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Guide to Senior Living in Rhode Island

In 2019, Rhode Island had nearly 1.1 million residents. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 17% of those residents were aged 65 and older. By 2040, the percentage of state seniors is expected to increase to nearly 25%. Although Rhode Island doesn’t have special exemptions for retirement income, its desirable location on the Atlantic Coast makes it a great place to retire. From the grand mansions of Newport to the Rhode Island School of Design Museum, the Ocean State has plenty to offer active seniors.

Although Rhode Island is one of the least expensive New England states, it does have a high cost of living, which affects the average cost of care for seniors in the state. For instance, state seniors can expect to pay an average of $5,199 per month for assisted living, which is more than $1,000 per month higher than the national average. This guide provides an overview of the cost of senior care in Rhode Island, along with information about some of the programs available to help offset these costs.

The Cost of Senior Living in Rhode Island

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.

Note: Memory care is typically provided in communities licensed as assisted living facilities, and in general, costs 20-30% more than standard assisted living services. No authoritative cost data is available for this type of care, so we estimated memory care rates by adding 25% to assisted living fees in the Genworth 2021 Cost of Care Survey.

Per the 2021 Genworth Cost of Care Survey, average rates for long-term care in Rhode Island are generally higher than nationwide figures. Depending on their health care needs, budgets and preferences, Rhode Island’s seniors have varied options for long-term care.

Older adults who require high-level care and frequent skilled nursing services might be good candidates for nursing facility care. Seniors who need help with some activities of daily living can obtain necessary support in an assisted living community. Memory care, which is typically provided in assisted living facilities, provides specialized care for individuals with dementia. Active adults who don’t need day-to-day assistance may appreciate the low-maintenance lifestyle of independent living.

Because nursing homes provide the highest levels of care, this is the most expensive type of long-term care, with Rhode Island seniors typically paying $9,429 per month. With strict regulations and caregivers trained in dementia-related issues, memory care costs $8,533 per month. There’s a price drop for assisted living care, with a median monthly cost of $6,826. In Rhode Island, independent living is the least costly senior care option, with average rates of $4,437.  


Assisted Living


Independent Living


Memory Care


Nursing Home Care

The Cost of Assisted Living in Rhode Island

Average rates for assisted living in Rhode Island are $6,826 per month. This is more than $2,000 pricier than the national average of $4,500. At $4,580 per month, nearby New York shares a similar cost to the U.S. median. Seniors in Rhode Island generally pay more for assisted living than their peers in neighboring states. On average, the same type of care costs $6,500 in Massachusetts and $5,129 in Connecticut.


Rhode Island


The United States






New York

The Cost of Nursing Home Care in Rhode Island

Nursing home care in Rhode Island also runs higher than the nationwide norm, with monthly rates of $9,429 and $7,908, respectively. However, nursing facility costs are generally lower than in nearby states. At around $13,764 per month, Connecticut has the greatest price difference. In New York, nursing home residents typically pay $12,775 each month, while average rates in Massachusetts are $12,623.


Rhode Island


The United States






New York

Can You Use Medicaid to Pay for Senior Living in Rhode Island?

The costs of long-term care can quickly mount up. Luckily, Rhode Island has financial assistance programs that can help seniors meet their care costs. Many older adults obtain Medicaid funding to close the gap between what they can afford and the total cost of care.

Rhode Island Medicaid, known as Medical Assistance, covers nursing home care through Long-Term Services and Supports (LTSS), which operates under the Global Consumer Choice Compact 1115 Waiver.

Since Rhode Island combined the state Medicaid plan and previous waivers within the broad Global Consumer Choice Compact Waiver, some residents of assisted living and memory care communities may be eligible for at least partial assistance via Long-Term Services and Supports

In common with most states, Rhode Island Medicaid doesn’t cover any costs of independent living.    

Medicaid Coverage LevelType of Medicaid CoverageEntitlement?* 
Assisted LivingPartialMedicaid WaiversYes
Independent LivingNoneN/AN/A
Memory CarePartialMedicaid WaiversYes
Nursing Home CareFullMedicaid Waivers Yes

*Note: Entitlement programs mean that everyone who qualifies will receive coverage and be accepted into the programs. If the program is not “entitlement,” then participant caps could be in place, and there may be a waiting list. 

Medicaid’s Coverage of Assisted Living & Memory Care in Rhode Island

Rhode Island’s Medicaid program pays for assisted living and memory care for eligible seniors via Long-Term Services and Supports (LTSS).

The program uses two levels of care categories to determine the setting where seniors can receive services:

  • Highest – Older adults classed as having the highest level of care needs, traditionally those who would need institutionalized care, can choose whether to receive assistance in a nursing home or in a home- or community-based setting such as an assisted living facility.  
  • High – Seniors assessed as having high levels of care needs are eligible for home- and community-based care, such as assisted living communities and memory care units.

Medicaid doesn’t cover the costs of room and board for those in assisted living or memory care communities. However, it covers a range of supportive services based on individual needs. Services may include:

  • Case management
  • Personal care and assistance with day-to-day activities
  • Rehabilitation therapies
  • Physician-ordered nursing services
  • Personal emergency response systems
  • Medical supplies and equipment
  • Meal preparation
  • Laundry and housekeeping
  • Transportation

Assisted living services can only be provided by licensed facilities that are certified to take part in the LTSS program.  

As well as in-state residency and citizenship requirements, eligibility for LTSS depends on the financial and functional medical level of care criteria being met.

Seniors can apply for Long Term Services and Supports by completing form DHS-2 and the accompanying cover sheet and returning them to:

RI Department of Human Services
P.O. Box 8709
Cranston, RI 02920-8787

Forms are also available in Spanish and Portuguese.  

Medicaid’s Coverage of Nursing Home Care in Rhode Island

Statistically, three in five nursing facility residents in Rhode Island receive Medicaid assistance. In Rhode Island, nursing home Medicaid is provided by Long Term Services and Supports to eligible seniors who meet the highest level of care needs. Functional needs are determined by assessment. Qualifying individuals can opt to receive care and services in a home- or community-based setting.  

For nursing home residents, Medicaid covers skilled nursing care, around-the-clock monitoring, rehabilitation therapies, assistance with personal care and daily activities of living, medication management and specialized medical supplies and equipment. It also covers the costs of room and meals.  

Those in nursing homes must spend their entire income on care costs, except for Medicare premiums and a personal needs allowance of $50 per month. Medicaid will pay any additional amounts needed to cover the full cost of care.

Eligibility for Medicaid in Rhode Island

To apply for long-term care Medicaid in Rhode Island, seniors must satisfy financial limits. People applying alone, whether from a one- or two-person household, have an annual income limit of $30,276. For couples applying jointly for Medicaid, the income limit doubles to $60,552 per year. Asset limits also apply. Applicants cannot have more than $4,000 in countable resources. For couples where only one party applies for Medicaid, the non-applicant spouse has an enhanced asset limit of $137,400.     

2022 Rhode Island Medicaid Income Limits 

Income Limits*Asset Limits
Single Person$30,276$4,000
Two-Person Household(Only one applicant) $30,276 for applicant$4,000 for applicant$137,400 for non-applicant
Two-Person Household(Two applicants) $60,552$8,000

*per year

In addition to satisfying financial criteria, applicants must also:

  • Satisfy functional medical need requirements
  • Be a Rhode Island resident
  • Be a U.S. citizen, national or legal alien

Applying for Medicaid in Rhode Island

Individuals may conveniently apply for regular Medicaid in Rhode Island through the HealthSourceRI website. The site is available in English and Spanish. Those who prefer to apply over the telephone can call (855) 840-4774, while those who prefer to apply in person may visit their local DHS office.

Alternatively, seniors can download an application form and take it to a local DHS office or mail it to:

RI Department of Human Services
P.O. Box 8709
Cranston, RI 02920-8787

Note: Seniors must complete an additional cover sheet when applying for Long Term Services and Supports. Also, LTSS applications cannot be completed online.        

Before You Apply

Applicants should prepare all necessary documents and information to make the application process easier and improve the chance of a quick decision. These include:

  • Proof of identity and citizenship status
  • Social Security number
  • Up-to-date bank statements
  • Details of health and life insurance policies
  • Proof of all sources of income
  • Details of all assets
  • Medical bills
  • Proof of residency in Rhode Island
  • Veteran discharge papers (if applicable)  

How To Get Help

Navigating the Medicaid system can feel overwhelming. Fortunately, Rhode Islanders can access several sources for information and assistance.

 ContactWhat You Should Know
State of Rhode Island Department of Human Services(855) 697-4347Seniors can contact a trained advisor through DHS’s call center for general information about Medicaid and the application process. Advisors can also provide updates on pending claims. If a Medicaid interview is required, individuals can arrange an appointment via the call center. The line is staffed Monday to Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.
HealthSourceRI(855) 840-4774Seniors can browse pertinent information and apply for Medicaid through HealthSourceRI’s website. They may also speak with a telephone advisor if they have any questions or need help applying for coverage.
Medicare-Medicaid Enrollment Supports(888) 884-8721Provided by Rhode Island Office of Health Aging, the Medicare-Medicaid Enrollment Supports (MME) program provides tailored confidential counseling to those who are eligible for both Medicaid and Medicare to help them understand the options available to them. Telephone advisors can also assist with applications.

Can You Use Medicare to Pay for Senior Living in Rhode Island?

Unfortunately, Medicare does not cover the cost of assisted living, independent living, or memory care. Unlike nursing homes, these care types are not considered to be “clinical settings” and so are not eligible for Medicare coverage. That being said, those who live in these communities can still use Medicare to cover the cost of approved medications, doctor visits, medical equipment, etc.

When it comes to nursing home care, it gets much more complicated. Medicare does provide limited coverage for a qualified stay in a nursing home,but there are strict rules and requirements of which you should be aware. This benefit is available to seniors who have been hospitalized for at least three days, excluding the date of discharge.

Once you’ve met the hospitalization requirement, Medicare will pay for up to 100 days in a skilled nursing facility (per benefit period). While the first 20 days are covered in full, there is a daily coinsurance rate that must be paid starting on day 21. After day 100, seniors are responsible for the entire cost.

Medicare CoverageMedicare Coverage DurationCoinsurance Requirement?
Assisted LivingNoneN/AN/A
Independent LivingNoneN/AN/A
Memory CareNoneN/AN/A
Nursing Home CareLimited100 Days Per Benefit PeriodYes – After 20 Days

What Nursing Home Care Services Does Medicare Cover?

Medicare covers a number of specific services, including:

  • Meals
  • A semiprivate room
  • Medications
  • Skilled nursing services
  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Speech therapy
  • Audiologist care
  • Medical supplies
  • Medical social services
  • Nutritional counseling
  • Ambulance transportation

What Nursing Home Care Services Aren’t Covered by Medicare?

Medicare does not cover long-term custodial care that addresses seniors’ day-to-day needs. This includes help with daily activities, such as bathing, dressing and using medical equipment.

Rhode Island seniors can obtain Medicare-related information and assistance from various sources. These programs and organizations help individuals compare health insurance policies, save money on premiums and co-pays, understand coverage, sign up for insurance and report fraud.  

 ContactWhat You Should Know
State Health and Insurance Assistance Program(888) 884-8721The State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) is one of several programs provided by The Point, the state’s Aging and Disability Resource Center. Trained volunteers offer free impartial Medicare counseling, with information tailored to individual circumstances. SHIP counselors assist seniors in finding affordable health insurance coverage and help people enroll in Medicare, the Medicare Savings Program and Medicaid. The Point also provides the Senior Medicare Patrol program, which educates older adults on Medicare fraud and scams.   
Social Security Administration(800) 772-1213Seniors can contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) to check if they are eligible for Medicare, sign up for health insurance plans, order replacement Medicare cards and report changes in personal circumstances. Advisors are available at local SSA offices, or individuals can call the hotline or use the online contact form.
Medicare.Gov(800) 633-4227The federal Medicare website provides comprehensive information for anyone researching Medicare options, including eligibility and costs, Medicare Advantage Plans, drug coverage and Medigap. There’s also a search tool for finding care providers and suppliers of medical equipment. Seniors can sign up for coverage online and obtain advice via the helpline or the 24/7 live online chat facility. 

Are There Other Financial Assistance Options for Senior Living in Rhode Island?

Depending on your unique situation, there may be other financial assistance options to partially or fully cover the cost of senior living in Rhode Island. Below, we cover some of the common ways that seniors can make senior living options such as assisted living or memory care more affordable.

How to Get StartedWhat You Should Know
Aid and AttendanceApply online at you are a veteran and you receive a VA pension, you may also be eligible for the Aid and Attendance benefit. This benefit takes the form of a monthly cash allowance that you receive in addition to your standard pension. This benefit is used by veterans who need long-term care services, including care received at an assisted living facility.
Reverse MortgagesResearch and learn about the different types at you own a home, you may be able to use a reverse mortgage to access some of the equity in your home. Like traditional loans, reverse mortgages do need to be repaid with interest, typically within 12 months, so seniors should carefully weigh this option alongside other financing methods.
Long-Term Care (LTC) InsuranceLearn about how to receive LTC insurance benefits at those who currently need assisted living will typically not be eligible, if you purchased an LTC insurance policy in the past, you may be able to use it to help pay for assisted living. While most policies cover at least a portion of the cost, you still need to check the specific terms of your policy.

Free Senior Living Resources for Seniors in Rhode Island

Rhode Island’s elderly citizens can take advantage of diverse supportive programs and services designed to help them as they age. This table contains free and low-cost resources available to seniors throughout the state.

 ContactWhat You Should Know
Rhode Island Office of Healthy Aging(404) 462-3000Rhode Island’s designated state unit on aging, the Office of Healthy Aging maintains six statewide offices where older adults can seek information and aging-related advice. Seniors can also connect with a knowledgeable advisor through the phone line. The office connects older and disabled people with appropriate services for their needs, including benefits advice, options counseling, health education and nutrition programs.   
Alzheimer’s Association Rhode Island Chapter(800) 272-3900The nonprofit Alzheimer’s Association operates across the country and has a local chapter in Rhode Island. A valuable resource for seniors with dementia and their family members, the organization provides education and information via its website and 24/7 helpline. There are also virtual support groups and free online webinars.
Senior CentersLocation DependentRhode Island has more than 30 senior centers to support older adults. Exact services vary among centers but generally include programs related to health, wellness and fitness, financial optimization, care options, senior nutrition and transportation. Centers also provide a safe, inclusive environment where older adults can socialize and join diverse enrichment and recreational activities.  
Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program(888) 351-0808The Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program ensures that seniors and their families are aware of their rights when living in long-term care communities and nursing homes. Individuals can report any concerns or issues, and the ombudsman will investigate and help residents resolve any issues. The program also actively advocates for senior rights and seeks to improve living conditions and the quality of life for the aging population.  
Elderly Transportation Program(401) 462-3000Managed by Rhode Island Office of Healthy Aging. The Elderly Transportation Program provides subsidized door-to-door transportation for seniors aged 60 and above who have no other mode of transportation. There is no income limit to receive services. Transportation is provided to routine medical and treatment appointments, congregate meal sites and adult day care centers. The office also oversees the free or low-cost bus pass program for low-income adults aged 65 or older.  
Help RI Law: Rhode Island Legal Services(800) 662-5034Rhode Island Legal Services (RILS) provides free legal advice and representation to low-income individuals. Assistance is available in civil law matters, such as housing, public benefits, debt, health insurance, health care, disability rights and discrimination.

Covid-19 Rules and Restrictions for Rhode Island Senior Living Facilities

The following information is based on research done on several government websites, including and These rules apply to nursing homes and other types of senior living facilities. We’ve most recently updated this data on 2/13/2022, but since COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving pandemic, contact your local senior living facility or Area Agency on Aging for more specific and up-to-date information.

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?Not Available*
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?Not Available*
Are residents relied on to screen themselves and self-report potential coronavirus symptoms?Not Available*
Are staff members required to take residents’ temperatures?Not Available*
Are residents being tested for coronavirus?Not Available*

Senior Living Laws and Regulations in Rhode Island

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 State of Rhode Island Department of Health is responsible for regulating senior living facilities. Every facility must obtain a license from the Center for Health Facility Regulation and renew that license annually. If a facility doesn’t comply with any of the rules outlined in the Rhode Island Code of Regulations, the Department of Health has the authority to take disciplinary action.

Memory Care Regulation

Rhode Island offers a special licensing level for facilities that provide memory care to patients with dementia. To provide this type of care, a facility must obtain an F1-M1 license and increase staffing levels to ensure residents with dementia receive the level of attention they need. Each facility must also disclose, in writing, the services it provides. The disclosure must describe the facility’s philosophy and mission, explain how patients are assessed and describe the living environment. It must also include the activities available to residents, explain how families can get involved in supporting residents and provide information on how much the program costs.

Memory care facilities must follow several additional requirements. For example, the facility must have at least one registered nurse on duty at all times who has experience providing care to seniors with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Menus for residents of the memory care unit must be developed by a registered dietitian. The facility must also provide a secure environment for residents, which may include secured perimeters, locked units and other security measures to prevent wandering and elopement.

Staffing Requirements

Senior living facilities must have staffing levels sufficient to help residents achieve the highest possible levels of physical, social and mental well-being. Each facility must be managed by an administrator who has been certified by the Rhode Island Department of Health. The administrator’s duties include maintaining adequate staffing levels, complying with local and state regulations, establishing the facility’s policies and overall operations.

Every facility must have a minimum of one employee on duty at all times who is at least 18 years old, designated in charge of the residence and capable of communicating effectively with firefighters and other emergency personnel. All employees must receive at least two hours of training on fire prevention, abuse and neglect reporting and other designated topics within 10 days of hire. Employees who provide personal care to residents must receive 10 hours of training within their first 30 days of employment. Topics to be covered during this training include food safety, resident safety, assistance with medications and cultural differences.

Abuse and Neglect Reporting

Employees of senior living facilities are required to report suspected abuse, mistreatment, exploitation or neglect within 24 hours of becoming aware of the issue. Reports must be made to the facility’s director and the Rhode Island long-term care ombudsman via the Alliance for Better Long-Term Care at 1-401-785-3340. Once a staff member makes such a report, the facility’s director is responsible for conducting a thorough investigation.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does assisted living cost in Rhode Island?

According to Genworth Financial’s 2019 Cost of Care Survey, seniors can expect to pay an average of $5,199 per month for assisted living in Rhode Island. Costs tend to be higher in the Providence region.

Does Rhode Island Medicaid pay for assisted living?

Some seniors may qualify for a Medicaid waiver known as the Global Consumer Choice Compact Waiver, which can be used to pay for assisted living and other services for seniors. Applicants must be at least 65 years old and meet certain income requirements to qualify for this waiver.

What are activities of daily living?

Activities of daily living are the basic activities people typically perform on a daily basis. They include bathing, using the toilet, getting dressed and preparing meals. Seniors who need help with these activities may qualify for assisted living or other services.

What types of amenities are commonly in assisted living communities?

Many assisted living facilities have game rooms, computer centers, private dining rooms, salon services and other amenities to make the environment more pleasant for residents.

What is the difference between assisted living and nursing homes?

The main difference between a nursing home and an assisted living facility is the extent of care provided to residents. Assisted living facilities may provide help with medication management and some activities of daily living, but they don’t provide ongoing medical care. These facilities also have a welcoming, homelike environment. In contrast, nursing homes provide medical care in a setting that looks similar to a hospital.

Learn More About Senior Living in Rhode Island

For more information about specific types of senior living in Rhode Island read our Guide to Assisted Living and Independent Living.

The Top Cities for Senior Living in Rhode Island

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

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