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Guide to Senior Living in Minnesota

Like many states in the U.S., Minnesota has an aging population. Almost 16% of the state’s 5.6 million residents are aged 65 and over. That’s almost 900,000 seniors, and that number is expected to hit 1.3 million by 2030. The state is taking steps to prepare for a growing number of older adults, with the Minnesota Board on Aging advocating for senior interests across the state. There is also an increasing number of senior living facilities offering different options to Minnesotan seniors.

The overall cost of living in Minnesota is lower than the national average, and this is reflected in the cost of senior living. For instance, seniors in Minnesota pay an average of $3,800 a month for assisted living, which is lower than the national average. Although there is some variance from city to city, only Minneapolis-Saint Paul has a price higher than the national average. This guide provides information about the cost of care, financial resources available and local programs and agencies that offer support to seniors.

The Cost of Senior Living in Minnesota

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.

The community-based residential care options in Minnesota are mid-range and significantly affordable compared to nursing home care. According to Genworth’s 2021 Cost of Care Survey, the costs of independent living, assisted living and memory care in the North Star State are  comparable to the national averages. Assisted living at $4,508 is expected to be more expensive than independent living, at $2,930, due to the inclusion of complete meals, daily personal assistance and limited health care services.

Nursing home care is the most expensive long-term care option, at $11,601, costing nearly twice the amount of memory care, at $5,635 per month. It’s for those with chronic conditions that require full-time licensed medical care, as opposed to assisted living and memory care, which both provide 24-hour supervision and assistance in homelike settings.


Assisted Living


Memory Care


Nursing Home Care


Independent Living

The Cost of Assisted Living in Minnesota

At $4,508 per month, assisted living in Minnesota is average and similar to the national average ($4,500). Seniors opting for cheaper neighboring states may save over $1,100 per month when choosing assisted living in North Dakota or South Dakota, which have comparable average costs of $3,391 and $3,350, respectively. Iowa at $4,367 is slightly more affordable than Minnesota, while Wisconsin at $4,600 is the most expensive.




The United States






North Dakota


South Dakota

The Cost of Nursing Home Care in Minnesota

Minnesota is among the most expensive Midwestern states for nursing home care at $11,601 for semiprivate accommodations. It comes second to North Dakota, which costs nearly $400 more at $11,978 monthly, and costs almost $3,700 more than the national average of $7,908. The most affordable neighboring states are Iowa at $6,874 and South Dakota at $7,118, saving older Minnesotans around $4,500 to $4,700 per month. Wisconsin, at $9,022, is less pricey than Minnesota by about $2,600.




The United States






North Dakota


South Dakota

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

Low-income seniors may have access to long-term care through the North Star State’s Medicaid program called Medical Assistance (MA). This health care system has dedicated programs for nursing home care and home and community-based services (HCBS) waivers for long-term services and supports provided in private homes, adult day care centers and residential care facilities for assisted living and memory care.

Although MA does not cover independent living, Medicaid-eligible older adults may continue receiving regular health care benefits. The Minnesota Department of Human Services also has HCBS programs for those who are not Medicaid eligible but require long-term care. Room and board are not covered by these programs, but some low-income residents may qualify for the DHS Housing Support program to pay for these costs.

Regardless of eligibility for MA and other DHS long-term care programs, older Minnesotans may take advantage of Long-Term Care Consultation (LTCC) services for free. A long-term care consultant determines a client’s long-term or chronic care needs and their appropriate supportive services. LTCC is also a preadmission requirement for those applying for MA-funded nursing home care and HCBS waivers.

Medicaid Coverage LevelType of Medicaid CoverageEntitlement?*
Assisted LivingPartialMedicaid waiver and health plan optionsNo
Independent LivingNoneN/AN/A
Memory CarePartialMedicaid waiver and health plan optionsNo
Nursing Home CareFullMedicaid and Medicaid health plan optionsYes

*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 Minnesota

Minnesota has flexible MA programs for assisted living and memory care, including an HCBS waiver and voluntary health plan options. These programs do not cover room and board costs, but the DHS Housing Support program may help qualified residents with monthly payment subsidies.

Elderly Waiver (EW)

The EW program covers a range of home and community-based services for Medicaid-eligible seniors in contracted assisted living and memory care facilities. These services include personal care, home health aide support, skilled nursing visits and specialized equipment and supplies. EW also covers case management, respite care, transitional services and nonmedical transportation. Room and board costs shall be paid by the resident or through other forms of assistance.

EW recipients must be:

  • Eligible for MA
  • Aged 65 or older
  • Qualified for nursing facility level of care based on their LTCC assessments

The costs of EW services must also be less than those provided in a nursing home. To apply for either EW, seniors or their families may call the Senior LinkAge Line at (800) 333-2433 or contact a local LTCC office

Minnesota Senior Health Options (MSHO)

MSHO is a comprehensive package of publicly funded health care and long-term care services, combining the Elderly Waiver program and medical benefits under Medicaid and Medicare. In addition to EW services provided in participating residential care facilities, MSHO covers care coordination, doctor’s consultations, dental care, emergency room visits and laboratory services. It may also pay for hospitalizations, nursing home care, prescription drugs and durable medical equipment.

An MSHO enrollee must be:

  • Aged 65 and older
  • Financially eligible for MA
  • Enrolled in both Medicare Parts A and B
  • Living in a county where MSHO health plan choices are offered 

There’s no cost to enroll for MSHO, except for those subject to spending down or copayments. Interested applicants may contact their chosen MSO health plan providers, contact their local county/tribal offices, or call the Senior LinkAge Line at (800) 333-2433. 

Medicaid’s Coverage of Nursing Home Care in Minnesota

Minnesota’s Medical Assistance program for long-term care helps Medicaid-eligible seniors pay for nursing home care. It provides comprehensive coverage for a bundled package of nursing services plus room and board in Medicaid-certified nursing facilities. Physician services, rehabilitative therapies and hospital admissions are not covered. An applicant must undergo a Long-Term Care Consultation (LTCC) or Pre-Admission Screening (PAS) within 60 days before being admitted to a nursing home.

Nursing home care recipients who are financially eligible for MA funding may keep some of their income through deductions, such as a community spouse, long-term needs allowances and remedial care expenses. They’re also exempt from monthly copayments and other deductibles. The retention of assets is determined by DHS through an asset assessment. Long-term care insurance holders may still be eligible for MA-funded nursing home care, and MA may help pay for the recipient’s Medicare or other insurance costs in order to keep their coverage.

Eligibility for Medicaid in Minnesota

Financial eligibility for MA long-term care is subject to income and asset limits for the MA Elderly, Blind and Disabled category. The financial criteria below covers a one-year period ending in June 2022, set at 100% of the federal poverty guideline. For every dependent in the applicant’s household, there’s an additional income limit of $379, and the asset limit goes up by $200. Those earning above the maximum income requirement may still qualify for MA through a spend down.

2022 Minnesota Medicaid Income Limits

Income Limits*Asset Limits
Single Person$1,074$3,000
Two-Person Household
(Only one applicant)
Two-Person Household
(Two applicants)

*per year

An eligible MA recipient for long-term care services must also be:

  • A Minnesota resident
  • Aged 65 or older
  • A U.S. citizen or qualifying non-citizen
  • With a Social Security number (unless there’s a valid exception)

Applying for Medicaid in Minnesota

To apply for MA long-term care programs, older Minnesotans can do the following:

Before You Apply

An important reminder in the MA-LTC application form says that an LTCC assessment must be requested as soon as possible to help the applicant, family members or representative decide on which type of care and services to apply for. The form’s instructions also request copies (not original documents) of the following:

  • Proof of identity and citizenship
  • Proof of enrollment in Medicare and other medical/long-term care insurance
  • Certification of disability (if applicable)
  • Proof of income (e.g. SSI, pensions, Veterans’ benefits, inheritance, asset sales/trade in the last 60 months)
  • Proof of assets (e.g. bank statements, stocks, bonds, retirement accounts, property tax statements, loan balances, mortgage contracts, vehicle titles, insurance policies)
  • Proof of medical expenses (pharmacy copayments, unpaid hospital bills, health insurance costs)
  • Proof spouse income and housing costs

The accomplished MA-LTC may be submitted right away even if the applicant cannot attach all proofs needed. The receiving agency will contact the applicant for any further requirements.

How to Get Help

Applicants who need auxiliary aids and services, such as accessible-format materials, translated documents and language assistance, can call DHS at (651) 431-2670 for toll-free (800) 657-3739. The below resources are also available for further assistance with MA programs.

Senior LinkAge Line(800) 333-2433
[email protected]

Open on weekdays from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., the Senior LinkAge Line is the primary access point for Minnesota’s programs and services for older adults. It connects callers to local aging experts for information and assistance on Medicaid and Medicare benefits, long-term care options, home and community-based services, legal concerns and family support. Online referrals for senior services, preadmission screening and level of care redetermination may be done by or on behalf of applicants/recipients through the SLL referral page.
Long-Term Care Consultation (LTCC) servicesLTCC offices

LTCC assessments are required for MA-LTC applicants and also available to all Minnesota seniors at no charge, regardless of eligibility for Medicaid and other public benefits. This free service helps seniors evaluate their needs and provides information on long-term care, housing and funding options to let them make informed decisions. A visiting social worker or public health nurse conducts a face-to-face consultation and develops a service plan. LTCC is also conducted for nursing home residents who are moving to community-based care.
DHS Housing Support programDHS county and tribal offices

Because MA does not cover room and board in assisted living and memory care facilities, Medicaid recipients and other low-income residents aged 65+ or with functional disabilities may receive monthly assistance with housing payments to avoid risks of nursing home placement or homelessness. Applications may be done online or by completing the downloadable application form for submission to local county/tribal offices.

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

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 Minnesota

As a central access point for all other programs and services that concern older Minnesotans, the Senior LinkAge Line is the state’s primary resource on all Medicare-related matters. This agency is the federally designated unit for all Medicare programs in Minnesota, such as the following.

State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP)(800) 333-2433SHIP offers free, confidential and unbiased health insurance counseling to help Medicare recipients understand their benefits and make informed health care decisions. The program’s state-specific guide called Health Care Choices for Minnesotans on Medicare is published annually to provide up-to-date information on health plan options and help seniors 65+ prepare for Medicare enrollment. Minnesota’s SHIP hotline is open on weekdays from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. 
Medicare Savings Programs(800) 333-2433MSP helps low-income Medicare enrollees pay their Part A and Part B premiums and other out-of-pocket costs. Eligible recipients may also apply for the Extra Help program to receive assistance with paying Medicare Part D premiums, copayments, coinsurance and deductibles. These programs may benefit limited-income recipients with out-of-pocket cost savings of up to $5,000 per year.
Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP)(800) 333-2433SMP advises seniors on how to protect themselves from Medicare fraud and assists them in detecting, preventing and reporting incidents of Medicare errors, abuse and scams. The Senior LinkAge Line receives Medicare fraud reports during regular office hours.

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

Depending on your unique situation, there may be other financial assistance options to partially or fully cover the cost of senior living in Minnesota. 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 Minnesota

Minnesota’s statewide network of senior resources makes it easy for older adults to access local programs and services that support their independence, well-being and personal choices. Seniors and their families may approach any of the organizations below and be properly directed or referred to the right agencies and providers.

Minnesota Board on Aging(800) 333-2433
[email protected]
AAA offices
The MBA is Minnesota’s state unit on aging, and it administers federal and state programs that support its mission of helping seniors live well and age well. Together with the Area Agencies on Aging, it founded the Senior LinkAge Line, which connects older Minnesotans to local programs and services. Its Office of Ombudsman for Long-Term Care advocates the rights of seniors living in residential care and nursing facilities. The MBA also facilitates Indian Elder Coordination services and dementia grants.
Minnesota Department of Human Services – senior programsCounty and tribal DHS offices

DHS assists low-income older Minnesotans in obtaining public benefits and social services, including Medicaid health care and long-term care programs, housing support and general financial assistance. It’s Nursing Home Report Card system lets seniors and families search and compare long- and short-stay nursing facilities in terms of location and various quality measures. Seniors may contact their local DHS offices to request LTCC assessments when applying for MA-funded residential or nursing facility care or call the Senior LinkAge Line to connect them to their respective county or tribal offices.
Area Agencies on Aging(800) 333-2433
Regional and tribal AAA offices
Minnesota’s seven AAAs consist of one tribal and six regional organizations. These agencies contract with local providers to deliver home and community-based services for those who require long-term care. Independent seniors may also benefit from senior center activities, employment/volunteer opportunities, nutrition programs and other resources. The Senior LinkAge Line can connect seniors to their respective AAA offices, which provide free information and assistance on aging-related needs and services. is a comprehensive and organized online resource database with dedicated topic categories for seniors, veterans, people with disabilities, families and other supported sectors. Its Long-Term Care Choices Navigator tool guides seniors and their families in identifying their needs, navigating available long-term care options and building a customized plan of care. Older Minnesotans may also check Focus on Seniors and Focus on Waiver Services pages for financial, health care and housing assistance programs, support groups, and a wide range of free and low-cost services.
Alzheimer’s Association Minnesota-North Dakota Chapter(800) 272-3900
Minnesota chapter offices
ALZ MN-ND offers 24/7 helpline support, scheduled in-depth care consultations, family support groups, education programs, community events and special resources that benefit Minnesota seniors and families affected by dementia.
Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs(888) 546-5838
In addition to LinkVet, which provides online and telephone support services for Minnesota veterans and their dependents, MDVA works with certified County Veterans Service Officers (CVSOs) and Tribal VSOs to provide benefits counseling, claims assistance and referrals to other special services. Benefits such as health care services, disability compensation, pensions and state/county/local financial assistance may help entitled vets pay for long-term care. MDVA also operates five Veterans Homes that provide skilled nursing care and have Alzheimer’s/dementia special care units.

Covid-19 Rules and Restrictions for Minnesota Senior Living Facilities

The following information is based on research done on several government websites, including and These rules apply to nursing homes and other types of senior living facilities. We’ve most recently updated this data on 2/8/2022, 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
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
Are residents of senior living facilities who leave and return required to self-quarantine?No (Conditions Apply)
Are senior living facilities required to cancel all group outings?No
Are residents still eating together in the dining hall?Yes (Conditions Apply)
Are facilities still allowed to host group activities within the community?Yes (Conditions Apply)

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 (Conditions Apply)
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 (Conditions Apply)

Senior Living Laws and Regulations in Minnesota

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 Minnesota are licensed by the Home Care and Assisted Living Program (HCALP), which is part of the Minnesota Department of Health. Facilities must abide by state rules and policies to ensure they provide the best care for those in need.

Scope of Service

A senior living facility in Minnesota may choose which services it provides, but must not accept a person as a resident if they cannot provide the services needed. At a minimum, any facility described as providing senior living must provide the following services:

  • Weekly housekeeping and laundry service
  • Opportunities for socialization
  • Two meals per day
  • Assistance to arrange transportation to medical and social services appointments
  • Health-related services that include medication assistance, assistance with at least three activities of daily living and assessment of physical and cognitive needs by a registered nurse

In addition, senior living facilities must provide a service plan for each resident, detailing the services to be provided, the staff providing services and a schedule for monitoring staff to ensure the resident receives the specified services.

Staffing Requirements

There are no minimum staffing ratios for senior living facilities in Minnesota. However, establishments must have an adequate number of staff members to meet residents’ needs. All facilities must have an on-call registered nurse available at all times for consultation with unlicensed personnel regarding tasks. All staff must meet minimum training requirements based on their role in the facility.

Memory Care Regulation

Senior living facilities with dementia care and secured dementia care units must meet additional requirements relating to the physical environment, staffing and services. Buildings must meet more stringent fire safety regulations as rooms are often secured to prevent wandering. The building must have a secure outdoor space that residents can access without staff assistance.

Staff must receive additional dementia-specific training, and there must be an awake staff member on duty at all times. Dementia care units have to provide a wide range of activities to residents that are designed specifically for people with memory disorders. Care plans for memory care residents must include an individualized activity plan that details how their daily schedule reflects their needs and interests.

Medication Provisions

Not all senior living facilities in Minnesota provide medication management services. The minimum they must offer is assistance with self-administration of medications. For facilities that do offer medication management, policies must be developed under the supervision of a licensed health professional, pharmacist or registered nurse. Each resident must have an individual medication plan with records updated regularly. Medications may be administered by health professionals or unlicensed personnel who have been delegated tasks by a registered nurse.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does assisted living cost in Minnesota?

The average cost of assisted living in Minnesota is $3,800 per month; however, the cost varies widely by region. Seniors in Minneapolis pay the highest price, with an average monthly rate of $4,782, while in Rochester, the cost is just $2,983.

Are there financial assistance programs for assisted living in Minnesota?

Yes, seniors who require financial assistance to pay for assisted living may be eligible for programs through Minnesota’s Medical Assistance program. In particular, the Elderly Waiver helps pay for assisted living care. The state government also runs the Housing Support program, which provides seniors with monetary assistance for room and board, including those in assisted living facilities.

What are “Activities of Daily Living”?

Activities of Daily Living, also called ADLs, are the daily tasks required for someone to care for themselves, such as bathing, grooming, eating and using the bathroom. Assisted living facilities commonly provide assistance with ADLs. Many financial assistance programs also use activities of daily living as part of the eligibility requirements, as needing help with these tasks is a marker of needing nursing home level care.

What types of amenities are commonly in Assisted Living Communities?

Assisted living facilities often provide a range of amenities that contribute to the residents’ comfort and happiness. Amenities that help with health and safety are common, including assistance with activities of daily living, exercise classes and emergency call systems. Most communities also offer programs that entertain, educate and engage residents, such as games, social gatherings and outings. Finally, many have common areas or shared conveniences, such as libraries, pools or beauty salons, that seniors can use.

What is the difference between assisted living and independent living?

The main difference between assisted living facilities and independent living facilities is in the health care and personal services provided. Caregivers in assisted living facilities provide support with activities of daily living, medication management and other services. These aren’t offered in independent living communities, although some do provide housekeeping and maintenance services. Both assisted living and independent living have amenities to enhance the lifestyle of residents, such as common areas, social gatherings and dining options.

Learn More About Senior Living in Minnesota

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

The Top Cities for Senior Living in Minnesota

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

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