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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.

Covid-19 Rules and Restrictions for Minnesota Senior Living Facilities

The following rules and guidelines were obtained from the Minnesota Department of Health website, as well as other state-level government sites. Among others, these rules apply to nursing homes, assisted living, certified board and care.

This data has been most recently updated on 7/20/20, 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, outdoors (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?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
Are residents of senior living facilities who leave and return required to self-quarantine?Yes, if leaving for non-medical reasons
Are senior living facilities required to cancel all group outings?Yes
Are residents still eating together in the dining hall?No
Are facilities still allowed to host group activities within the community?No

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, when symptomatic or exposed
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, when symptomatic or exposed

Paying for Senior Living in Minnesota

Senior living is a popular option for care in Minnesota, but there are other senior living choices available that may make more sense, depending on a person’s budget and circumstances. Adult day care is often the most affordable choice but does not suit everyone, while in-home care helps seniors stay in their own homes.


In-Home Care


Assisted Living


Home Health Care


Adult Day Care


Nursing Home Care

The Cost of Assisted Living in Minnesota

According to Genworth Financial’s 2019 Cost of Care Survey, the average cost of assisted living in Minnesota is $3,800. This is slightly lower than the national average for assisted living, which is $4,051. Assisted living costs in nearby states vary widely, with Minnesota costs near the middle. Iowa is slightly more expensive, and the average assisted living cost in Wisconsin is $550 higher than in Minnesota. However, assisted living in North and South Dakota is more affordable.




United States


North Dakota


South Dakota





The Cost of In-Home Care in Minnesota

When it comes to in-home care expenses, Minnesota is the most expensive state in the surrounding area with an average monthly cost of $5,529, which is $1,239 above the national average. North and South Dakota come closest to this price, with average fees of $5,148 and $5,339. Wisconsin and Iowa, each with an average cost of $4,767, are $762 cheaper than Minnesota.




United States




North Dakota


South Dakota



The Cost of Nursing Home Care in Minnesota

Nursing home care can be expensive, and average monthly fees in Minnesota are $2,563 higher than the national average of $7,513. Minnesota has some of the most expensive care in the surrounding area, second only to North Dakota’s average of $11,875 per month. Minnesota, at $10,076, is $1,803 more expensive than Wisconsin, and $3,192 – $3,734 more expensive than South Dakota and Iowa.




United States




North Dakota


South Dakota



Financial Assistance for Senior Living in Minnesota

Minnesota Medical Assistance

Minnesota’s Medicaid program is known as Medical Assistance (MA). It provides financial assistance to help low-income residents pay for health care and the costs associated with long-term care, such as assisted living. MA has a specialized program for seniors who need the level of care provided by a nursing home but prefer to remain living in the community. This is the Elderly Waiver program, and it can assist with care costs related to senior  living, though it does not cover the cost of room and board. Not all senior  living facilities accept residents receiving Elderly Waiver assistance and other facilities limit the number of Elderly Waiver recipients.

Seniors applying for MA must meet income and asset guidelines that are based on the federal poverty guidelines. Single seniors applying for regular MA can have an income of up to $1,041. The income limit rises to $2,349 a month for waiver programs such as the Elderly Waiver. For married couples, those limits increase when both people are applying. In addition, applicants can have assets of up to $3,000, although certain assets, such as a car or primary home, are not included in the calculation. People with higher incomes may still be able to access the payment, especially if they have high medical costs.

Contact: Seniors can call (651) 431-2670 or (800) 657-3739 to request an application form or print a form from the MA website. Applications are also available at the local county or tribal office. For help applying, call the Senior LinkAge Line on (800) 333-2433 or visit their county or tribal office.

Housing Support Program

Minnesota’s Housing Support program is one of the few in the country that helps pay for room and board costs. It is generally used by people in adult foster care homes, but can also help pay for assisted living and supervised senior living. In addition, the program assists with rent and other expenses for people who choose to remain in their own homes and have a lease. Money from the program goes directly to the service provider. This program doesn’t pay for any care costs, but people receiving the Elderly Waiver may also be eligible for Housing Support.

To be eligible for the program, applicants must meet both functional and income requirements. Seniors must be 65 or over and unable to live independently. People under 65 may be eligible if they have a condition that limits their self-sufficiency. Seniors receiving SSI are automatically eligible for the program. The SSI limits income to $771 a month and assets must be below $2,000. Married couples have slightly higher limits. People not receiving SSI may still be eligible if they qualify for General Assistance, which means an income of less than $904 per month. People with high recurring medical costs may still be able to access the program, even if they don’t meet financial eligibility guidelines.

Contact: Seniors can apply for the program online. More information can be found at the local county or tribal office or by calling the Senior LinkAge Line on (800) 333-2433.

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.

Minnesota Senior Living Free Resources

Minnesota Agencies

Minnesota Department of Human Services

The Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) provides assistance to the state’s vulnerable residents by making sure their basic needs are met. The DHS is the largest state agency and directs one-third of the state budget. The department’s mission for seniors is to help them live as independently as possible and remain connected to the community.

The DHS manages a range of programs that provide health care and economic assistance for older adults, including help with nutrition, mental health and housing. There is a range of other services aimed at seniors, such as protection for vulnerable adults, assistance with gambling problems and the Indian Elder Desk. Anyone can contact the DHS for information about programs or to be connected to local services.

Contact: Call the DHS Information Desk on (651) 431-2000 or (800) 627-3529 for TTY service for more information, or email [email protected].

Area Agencies on Aging in Minnesota

There are seven Area Agencies on Aging (AAA) in Minnesota that help older adults live well as they age. The agencies connect seniors with services and advocate for issues that impact the aging population. Each works in a limited region so they can provide seniors with relevant local information. Most AAAs offer information services and assistance with applying for benefits programs and choosing senior living facilities. Many also have classes that help seniors age well, such as information about chronic conditions and exercise programs designed to prevent falls.

Arrowhead Area Agency on Aging221 W 1st St
Duluth, MN 55802
(218) 722-5545
Central Minnesota Council on Aging250 Riverside Avenue North, Suite 300
Sartell, MN 56377
(320) 253-9349
Land of the Dancing Sky AAA109 South Minnesota Street
Warren MN 56762-1428
(218) 745-6733
Metropolitan Area Agency on Aging2365 North McKnight Rd., Ste 3
St. Paul MN 55109
(651) 641-8612
Minnesota Indian AAA15542 State Hwy 371 NW
Cass Lake, MN 56633
(218) 335-8585 or(888) 903-8543
Minnesota River Area Agency on Aging201 N Broad Street, Suite 102
Mankato MN 56001
(507) 387-1256
Southeastern Minnesota AAA2720 NW Superior Dr., Suite 102
Rochester MN 55901
(507) 288-6944
Chippewa Tribe Elder Services15542 State Hwy. 371 NW
Cass Lake, MN 56633
(218) 335-8586

Veterans Affairs Offices in Minnesota

The Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs runs five Veterans Homes that provide services including memory care and rehabilitation that may be of interest to elderly veterans or their spouses looking for senior living. There is also a range of financial, housing, health and other programs available to the state’s veterans. County Veteran Services Officers (CVSOs) can assist veterans in finding and applying for benefits and services. CVSOs are located in every county and can be contacted on 1-888-546-5838.

Social Security Offices in Minnesota

Social Security can provide an income for seniors that can be used to help cover the costs of senior living. There are many local Social Security offices in Minnesota to assist seniors in identifying and accessing resources.

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.

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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