaware residents who served in the military can also take advantage of the VA Aid and Attendance Benefit.

What are Activities of Daily Living?

Activities of Daily Living, also known as ADLs, are tasks that are needed to live a normal life. ADLs include things like getting dressed, using the bathroom, bathing, cooking, eating and light housework. Requiring assistance with ADLs is a primary reason many seniors choose to live in an assisted living facility.

What is the difference between assisted living and nursing homes?

The primary difference between assisted living and nursing homes relates to the level of medical care required. Assisted living programs are generally restricted to basic first aid and medication management. Seniors living with more serious medical problems, like chronic conditions, nasogastric tubes or ongoing infections, are better suited for nursing home care.

Who should consider assisted living?

Assisted living is a good fit for seniors who need help with ADLs but don’t want to remain in their own homes. Those who want to retain some independence while still ensuring they get the help they need may find assisted living the best fit for senior living.

The Top Cities for Senior Living in Delaware

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

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