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Guide to Senior Living in New York

The Empire State is one of the largest U.S. states by population. New York serves as home to over 19 million individuals, around half of whom live in the greater New York City area. Outside of the concrete jungle, the landscape is dotted with forests, rural communities and smaller cities, creating a unique dichotomy of lifestyles.

Just over 16% of the New York state population is over age 65, equating to 3.1 million residents. As the baby boomer generation continues to age, the number of seniors is growing as well; over the last decade, the population of seniors has risen 26%. Unfortunately, as a state with one of the highest costs of living anywhere in the nation, New York seniors can expect to pay more than the national average for senior living care. With Senior  living facilities averaging $4,630 per month, and some areas going far beyond this, calling New York home in retirement isn’t always affordable.

For seniors who need support, however, numerous programs provide a way to save money on senior living. This guide offers an overview of senior living in New York state, including costs of care, financial resources and local programs that can help seniors.

Covid-19 Rules and Restrictions for New York Senior Living Facilities

The following rules and guidelines were obtained from the New York Department of Health website, as well as other state-level government sites. Among others, these rules apply to adult care facilities (ACFs).

This data has been most recently updated on 7/10/20, 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?NA
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?NA
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?Not unless they came into known contact with coronavirus
Are senior living facilities required to cancel all group outings?Yes
Are residents still eating together in the dining hall?No (some exceptions may apply)
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 tested for Coronavirus?Yes (twice weekly)
Are staff members and contractors being screened for elevated temperatures?NA
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 New York

The Cost of Senior Living in New York

While assisted living is a great option for seniors who need daily support, it’s not the only option for senior care in New York. From home health care to nursing homes, there are plenty of options at varying price points for New Yorkers to consider.


In-Home Care


Assisted Living


Home Health Care


Adult Day Care


Nursing Home Care

The Cost of Assisted Living in New York

According to Genworth Financial’s 2019 Cost of Care Survey, New York is one of the more expensive states in the nation for senior care. A month in an assisted living facility costs an average of $4,630 — around $600 higher than the national average of $4,051. The Northeast is an expensive region of the country, so many nearby states are priced at a higher rate as well. In spite of this, the state average is actually cheaper than most of its neighbors.


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The Cost of In-Home Care in New York

While some older adults prefer assisted living, others are not ready to leave their homes where they’ve made lifelong memories. In-home care services make aging at home possible by reliving seniors of the burden of household chores and errands. The average monthly cost of this type of care in New York at $4,767 is about $480 more than the national average of $4,290. Two out of four surrounding states have higher monthly costs and the other two have lower monthly costs, placing New York right in the middle of its New England neighbors. 


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The Cost of Nursing Home Care in New York

When skilled nursing care is necessary on a 24-hour basis, New Yorkers may decide to explore nursing home facilities. Like in-home care, the cost for this type of close supervision in New York ($11,613) is also midrange compared to states around New York. However, rates in The Empire State are significantly higher than the national average ($7,513) for nursing home care as are the rates in surrounding states. More affordable nursing home care is available in Vermont and Pennsylvania, $10,722 and $9,733, respectively. 


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Financial Assistance for Senior Living in New York

New York State Assisted Living Program

For seniors living in New York, the Assisted Living Program (ALP) can be an important way to save on costs of care. As a program specifically for assisted living support, this government-sponsored service is an effort to reduce the need and cost for nursing home care.

To qualify for the NYS ALP, seniors must be medically eligible for placement in a nursing home but not to the point of requiring continual nursing care or potentially endangering other ALP residents. There’s no requirement to be on Medicaid to enroll in ALP, but around 85% of program participants use Medicaid. Medicaid users must have their ALP request approved by the Local Social Services District. Income limits for the ALP are higher than standard state Medicaid, with $1,477 as the cap for a single applicant and $2,954 for couples.

Services covered under ALP include care, room and board, housekeeping, home health aids, nursing care, physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, medical supplies and case management, encompassing most of the assistance seniors need. However, ALP is limited to 4,200 residents of New York, which can create program waiting lists during high demand times.

Contact: To learn more or to apply, contact the New York State Department of Health.

New York State Medicaid

New York Medicaid is a government program that provides support to low-income residents. Several programs through New York’s Medicaid can help cover the costs of Senior living for low-income New Yorkers. For most New Yorkers, the Managed Excess Income Program is the most valuable option.

The Managed Excess Income Program (MEIP), also known as the Spend-Down or Surplus Income Program, can qualify those who are over the income threshold for Medicaid support based on the severity of medical bills. For example, if you’re deemed to have excess income according to standard Medicaid policies but have bills in excess of this amount, you may still qualify for Medicaid support. Eligibility is based on a determined monthly excess income amount, which is calculated by taking gross monthly income and applying certain deductions based on personal circumstances. New Yorkers interested in the Managed Excess Income Program should contact their local department of social services.

Those who don’t qualify for MEIP can still get help with medical bills from Medicaid. Enrollment in New York is based on a cap of a non-Modified Adjusted Gross Income per month of $875 and an asset limit of $15,750.

Contact: To apply for Medicaid, New Yorkers should follow the stated instructions and submit all required forms as outlined. The New York State Department of Health can assist with questions and resources.

Senior Living Laws and Regulations in New York

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. 

In New York state, the health and wellness of seniors in senior living is a top priority. The rules and regulations facilitate this, supporting the maintenance of clean, safe and sanitary centers for seniors.

Admissions Requirements

Assisted Living Residences are available for those over the age of 55 who need assistance with activities of daily living but don’t require specialized medical care, continual nursing or are bedfast. An Enhanced Assisted Living Residence, a Special Needs Assisted Living Residence or, potentially, a traditional nursing home might better serve those who fall under these circumstances.

Scope of Care

As a resident of an ALR, a senior should expect to receive help with daily tasks such as using the bathroom, bathing, grooming, eating, dressing and housekeeping duties like cleaning and laundry. Residents can also receive help with medication management and basic medical needs. ALRs must provide three meals a day to residents.

All residents in ALRs must have an individualized service plan that includes feedback from the resident or their caregiver, a home health agency if necessary and the resident’s physician. This plan must be reviewed and renewed every six months and is required to address medical, physical, mental and nutritional needs.

Memory Care

Any ALR that offers memory care for dementia patients must have licensed practical nurses, registered nurses and home health aides on staff. Facilities must fully train staff on topics that cover the needs of dementia patients, including behavioral and mental symptoms, emotional changes and methods for meeting patient needs. Dementia units must be fully self-contained with a delayed-egress system on all doors to the unit, windows and access points to enclosed courtyards.

Medication Management Rules

Whenever possible, ALR residents should take their medication without assistance. However, staff may assist residents by providing reminders, identifying medication, storing medication, providing supplies required to take medication and helping residents get in the proper position for medication administration.

Staffing Requirements and Regulations

All senior living residences need to have an administrator, resident aides and a case manager on staff. Case managers must be available between 20 and 40 hours a week to work with residents on any issues related to housing, local services, access to activities and emergency care. A resident aide must be available in the facility 24 hours a day.

Staff working in an ALR must take extensive training classes prior to hiring and during the course of employment. Administrators who aren’t licensed nurses are required to take 60 hours of continuing education every two years. Resident aides are required to have 40 hours of initial training and 12 hours a year in continuing education.

Background checks conducted by the Division of Criminal Justice Services, including a comprehensive criminal history and fingerprinting, are required for hiring.

New York Senior Living Free Resources

New York Agencies

New York State Office for Aging

The New York State Office for Aging is a dedicated resource provided by the state government for aging adults. This agency offers a wide range of support for seniors throughout the state, providing information and access to resources that include connections to local support services and health insurance counseling. Department services also include help with caregivers, housing, health, employment, transportation, food and meals, and elder abuse reporting.

The New York State Office for Aging is a free service for all seniors in the state of New York. The agency also works closely with NY Connects, a free resource program that links individuals with unbiased information about options for support, such as area nonprofits.

Contact: The New York State Office for Aging is available by phone at 1-844-697-6321 or email at [email protected].

Area Agencies on Aging

Area Agencies on Aging, or AAAs, are regional organizations established by the state of New York to provide local senior resources. Unlike the state-wide services of the New York State Office for Aging, AAAs operate in much smaller footprints to offer more dedicated information relevant to the local community. AAAs can assist with a wide range of services, including counseling on Medicare enrollment, connections with local financial assistance charities and organizing access to food and transportation. These agencies are free to seniors living in each AAA’s stated service area.

Veterans Affairs Offices in New York

Veterans and their surviving spouses living in New York who need additional financial support may receive support through the Veterans Affairs Offices in New York. These locations work specifically with veterans, connecting them with essential forms of aid, including the VA Aid and Attendance Benefit program, which can provide additional help in paying for the cost of Senior living. VA offices are located throughout New York.

Social Security Offices in New York

For those who don’t have another source of income, Social Security can be a valuable resource for covering some or all of the cost of Senior living care. Seniors with questions about their Social Security income or who would like more information can contact any of the field offices located throughout the state.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does assisted living cost in New York?

In New York, the average per month cost for assisted living is $4,630. This amount is higher than the national average of $4,051. However, some areas in the state are far more expensive than the state average. For example, New York City and the surrounding areas cost around $6,950 monthly.

Are there financial assistance programs for assisted living in New York?

Yes, there are financial assistance programs for assisted living available in New York. These programs include the Assisted Living Program (ALP), a waiver program that provides care coverage for those who require long-term care but choose not to live in a nursing home. Residents can also consider some of the benefits available through the New York Medicaid program, including the cost-saving measures through the Managed Excess Income Program.

What types of care are provided by Assisted Living Facilities?

Care provided by assisted living facilities is intended to be supportive but not a substitute for around-the-clock nursing care. Activities of daily living, or ADLs, are a primary focus in these communities, including tasks like feeding, bathing, dressing, eating and cleaning.

What is the difference between assisted living and nursing homes?

The primary difference between nursing homes and assisted living facilities relates to the level of medical care provided. In an assisted living facility, caretakers are usually limited to medication management and basic first aid. When patients need more comprehensive care, such as ventilator support or wound care, a nursing home is far more appropriate.

Who should consider assisted living?

Assisted living is best for seniors who require regular assistance with activities of daily living but don’t need the additional support of a full nursing home facility. Assisted living facilities can be a good alternative to home health care aides for those who don’t want to stay in their own home.

The Top Cities for Senior Living in New York

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

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