Guide to Senior Living in Montana
Montana had 1,0068,778 residents in 2019, and according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 18.7% of those residents were 65 or older. The Montana Department of Commerce expects the number of seniors in Montana to grow by 104.8% between 2000 and 2030, which will increase the demand for senior care and related services. Seniors have plenty of reasons to retire in Montana, from the 6.9% cap on state income tax to a landscape dotted with mountains and lakes.
Although Montana has a higher cost of living than many states, the average costs of senior care are lower than the national average. Montana seniors can expect to pay an average of $3,820 per month for assisted living while the national average is $4,051 per month, for example. This guide provides an overview of the costs of senior care in Montana and how those costs compare to those of nearby states, as well as state and local resources that may be able to help Montana seniors cover the costs of Senior living.
Covid-19 Rules and Restrictions for Montana Senior Living Facilities
The following rules and guidelines were obtained from Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services with heavy reliance on CDC-published guidance website, as well as other state-level government sites. Among others, these rules apply to nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
This data has been most recently updated on 7/19/20, 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 (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 (conditions apply)|
|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?||NA|
|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?||Yes|
|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|
|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 Montana
Montana seniors have several options for care, ranging from adult day care to full-time care in a nursing home. Assisted living is one of the most popular options, and it costs less than in-home care or nursing home services. Here are the average monthly costs for senior care in Montana:
Home Health Care
Adult Day Care
Nursing Home Care
The Cost of Assisted Living in Montana
Genworth Financial’s 2019 Cost of Care Survey revealed that seniors in Montana pay an average of $3,820 per month for assisted living. This is about $230 per month less than the national average of $4,051. The costs of care vary significantly between Montana and nearby states, however. Seniors can expect to pay slightly less in Wyoming and Idaho and approximately $320 and $415 less in South Dakota and North Dakota, respectively.
The Cost of In-Home Care in Montana
Montana seniors who want to admire the state’s gorgeous views from their own home may opt for in-home care as opposed to a nursing home or an assisted living community. In-home care costs $4,576 in The Treasure State, which is $286 above the national average of $4,290. This is significantly less expensive than similar care in Wyoming ($5,339), North Dakota ($5,148) and South Dakota ($5,339). While Montana’s price is reasonable compared to some neighboring states, people looking for a better price can look southwest in Idaho, which averages $4,195 monthly for in-home care.
The Cost of Nursing Home Care in Montana
Nursing home care in Montana is an affordable option for seniors in need of 24/7 medical assistance due to its price point of $7,459 a month, which sits below the national average of $7,513. Seniors who find Montana too expensive are in luck as both Wyoming and South Dakota offer less expensive nursing home care rates of $7,346 and $6,844, respectively. Care in Idaho is $465 more per month than in Montana. The least feasible option is North Dakota with a staggering $11,875 in monthly fees.
Financial Assistance for Senior Living in Montana
While Medicaid doesn’t usually cover the costs of senior living, they offer The Big Sky Home and Community-Based Services Program waiver, which is designed to help seniors and individuals with disabilities maintain their dignity and independence by covering the cost of assisted living, adult foster care or in-home health services. To qualify for the waiver, an individual must meet the Medicaid eligibility guidelines. Applicants must also require a nursing facility level of care, which means they’re unable to live on their own and would need to be admitted to a nursing facility if they could not receive community-based services under this waiver program.
Contact: Seniors with questions about the Big Sky Home and Community-Based Services Program should call the Montana Public Assistance Helpline at 1-888-706-1535.
Senior Living Laws and Regulations in Montana
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.
The Montana Department of Public Health protects seniors by overseeing senior living facilities throughout the state. Every senior living facility must obtain a license from DPH and remain in compliance with all relevant regulations. If DPH conducts an inspection and determines a senior living facility is not in compliance, it has the authority to take administrative action.
Scope of Care
At a minimum, a Montana senior living facility must provide recreational activities, 24-hour supervision, personal services, assistance with self-administration of medication, assistance with arranging medical appointments and assistance with activities of daily living that do not require the presence of a licensed health care professional. Senior living facilities may also offer medication management, but they’re not required to do so.
The Department of Public Health has not established a minimum staffing ratio for Montana senior living facilities. However, state regulations indicate that a facility must have a sufficient number of qualified staff members on duty during each shift to meet the scheduled and unanticipated needs of residents. A facility must have enough staff members on hand to respond to emergencies, maintain order, ensure the facility is clean, prepare meals, assist with medications, provide housekeeping services and ensure residents receive an adequate level of supervision.
Montana senior living facilities are permitted to hire volunteers, but volunteers shouldn’t be counted when determining whether a facility has a sufficient number of qualified staff on hand to meet the needs of residents.
Reporting Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation
Montana has mandatory reporting requirements for employees of senior living facilities, nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. If a staff member suspects that a resident has been abused, neglected or exploited, a report must be made to the Montana Long-Term Care Ombudsman at 1-800-332-2272.
Each report must include the name and address of the resident, the name and address (if known) of the person who allegedly committed the abuse, a description of the incident, the name and address of the person making the report and any information about prior acts of abuse or neglect committed by the same person. Anyone who’s required to submit a report and fails to do so could face up to six months in jail or a $500 fine.
Montana Senior Living Free Resources
The Aging and Disability Resource Center arose from a partnership between Montana and two federal agencies: the Administration on Aging and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. ADRC helps seniors in Montana access needed services and make choices that can help them remain healthy and independent. Referrals, information and counseling are provided by trained information specialists who have in-depth knowledge of the resources available to Montana seniors.
To qualify for assistance from the Aging and Disability Resource Center, an individual must be at least 60 years old or be over the age of 18 and have some type of disability. Information specialists can help seniors learn more about senior living, skilled nursing, hospice care, senior centers and other resources available throughout the state.
Contact: Call the Department of Health and Human Services Senior and Long-Term Care Division at 1-406-444-4077.
The Montana Aging Services Bureau oversees a variety of agencies and programs designed to protect the interests of seniors. These programs are available to Montana residents who are at least 60 years old. The Aging Services Bureau produces a quarterly newsletter for older adults, partners with other agencies to develop new programs and offers information on respite care, legal advice and other services that may be helpful for seniors.
Contact: Call the Senior and Long-Term Care Division at 1-406-444-4077.
Elder Montana Advocacy fights for the rights of Montana seniors by drafting resolutions and bills that are presented to members of the Montana Senate and House of Representatives. Legislators introduce these bills and debate them until they are passed, rejected or tabled. Elder Montana Advocacy can protect the rights of senior living residents by drafting resolutions and bills designed to implement new licensing requirements and creating harsher penalties for facilities that violate state regulations.
Contact: To suggest an issue for Elder Montana Advocacy to address, write to 1030 17th Ave. SW, Great Falls, Montana 59404.
Area Agencies on Aging in Montana
Montana has 10 Area Agencies on Aging to help seniors identify local services that can help them improve their well-being and maintain their independence. These agencies have been designated by the Aging Services Bureau to provide information and support to older residents of Montana. For seniors interested in residential care, Area Agencies on Aging can provide information about senior living facilities, nursing homes and group homes. Referrals are also available for legal services, meal delivery and other services aimed at helping seniors improve their lives.
Contact: Call the Montana Area Agencies on Aging toll-free hotline at 1-800-551-3191.
Veterans Affairs Offices in Montana
Montana Veterans Affairs serves as a statewide network of resources for discharged veterans, their spouses and their dependents. The agency maintains a crisis hotline, provides continuing education and other forms of assistance for veterans, operates veterans’ cemeteries throughout the state and helps veterans access federal benefits granted by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
One of those federal benefits is the Aid and Attendance Benefit, a pension supplement that may be used to defray the costs of senior living and other forms of long-term care. Seniors who qualify for the standard VA pension may qualify for the supplement if they meet one of the following criteria:
- Limited eyesight
- Confined to bed for most of the day due to an illness or disability
- Requires assistance with some activities of daily living
- Living in a nursing home due to a disability that resulted in a loss of function
Social Security Offices in Montana
The Social Security Administration administers three programs that may help seniors pay for senior living. Many seniors receive Social Security payments, guaranteeing them a fixed amount of income each month. These payments are available to seniors who paid Social Security taxes while they were working. Monthly payment amounts depend on how much the senior used to earn and how early a senior elects to start receiving payments. Seniors who retire early will receive less money per month than seniors who wait until their full retirement age.
The Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income programs are available to seniors who meet strict requirements regarding income, assets and/or disability status. SSDI payments are available to seniors who have a disability that is expected to last for more than one year and prevents them from engaging in meaningful work. SSI is for low-income citizens who have limited financial resources. Funds received from these programs may be used to pay for some of the costs associated with residing in a senior living facility.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does assisted living cost in Montana?
Montana seniors can expect to pay an average of $3,820 per month for assisted living, which is lower than the national average. Residents of Missoula and Billings should expect to pay more than seniors living in Great Falls or Helena.
Are there financial assistance programs available for assisted living in Montana?
Yes. Montana’s Medicaid program offers a waiver known as the Big Sky Home and Community-Based Services Program. The waiver is available to Montana residents who qualify for Medicaid and require a nursing facility level of care.
What are activities of daily living?
Activities of daily living are routine activities related to personal hygiene, bodily functions and nourishment. Some of the most important ADLs include eating, bathing and using the toilet. Performing these activities is an important part of remaining independent.
What is the difference between assisted living and independent living?
One of the main differences between assisted living and independent living is the level of support provided to residents. Independent living facilities are designed to help active seniors maintain their privacy and independence. These facilities don’t provide personal care or medical services. Assisted living facilities provide extra support for seniors who need help with medication management or some of the activities of daily living. Residents of assisted living facilities have more contact with staff members than the residents of independent living communities do.
Who should consider assisted living?
Assisted living is a good option for seniors who can’t stay in their homes but don’t need the skilled nursing care provided in a nursing home. Not only do seniors in assisted living facilities receive help with tasks, such as meal planning and medication management, but they also have many opportunities to form new friendships. Seniors who need more help than their children or spouses can provide may also be good candidates for assisted living.
The Top Cities for Senior Living in Montana
Learn more about the cost of senior living in the top Montana cities. Additionally, find reviews and information about assisted living facilities and other senior living communities across the state.