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Guide to Senior Living in Florida

With its extended hot summers and short, snow-free winters, the Sunshine State has long been a popular retirement destination. One in five residents of Florida, or about 4.4 million Floridians, is aged 65 and older, while nationwide just under one in six U.S. residents is aged 65 and older. The Florida Department of Elder Affairs predicts that the number of Floridians aged 60 and older will rise to 7.37 million by 2030 and reach 8.1 million by 2040.

This guide offers in-depth information about the cost of senior living care in Florida, how costs here compare to nearby states, and local and statewide resources that help seniors.

Covid-19 Rules and Restrictions for Florida Senior Living Facilities

The following rules and guidelines were obtained from the Florida Division of Emergency Management website, as well as other state-level government sites. Among others, these rules apply to nursing homes, assisted living facilities and other long-term care 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?No (see executive order for details) 
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?Yes
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?NA
Are residents still eating together in the dining hall?Yes, at the facility’s discretion
Are facilities still allowed to host group activities within the community?Yes, at the facility’s discretion

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?Yes
Are residents being tested for coronavirus?Yes

Paying for Senior Living in Florida

The Cost of Senior Living in Florida

Seniors in Florida who require care will find plenty of options to meet their specific needs, preferences and budget. The least expensive senior care service is adult day care, while a private room in a nursing home facility is the most expensive option. Here is what Florida seniors can expect to pay for monthly care services:

$3500

Assisted Living

$4004

In-Home Care/Homemaker

$4195

Home Health Care/Home Health Aide

$1473

Adult Day Care/Adult Day Health Care

$8547

Semiprivate Nursing Home Care

The Cost of Assisted Living in Florida

At an average cost of $3,500 per month, assisted living in Florida costs $551 less than the national average of $4,051. Costs in neighboring Georgia and Alabama are slightly lower, at $3,335 per month and $3,250 per month respectively. Further north, average monthly assisted living costs in South Carolina are the same as Florida at $3,500, and $500 higher in North Carolina at $4,000 per month.

$3500

Florida

$4051

United States

$3335

Georgia

$3250

Alabama

$3500

South Carolina

$4000

North Carolina

The Cost of In-Home Care in Florida

In-home care is a popular option for seniors who want to continue living at home but who can’t manage household tasks like they did in the past. This kind of care averages $4004 per month in The Sunshine State. That is not too far off from the U.S. average of $4,290, and the averages in Georgia and South Carolina, both $3,813, but it is higher than two nearby states. Mississippi seniors pay $3,432 per month for in-home care. This is similar to the cost in Alabama at $3,394.

$4004

Florida

$4290

United States

$3432

Mississippi

$3394

Alabama

$3813

Georgia

$3813

South Carolina

The Cost of Nursing Home Care in Florida

When assisted living and in-home care are no longer options and consistent supervision and medical care are necessary, Florida seniors and their families may turn to nursing home care. In Florida, this type of skilled care 24/7 comes at a higher cost than the national average and adjacent states. While the difference between the Florida average, $8,547, and the U.S. average, $7,513, is $1,034 a month for a semiprivate room, the greatest difference between Florida and Alabama is more than double that at $2,159. 

$8547

Florida

$7513

United States

$6844

Mississippi

$6388

Alabama

$6684

Georgia

$7123

South Carolina

Financial Assistance for Senior Living in Florida

Statewide Managed Medicaid Care, Long Term Care Program

The Statewide Managed Medicaid Care, Long Term Care program is Florida’s Medicaid program for qualified seniors who require care services and supports. This program replaces all previous Home and Community-Based Medicaid Waivers in the state. It provides funding for a range of services, such as personal care, home modifications and seniorliving. The goal of the SMMC-LTC is to provide participants with the help they need to remain as independent as possible.

To qualify for SMMC-LTC funded services and supports, seniors must be 65 or older and be eligible for Medicaid. They must also be assessed as needing the level of care normally provided in a nursing home by the Comprehensive Assessment and Review for Long-Term Care Services (CARES) program. Eligible applicants may qualify for seniorliving facility services, personal care, respiratory and occupational therapy as well as intermittent and skilled nursing. The goal of the SMMC-LTC is to help seniors remain in the least restrictive setting that safely meets their needs.

Contact: Florida seniors can learn more about the SMMC-LTC program and request a CARES assessment by contacting their local Area Agency on Aging/Aging and Disability Resource Center. A list of the 11 ADRCs in the state is available on the Department of Elder Affairs website, or seniors can call the Florida Elder Helpline at 1-800-96 ELDER (1-800-963-5337).

VA Aid and Attendance Benefit or Housebound Allowance

Florida veterans and their survivors who qualify for the regular VA pension may be eligible for additional benefits through the VA Aid and Attendance benefit or the VA Housebound Allowance. These two enhanced VA pension programs provide qualified beneficiaries with a higher monthly pension amount that can be used towards the cost of senior living care.

To qualify for Aid and Attendance, applicants must:

  • Need help from another person to perform one or more activities of daily living, such as dressing, grooming, toileting and adjusting a prosthetic device
  • Be bedridden except when receiving treatment for a medical condition
  • Reside in a nursing facility as a result of physical and/or mental incapacity
  • Have eyesight of 5/200 or worse when wearing corrective lenses or have severe concentric contraction of the visual field tested at 5 or fewer degrees

To qualify for Housebound, applicants must have a permanent disability rated at 100% by the VA. This disability must leave the applicant largely confined to their principal residence. Applicants may also qualify for Housebound if they have one disability rated at 100% and at least one additional disability rated at a minimum of 60%.

As of 2020, the maximum annual benefit available to a qualified veteran with no dependents is $22,939 under Aid and Attendance and $16,805 under Housebound. Note that applicants who already receive VA disability benefits are not eligible for Aid and Attendance and Housebound.

Contact: To learn more about Aid and Attendance and Housebound, Florida veterans or their survivors can contact their local VA center or their county’s Veterans Affairs office.

SeniorLiving Laws and Regulations in Florida

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 the state of Florida are licensed and inspected by the Agency for Health Care Administration. This government agency works to ensure compliance with ALF licensing requirements, standards of care and staffing standards.

In Florida, senior living facilities may be awarded either a standard license or one of three types of specialty licensing, including Limited Nursing Services (LNS), Extended Congregate Care (ECC) or Limited Mental Health (LMH). These special designations allow an ALF to provide specific medical and non-medical care beyond what is provided in a standard ALF.

Admissions Requirements

Regular senior living facilities are residential care facilities that provide accommodation, meals and non-medical care services to seniors and adults with disabilities. Some medical care services are provided at senior living facilities with specialty licenses.

To qualify for admission to an senior living facility, Florida seniors must meet the following criteria:

  • Be free from any signs and symptoms of a communicable disease that could be transmitted to other residents or staff through casual contact
  • Be able to perform activities of daily living with some assistance
  • Be capable of self-administering prescription and over-the-counter medications with some assistance as needed
  • Not require treatment provided by a licensed mental health professional on a 24-hour basis
  • Be free from serious medical conditions that require the use of tube feeding, intermittent positive pressure breathing therapy or oral or tracheotomy suctioning
  • Be free from stage 3 or stage 4 pressure sores
  • Not be bedridden
  • Not present a danger to themselves or others

By law, all seniors must complete a medical assessment prior to, or within 30 days of, admission to a senior living facility. Seniors who do not meet the medical requirements for residency in an ALF must be transferred to a facility that provides the appropriate level of care.

Medication Management

Unlicensed staff working in Florida senior living facilities with a standard ALF license can help residents self-administer regularly scheduled medication. Staff are permitted to assist by managing weekly pill organizers, reading labels, opening medication containers and providing medication reminders. Unlicensed staff cannot assist with the administration of injections or PRN (as needed) medications. Before an unlicensed staff member can assist with self-administration of medication, they must complete at least 4 hours of initial medication safety training and at least 2 hours of training each year afterward.

Senior living facilities with a limited nursing service license can provide all the services permitted under a standard ALF license plus any nursing service permitted within the scope of a nurse’s license. This may include the administration of medications by licensed nursing staff. senior living facilities with an extended congregate care license can provide all of the above services when delivered under the direct supervision of a registered nurse.

Memory Care Regulations

Senior living facilities that provide specialized care for residents with Alzheimer’s disease or other conditions that cause memory loss must have 24-hour staffing. Facilities with 17 or more residents must have at least one awake staff on duty overnight, while facilities with fewer than 17 residents must either have an awake staff on duty at all times or have mechanisms in place to monitor resident safety such as motion-activated sensors.

Memory care staff are required to complete at least four hours of specialized training in dementia care within 30 days of commencing employment in an ALF and complete an additional four hours within nine months. Staff who continue working in the facility beyond nine months are required to complete four hours of continuing education in dementia care every year.

SeniorLiving Facility Staffing Requirements

All senior living facilities in Florida must have an administrator who is responsible for facility operation, maintenance, staffing and resident care. Administrators must complete at least 26 hours of core training approved by the Department of Elder Affairs and pass a competency test within 90 days of commencing work as an administrator.

Senior living facilities must employ direct care staff who have completed approved first aid and CPR training, and at least one staff member must be physically present in the facility at all times. Staff must also complete at least 1 hour of in-service training in infection control and 3 or more hours of training on resident behavior and assisting with activities of daily living.

LNS and ECC-licensed senior living facilities must also employ or contract with a licensed nurse who provides skilled nursing services to residents in accordance with the respective license. In ECC-licensed senior living facilities, the licensed nurse must perform monthly nursing assessments on all residents, prepare resident service plans and oversee the day-to-day management of the ECC program.

Senior living facilities must maintain adequate staffing to either provide or arrange for resident services in accordance with each resident’s needs and care plan.

Florida SeniorLiving Free Resources

Florida Agencies

Florida Department of Elder Affairs

The Florida Department of Elder Affairs is the state government agency that focuses on the well-being, safety and independence of residents aged 60 and older. The Department oversees a range of programs and services, such as the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program, CARES (Comprehensive Assessment and Review for Long-Term Care Services) and the Office of Public and Professional Guardians. The Department acknowledges the unique needs and preferences of older adults. It prioritizes programs and services designed to delay or prevent the placement of elders in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

Anyone can contact the Florida Department of Elder Affairs for information on local and statewide programs and services for seniors.

Contact: Call 1-800-96 ELDER (1-800-963-5337) to connect with the Florida Elder Helpline.

Area Agencies on Aging in Florida

The Department of Elder Affairs administers statewide programs through Florida’s network of 11 Area Agencies on Aging, which are known as Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRCs). Florida’s ADRCs provide seniors, caregivers and family members with free information on state and federal benefits as well as long-term care options. ADRCs also maintain up-to-date information on statewide, regional and local programs and services for seniors.

Contact: Call Florida’s Elder Helpline at 1-800-96 ELDER (1-800-963-5337) or check the ADRC page on the Department of Elder Affairs website to locate the nearest ADRC office.

Veteran Affairs Offices in Florida

Veterans, their spouses and survivors may be eligible for assistance with senior living costs through the VA Aid and Attendance benefit or the VA Housebound allowance, which are two VA enhanced pension programs. Information on these programs, as well as VA health care, medical transportation and support programs, is available at Veterans Affairs offices located throughout Florida.

Social Security Offices in Florida

Social Security can provide eligible seniors with income that may be used towards the cost of senior living and related expenses. In Florida, seniors can locate their local Social Security office through an online search or by calling 1-800-772-1213.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does assisted living cost in Florida?

The average monthly cost of assisted living in Florida is $3,500, but actual costs vary depending on the location and facility. Costs are highest in The Villages at $5,375 and lowest in Sebring at $2,836 per month. Costs are close to the state average in Gainesville ($3,463), Lakeland ($3,498) and Port St. Lucie ($3,500).

Does Florida Medicaid pay for assisted living?

Yes. Some Medicaid-eligible seniors who require long-term care are eligible for Medicaid funding for assisted living through the Florida Statewide Medicaid Managed Care, Long Term Care Program. This program is administered through the 11 Area Agencies on Aging/Aging and Disability Resource Centers located throughout the state.

What are “Activities of Daily Living”?

Activities of Daily Living are daily self-care activities that an individual needs to complete in order to manage their basic physical needs. Also known as ADLs, these tasks include getting dressed, using the toilet, eating, moving around one’s home, bathing, showering and handling dental care. As people age, they can have difficulty performing ADLs independently, which is why senior care facilities often provide assistance with one or more ADLs.

What types of amenities are commonly in Assisted Living Communities?

As with costs, there is a wide range of amenities offered in Assisted Living Communities throughout Florida. Most assisted living facilities feature multiple common areas, such as dining rooms, libraries and outdoor spaces that are available to all residents. Recreational activities, such as organized games, exercise classes and social groups, are also offered. Some communities have in-house beauty salons, private dining rooms, guest suites, swimming pools and complimentary local transportation.

Who should consider assisted living?

Assisted living is geared towards seniors who struggle to maintain their independence in the community due to age-related loss of functioning. Seniors who have trouble managing day-to-day tasks, such as cooking, cleaning and self-care, and who would like to live in a community setting where caregivers are always available may want to consider assisted living. Elders who do not want to live alone following the loss of a spouse or who need to move into a barrier-free setting may also find that assisted living is a good option.

The Top Cities for Senior Living in Florida

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

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