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Guide to Senior Living in Nebraska

Nebraska is a heartland American state with vast wheat and corn fields, high prairie and wild country where wild bison still roam. Home to just under 2 million people, nearly 16% of Nebraska’s residents are seniors aged 65 and over. Seniors in Nebraska can explore historic sites from the days of the Oregon Trail and Wild West, as well as breathtaking natural wonders such as Scotts Bluff and Chimney Rock. Though Nebraska does tax Social Security benefits, it still has some of the lowest costs for senior living, and seniors who own property and earn less than $41,101 a year may qualify for a Nebraska homestead exemption, which reduces property taxes for tens of thousands of seniors.

Seniors in Nebraska can find safe and comfortable senior living in the state’s 114 assisted living communities. Room, board and care at these facilities cost on average $232 less than seniors pay across the U.S., according to the Genworth 2019 Cost of Care Survey, but affording care can still be a challenge for seniors on fixed or limited incomes. This guide outlines the cost of care seniors face in Nebraska and some of the most helpful senior living resources seniors can access in the Cornhusker State.

Covid-19 Rules and Restrictions for Nebraska Senior Living Facilities

The following rules and guidelines were obtained from the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) 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 7/13/20, 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?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?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?Yes
Are senior living facilities required to cancel all group outings?Yes
Are residents still eating together in the dining hall?Yes, with social distancing
Are facilities still allowed to host group activities within the community?Yes, with social distancing

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 Nebraska

Assisted living is one of the more affordable senior living options in Nebraska. At an average of $3,819 a month, assisted living is significantly less expensive than both in-home care and home health services, which cost $4,671 and $4,957 a month, respectively. Seniors in Nebraska pay an average of $7,003 a month for a semi-private room in a nursing home. Adult day care is an exception to this rule, costing seniors in Nebraska just $1,820 a month on average.

$3819

Assisted Living

$4671

In-Home Care

$4957

Home Health Care

$1820

Adult Day Care

$7003

Nursing Home Care

The Cost of Assisted Living in Nebraska

Assisted living in Nebraska costs an average of $3,819 a month. This is $232 less than the national average cost of $4,051 a month. Nearby states tend to be more expensive than Nebraska for similar assisted living services. Kansas, for example, averages $4,473 a month, while Colorado and Iowa cost $4,095 and $4,078 a month, respectively. One exception is South Dakota, where room and board plus caregiver services at an assisted living facility averages $3,500 a month, $319 less than Nebraska’s average cost.

$3819

Nebraska

$4051

United States

$4473

Kansas

$4095

Colorado

$4078

Iowa

$3500

South Dakota

The Cost of In-Home Care in Nebraska

For the price of $4,671 a month, senior citizens in Nebraska can receive in-home care to make daily tasks, such as cooking, cleaning and grocery shopping, easier. While the average fee in Nebraska is above the national average of $4,290, it is still cheaper than similar care in Colorado ($4,957), Iowa ($4,767) and South Dakota ($5,339). Seniors who are unable to afford those rates can look to Kansas where the same service is available for just $4,004 a month. 

$4671

Nebraska

$4290

United States

$4004

Kansas

$4957

Colorado

$4767

Iowa

$5339

South Dakota

The Cost of Nursing Home Care in Nebraska

Anyone considering nursing home care in Nebraska will be happy to learn that its monthly rate of $7,003 falls well below the national average of $7,513. Seniors who are willing to move to a neighboring state can find even more affordable options in Kansas, $5,627; Iowa, $6,342; or South Dakota, $6,844. Seniors in Colorado pay significantly more for nursing home care than those in Nebraska at $8,197 per month.

$7003

Nebraska

$7513

United States

$5627

Kansas

$8197

Colorado

$6342

Iowa

$6844

South Dakota

Financial Assistance for Senior Living in Nebraska

Nebraska Medicaid’s Aged and Disabled Waiver

The Nebraska Medicaid Aged and Disabled Waiver is offered by the state Department of Health and Human Services as an alternative to placement in a nursing care home. Seniors who receive Medicaid and meet the program’s eligibility guidelines can apply for a waiver that helps pay the cost of care in a participating senior living community. Waiver benefits include:

  • Public socialization activities
  • Limited shopping assistance
  • Health maintenance and prevention
  • Housekeeping help
  • Weekly laundry services
  • Medication and prescription pickup assistance
  • Personal caregiver service
  • Nonemergency medical and personal transportation

To qualify for an Aged and Disabled waiver, seniors in Nebraska must participate in a state program that offers it, such as Medicaid, and be medically eligible for placement in a nursing home. Income and asset limitations apply for applicants that are similar to those of Medicaid.

Contact: Call 1-402-471-3121 for information about Nebraska’s Aged and Disabled Waiver program. Seniors can also apply for a waiver through a Medicaid caseworker or the admissions staff at a participating senior living facility.

Senior Living Laws and Regulations in Nebraska

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.

Nebraska’s Department of Health and Human Services classifies senior care facilities as senior living communities if they provide lodging, food services, personal care and shopping assistance in a live-in setting for four or more residents. Senior living communities in Nebraska are required to hold a license from the state and submit to regular inspections by the office of Health Care Facilities Licensure. This office also develops regulations and best practices for the state’s residential care homes, which include standards for admission, memory care, medication management and staff requirements.

Admission Requirements

Seniors seeking placement in Nebraska senior living facilities must undergo a pre-admission medical screening for physical and mental health. A doctor’s endorsement is required to certify that the chosen facility is capable of looking after all of the senior’s health needs and of following the developed plan of care. This assessment must be on file at the facility prior to move-in, and repeated annually or after an observed change in the senior’s level of function.

Senior living facilities are not permitted to provide regular nursing care services, though limited services may be provided by a visiting home care nurse. Chronic health conditions that require skilled nursing to manage may not be treated at a senior living facility, nor may the facility perform medical interventions such as IV placement and long-term wound care. Residents with health conditions that are expected to last longer than 60 days must be transferred to a nursing care home for treatment. An exception may be made for residents with end-stage illnesses who are admitted to hospice care.

Memory Care Regulation

Nebraska law regulates Alzheimer’s care in senior living facilities very lightly. Licensed senior living facilities may offer Alzheimer’s care for seniors whose doctors endorse memory care for various forms of dementia. Facilities must carry a special care unit license, maintain a staff-to-resident ratio adequate to provide 24-hour care for all residents and maintain a secure environment that prevents wandering and other behavior. No resident may be kept in a senior living special care unit if they require complex nursing care or if they are potentially a danger to themselves or to others in the facility. Seniors in memory care must periodically have their mental health condition assessed to update their care plan and determine if an alternative placement is required.

Medication Management

Senior living communities in Nebraska may obtain prescription medication from a licensed pharmacy on behalf of residents, in accord with state legal standards for handling controlled substances. Medications must be sealed in dose-calibrated packaging and kept under secure conditions as long as they are present in the facility. No Schedule I drugs may be kept on facility premises, and Schedule II drugs must be handled in accordance with both state law and county medical guidelines.

Residents who are able to self-administer medications may do so to the extent they are able to. Registered nurses and licensed medication aides may administer medications allowed for within their scope as needed and in accordance with residents’ care plans. Nonclinical staff members may assist with preparing medications immediately before they are taken, such as by grinding pills into applesauce or a beverage. Nonmedical caregivers are not permitted to administer medical interventions of any kind, except for CPR and other emergency care they are certified to perform. Residents who require IV administration of medication, nutrition, rehydration therapy or vitamin supplements for extended periods may have to transfer to a nursing care home unless they are under hospice care in the senior living facility.

Staffing Requirements

All senior living facilities in Nebraska are required to have at least one staff member working as a designated administrator. It’s the administrator’s duty to spend sufficient hours on the premises to oversee day-to-day operations and ensure adequate staffing to meet residents’ needs. Administrators must develop and implement care plans and comply with state paperwork requirements. A facility administrator may designate a substitute to manage the facility during off hours, though a manager must be on the premises 24 hours a day. Administrators must be at least 21 years old and pass both a pre-employment background check and complete a minimum of 30 hours of training in a state-approved curriculum before starting work.

Staff members at Nebraska senior living communities must also pass pre-employment background checks and drug screenings. Caregivers must be at least 18 years old and complete a health check prior to starting work. Initial training for caregivers is limited to an orientation that must be completed within two weeks of hire, followed by a continuing requirement for at least 12 hours of annual refresher training. Nebraska does not specify a set ratio of staff to residents, but it’s the responsibility of each senior living facility to employ enough staff members to adequately care for residents during all waking and sleeping hours, as well as to respond to emergencies in a timely manner.

Nebraska Senior Living Free Resources

Nebraska Agencies

Nebraska Medicaid

Nebraska’s Department of Health and Human Services coordinates medical care for many seniors through the state Medicaid program. Medicaid is a joint federal-state program that provides basic health insurance for many low-income seniors in the state of Nebraska. Preventive health services, emergency care and some prescription medications can all be partly or fully paid for by the program. To be eligible for Medicaid, seniors in Nebraska must be aged 65 or over or under 65 with a disability. Income and asset limitations set by the Social Security Administration apply to Medicaid applicants, though eligibility is automatically approved for seniors receiving SSI or SSDI.

Contact: Call the Lincoln office of Medicaid at 1-402-473-7000, or reach out statewide at 1-855-632-7633. Seniors can pick up a Medicaid application online at ACCESSNebraska.ne.gov. Paper application packets may be requested by phone and submitted by mail or in person at any SSA office in Nebraska.

Area Agencies on Aging in Nebraska

Nebraska’s Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) organize community events for seniors throughout the state, focused on local offices. AAA staff members can help seniors find aid programs and volunteer opportunities, as well as free and low-cost supports for seniors going into residential care communities. Seniors can find their local AAA office online.

VA CENTERADDRESSPHONE NUMBER
Lincoln Vet Center3119 O Street, Suite A
Lincoln, NE 68510
402-476-9736 or
402-476-9736
Omaha Vet Center3047 S 72nd Street
Omaha, NE 68124
402-346-6735

Veterans Affairs Offices in Nebraska

Nebraska veterans can get help with finding resources and community events through the Nebraska Department of Veterans Affairs. Honorably discharged veterans from all branches of service, their qualifying spouses and children can get advice, referrals and help locating resources through a county office of the department. VA partners can also help seniors going into senior living find and pay for pre-admission health screenings. Local branch offices can be found online, along with contact information.

Social Security Offices in Nebraska

The Social Security Administration operates several offices near population centers in Nebraska. At these locations, seniors in Nebraska can apply for Medicare and Medicaid, SSI/SSDI and several other forms of aid that can help cover the costs of senior living. Benefits coordinators at SSA offices offer advice and support and can help manage appeals for various programs. Seniors can find a Social Security office near them online.

SOCIAL SECURITY OFFICEADDRESSPHONE NUMBER
Grand Island Social Security Offices115 N Webb Rd
Grand Island, NE 68803
1-877-407-3441 or
TTY: 1-308-385-6453
Lincoln Social Security Offices100 Centennial Mall N Room 240
Lincoln, Nebraska 68508
1-866-593-2880 or
TTY: 1-800-325-0778
Norfolk Social Security Offices605 Iron Horse Dr Suite 1
Norfolk, Nebraska 68701
1-855-207-7082 or
TTY: 1-800-325-0778
North Platte Social Security Offices300 E 3rd St Room 204
North Platte, Nebraska 69101
1-866-830-0668 or
TTY: 1-308-534-0441
Omaha Social Security Offices604 N 109th Ct Old Mill Centre
Omaha, Nebraska 68154
1-866-716-8299 or
TTY: 1-800-325-0778
Scottsbluff Social Security Offices415 Valley View Dr.
Scottsbluff, Nebraska 69361
1-800-297-4291 or
TTY: 1-800-325-0778

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does assisted living cost in Nebraska?

Assisted living in Nebraska costs seniors in the state an average of $3,819 a month. This is more than $200 a month less than the $4,051 national average. It’s also somewhat less than the average monthly cost in nearby states, such as Colorado and Iowa, where monthly costs average $4,095 and $4,078, respectively. Assisted living in Nebraska is still somewhat more expensive than in South Dakota, where costs average $3,500 a month.

Does Nebraska Medicaid pay for assisted living?

Medicaid in Nebraska pays much of the cost of basic health services for seniors. This does not include the board and care costs of assisted living communities. Medicaid does, however, pay for many of the expenses seniors in assisted living need help with, such as medication and medical supplies.

Does Medicare pay for assisted living?

Original Medicare offers coverage for qualifying seniors who need short-term inpatient care and many outpatient services. It does not pay for long-term nonmedical care options, such as assisted living. Many seniors opt into a Medicare Advantage, or Part C, plan. Details of these plans vary, and many include services not provided by Original Medicare. Plan details vary, so it’s best to consult with a plan representative before moving into assisted living.

What are “activities of daily living”?

Activities of daily living are regular chores that personal caregivers help seniors perform. These activities include personal hygiene, grooming, personal care and light housekeeping. Meal preparation, shopping and transportation are also sometimes included as activities of daily living.

What is the difference between assisted living and nursing homes?

Assisted living differs from nursing home care principally in the level of medical care offered in each. Skilled nursing care often includes IV treatments, blood glucose monitoring and administration of prescription drugs. Residents of assisted living communities do not typically receive medical treatment in their community, though personal caregivers do assist with activities of daily living.

The Top Cities for Senior Living in Nebraska

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

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