Guide to Independent Living in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania is a very welcoming state for older adults, which at times goes out of its way to encourage seniors to retire within its borders. Social Security is not taxed in the state, for instance, and payments from other types of retirement such as 401(k)s and IRAs are likewise exempt. Seniors can find more to like in the Keystone State, such as the wide range of climates that bring warm summers and mild winters to much of the region. With much to attract them, it’s not surprising that nearly 19% of Pennsylvania’s 13 million residents are seniors aged 65 and over.
Active seniors have a lot of options for independent living in Pennsylvania. Senior communities are located throughout the state and offer convenient access to dining, shopping and health services that are geared toward the needs of seniors. Safe 55+ independent living communities frequently have accepting pet policies and encourage family visits among residents that help keep seniors engaged with their private support networks.
This guide describes independent senior living in Pennsylvania. It goes over resources seniors can use to promote a healthy, independent lifestyle, and it includes figures for average costs to help seniors and their families make good choices about their care. Furthermore, this guide includes a helpful list of free and discounted resources seniors can use to live an active and fulfilling life in an independent living community of their choice.
How Much Does Independent Living Cost in Pennsylvania?
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 as reported in the 2021 Genworth Cost of Care Survey.
Seniors in Pennsylvania pay an average of $2,665 a month for independent living in the state. This is $260 a month lower than the national average cost of $2,925. Costs for independent living in Pennsylvania are generally lower than those in surrounding states. New York, for example, averages $2,977 a month for independent living, while New Jersey and Maryland cost more, at $4,222 and $3,185 a month, respectively.
The United States
The Cost of Independent Living in Pennsylvania’s Top Cities
Independent living costs vary enormously throughout Pennsylvania. Location within the state is one of the major factors driving the difference. In Philadelphia, for example, independent living costs run to an average of $3,695 a month, while similarly high prices can be found in both Allentown ($3,110) and the state capital of Harrisburg ($3,138). Costs are lower in Pittsburgh ($2,113) and in Altoona ($2,620), while the historic town of Gettysburg averages $2,935 a month for independent senior living. Costs are close to their lowest in Scranton, where seniors pay an average of $1,869 a month.
The Cost of Independent Living vs. Other Types of Care
Independent living isn’t the right choice for every senior. In some cases, another type of living arrangement can be more appropriate, and the costs of each type of care can vary by a lot. Adult day health care in Pennsylvania, for example, costs seniors an average of $1,625 a month, while homemaker and home health services both cost $4,957 a month. Assisted living costs an average of $4,100 a month in the state, while seniors can expect to pay $10,403 a month for a semiprivate room in a nursing facility.
Adult Day Health Care
Home Health Aide
Assisted Living Facility
Nursing Home (semiprivate room)
Does Medicare or Medicaid Cover Independent Living in Pennsylvania?
The short answer is no, Medicaid and Medicare do not cover the cost of living in an independent living community. That being said, those who need help with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), may be able to take advantage of financial assistance programs in Pennsylvania to partially or fully cover the cost of care in Assisted Living. For more information about financial assistance for those who need help with ADLs, read our guide to Assisted Living in Pennsylvania.
For more information about other ways to make Independent Living more affordable, such as retirement funds, the sale of a home, etc, read the section below.
How to Make Independent Living More Affordable in Pennsylvania
Seniors have several options to help pay the costs associated with independent living. Apart from cash savings and liquidation of retirement accounts, many seniors opt for these financial services:
- Reverse mortgage: A reverse mortgage is a special type of loan geared toward the needs of seniors aged 62 and older that pays out based on the equity in the senior’s home.
- Equity lines of credit: An equity line of credit is a revolving credit line that uses a home as collateral, which can be used to pay for independent living expenses.
- Long-term care insurance: Long-term care insurance can help independent seniors pay for needed assistance with housekeeping, transportation and meals.
- Life insurance: Many seniors’ life insurance policies contain a cash out option that allows seniors to receive the present value of their policies.
- Annuities: Annuities are regular payments (usually from investments) that can take the place of income from work during retirement.
Free Independent Living Resources for Seniors in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania’s seniors have a wide range of resources available to help them live independently in their own communities. The resources listed in this table offer free support to help seniors stay independent and actively improve their overall quality of life.
|Area Agencies on Aging||(717) 541-4214||The 52 Area Agencies on Aging located throughout the state of Pennsylvania help seniors stay independent for as long as possible in their own communities and homes. Acting as a portal for free and low-cost resources seniors need to thrive, AAAs offer public benefits counseling, information and referrals for social support services and care placement, extensive health education relating to the needs of seniors and caregiver resources to encourage high-quality care. Pennsylvania AAAs also operate a free ombudsman’s program to accept and mediate complaints about long-term care facilities regarding neglect and elder abuse.|
|PennDOT Transportation||(717) 412-5300||The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation encourages seniors to stay active outside their homes with free transportation via PennDOT. Local bus services accept PennDOT endorsements for free rides, and discounted disabled ride service is available for seniors who have difficulty using the public mass transit system. This program provides curb-to-curb transportation on request and is available to seniors in the state aged 65 and over.|
|Office for Veterans Affairs||(717) 861-8910||The Office for Veterans Affairs helps honorably discharged veterans in Pennsylvania find and apply for benefits they are entitled to, including cash aid and health services. Seniors can ask their local OVA for case manager support to help locate benefits they are eligible for, and to get help with appeals for denial of benefits elsewhere.|
|Older Pennsylvanians Legal Assistance Program||(717) 783-1550||The Older Pennsylvanians Legal Assistance Program dispenses free legal advice from lawyers with experience in elder law. Low-income Pennsylvania seniors can appeal to the program for help with advance directives, family law cases and stewardship matters, including powers of attorney and medical decision-making. The center also offers support for seniors dealing with discrimination and other civil issues.|
|Local Senior Community Centers||(717) 783-1550||Pennsylvania’s many senior community centers routinely host events, classes and other activities that bring the local senior community together for social and care-related issues. Centers host recreational events, community meals and other social events that are generally either free or offered at a low cost.|
COVID-19 Rules and Restrictions for Pennsylvania Independent Living Communities
The following rules and guidelines were obtained from dhs.pa.gov, as well as other state-level government sites. Among others, these rules apply to independent living communities and assisted living facilities.
This data has been most recently updated on 2/13/2022, 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|
|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|