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Guide to Senior Living in South Carolina

South Carolina has a population of over 5 million people and a large senior community that makes up nearly 18% of its residents. The South Carolina Department on Aging projects that the state’s senior population will double over the next decade, leading to a greater need for senior care options. Currently, the state is home to over 500 senior living facilities, which are officially licensed as community residential care facilities, and accommodate up to 22,000 seniors.

The overall cost of living in South Carolina is modest compared to the U.S. average. As a result, senior living is relatively affordable. For instance, South Carolina seniors pay $3,500 per month for assisted living, which is about 15% lower than the U.S. average of $4,051. This guide covers the cost of senior living in South Carolina and how it compares to surrounding states, as well as the local and state resources that are available to seniors seeking this type of care.

Covid-19 Rules and Restrictions for South Carolina Senior Living Facilities

The following rules and guidelines were obtained from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control 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 7/15/20, 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, closed window visits only (availability varies by facility)
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?No
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?Yes, but they are discouraged from doing so
Are residents of senior living facilities who leave and return required to self-quarantine?No
Are senior living facilities required to cancel all group outings?Yes
Are residents still eating together in the dining hall?No
Are facilities still allowed to host group activities within the community?No, except 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?As testing is 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?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 (testing availability varies)

Paying for Senior Living in South Carolina

While assisted living is a popular senior care option, there are other options available. For seniors who prefer to remain in their own homes, in-home care may provide them with adequate supports and services. In-home care, which includes services, such as meal preparation, light housework and companionship, costs $3,813 per month. Home health care, which offers assistance with daily living activities and some skilled nursing services, is a little more expensive at $4,000 per month. Adult day health care is the most affordable option at $1,343 per month, and nursing home care is the costliest at $7,123 per month.


Assisted Living


In-home Care


Home Health Care


Adult Day Care


Nursing Home Care

The Cost of Assisted Living in South Carolina

In general, South Carolina is an affordable state for senior care. According to Genworth Financial’s 2019 Cost of Care Survey, seniors pay an average of $3,500 for assisted living in this state, which is considerably lower than the national average of $4,051. Compared to other southeastern states, South Carolina’s assisted living costs are lower than average. In Georgia, which borders South Carolina from the southwest, assisted living costs $3,335 per month. In North Carolina, which borders the state from the north, this type of care costs $4,000 per month. In Tennessee and Virginia, which are located nearby, assisted living costs an average of $3,900 and $4,800 per month, respectively.


South Carolina


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North Carolina







The Cost of In-Home Care in South Carolina

In-home care options in South Carolina are available for a modest price of $3,813, the exact same rate as in North Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia. All of which sit below the national average of $4,290 and are affordable in-home care options. While also below the national average, Virginia’s rate of $4,195 is more expensive than South Carolina.  


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North Carolina







The Cost of Nursing Home Care in South Carolina

Seniors looking for nursing home care in South Carolina can expect to pay $7,123 a month, slightly below the national average of $7,513. South Carolina’s rates are less expensive than those in Virginia where the same service goes for $7,350 a month. Cheaper care can be found in the neighboring states of Tennessee, Georgia, and North Carolina where nursing home care incurs monthly costs of $6,836, $6,684 and $7,057 respectively. 


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Financial Assistance for Senior Living in South Carolina

Community Choices Waiver

The Community Choices Waiver covers services and supports to help seniors delay nursing home placement and remain in a community-based setting, such as an assisted living facility. Some services that it covers include help with activities, such as bathing and dressing, incontinence supplies and some skilled nursing procedures. This program is available to South Carolina residents who are at least 18 years old, unable to perform activities of daily living due to an illness or a disability and require nursing home-level care. They must also meet income and asset limits. As of 2020, seniors could have a monthly income of up to $2,349 and up to $2,000 in countable assets.

Contact: To learn more about this waiver program, seniors can call their nearest Department of Health and Human Services location.

Community Supports Waiver

The Community Supports Waiver program is similar to the Community Choices Waiver, but it is for South Carolina residents who require nursing home-level care due to an intellectual disability. Program participants can receive services in a community setting, such as an assisted living facility. Some services can be self-directed, meaning that the participant chooses their own care providers. Covered services include assistance with personal care and activities of daily living, supervision, nonmedical care and behavior support services. To qualify for services, seniors must meet Medicaid’s eligibility guidelines.

VA Aid and Attendance

South Carolina seniors who receive a monthly VA pension and who need help with daily living activities may be eligible for VA Aid and Attendance benefits. This cash benefit is paid monthly in addition to the VA pension and can be used towards senior living expenses.

To qualify for VA Aid and Attendance, applicants must meet at least one of the following conditions:

  • Need assistance with performing activities of daily living, such as dressing, feeding and bathing
  • Reside in a nursing home due to a disability resulting in the loss of physical or mental abilities
  • Have corrected eyesight of 5/200 or less in both eyes
  • Have a concentric contraction of the field of vision to 5 degrees or less
  • Are bedbound because of an illness

Contact: To apply for VA Aid and Attendance benefits, seniors can submit an application to the Philadelphia VA Pension Management Center or contact their nearest VA benefits office.

Senior Living Laws and Regulations in South Carolina

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.

South Carolina’s senior living facilities are governed by the state’s Bureau of Health Facility Licensing, which enforces laws and regulations to ensure that facilities are safe and that residents receive proper care.

Scope of Care

Senior living facilities in South Carolina provide housing and personal care services for two or more residents. They also provide three meals plus snacks daily to meet dietary needs, with no more than 14 hours between the last meal of the day and breakfast the following day.

Care Plan Requirements

Within 72 hours of admitting a new resident, a direct care staff member must assess the resident’s needs to determine the level of care needed and to confirm that the facility can meet those needs. Within seven days, the facility must develop an individualized care plan that outlines the resident’s needs, requirements and arrangements for visits with authorized health care providers, advanced care directives, dietary needs and recreational and social activities.

Medication Management Requirements

Staff members who have been trained by someone who is licensed to administer medications may administer routine medications, including injections required for diabetes management and anaphylactic reactions. A staff member who is a licensed nurse may administer flu shots and vitamin B-12 injections. Facility staff members may monitor diabetic residents’ blood sugar levels, but sliding scale insulin injections aren’t permitted.

Self-administering medications by residents is only permitted upon the specific written orders of their physician or another authorized health care provider. These orders must be obtained on a semiannual basis, or the staff must verify that the resident remains capable of self-administering medication quarterly. Senior living facilities may elect to not permit self-administration.

Staffing Requirements

All senior living facilities must designate an administrator to oversee the facility’s activities and functions and a recreational program staff member to provide or coordinate activities for residents. At all times, there must be an extensively trained staff member on duty who can take action in the event of an injury, illness or emergency.

The number of staff members that must be on-site is determined by the number of residents and their care needs. During the day, there must be at least one staff member per eight residents, and at night, there must be one staff member per 30 residents. In facilities with more than eight residents, at least one staff member must be awake and dressed at night. Facilities that have residents with dementia must have an awake staff member at all times.

Caregiver Screening Requirements

Before hiring a prospective staff member, licensed senior living facilities must perform a criminal background check on the candidate. Those who have been convicted of, or who pled no contest to, abuse, neglect or exploitation of a child or a vulnerable adult are ineligible for hire.

Caregiver Training Requirements

All staff members are required to receive training relevant to their job duties and responsibilities. At least annually, they must be trained on topics, such as basic first aid and CPR, medication management, the use of restraint techniques, OSHA standards regarding blood-borne pathogens and resident confidentiality. Direct care staff must also receive annual training on procedures for checking and documenting vital signs.

Medicaid Coverage

The state covers services received in senior living facilities under Healthy Connections, the Medicaid state plan, via two waiver programs.

Abuse and Neglect Reporting

Suspected or confirmed cases of abuse, neglect or exploitation must be reported by staff members to the South Carolina Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program. Anyone else who has a concern or needs to file a complaint pertaining to how residents in a facility are treated can also contact the ombudsman at 1-800-868-9095.

Memory Care Regulation

Memory care services are provided in senior living facilities in Alzheimer’s special care units. These units feature a secure program that is segregated from the general population. Senior living facilities that provide dementia care must have a sufficient number of direct care staff to ensure that memory care residents’ needs are met, and staff must receive dementia-specific training on topics, such as communication techniques, resident safety and understanding and coping with behaviors.

South Carolina Senior Living Free Resources

South Carolina Agencies

South Carolina Department on Aging

The South Carolina Department on Aging implements and oversees a variety of programs to enhance the quality of life of South Carolina seniors. It operates a website that is dedicated to matching seniors with the resources available to them, including transportation services, nutrition programs and personal care. The department also has a toll-free hotline that seniors can call for information on what programs are available to them. Anyone can contact the South Carolina Department on Aging to receive advice and assistance.

Contact: To learn more about supports and services for seniors, call 1-800-868-9095.

Area Agencies of Aging in South Carolina

South Carolina has 10 Area Agencies on Aging, each of which serves specific counties in the state. All of these agencies provide information, referral and case management services, and some of them receive funds from the state to provide direct services, such as transportation and congregate or home-delivered meals. To receive AAA services, an individual must be at least 60 years old, and they can only receive services from the AAA in their region.

Appalachian Area Agency on Aging(Serving Anderson, Cherokee, Greenville, Oconee, Pickens, and Spartanburg counties)30 Century Circle, Greenville, SC 29607(864) 242-9733
Catawba Area Agency on Aging(Serving Chester, Lancaster, York, and Union Counties)2051 Ebenezer Road, Suite B Post Office Box 4618, Rock Hill, SC 29732(803) 329-9670 or (800) 662-8330
Central Midlands Area Agency on Aging(Serving Fairfield, Lexington, Newberry and Richland counties)236 Stoneridge Driv,e Columbia, SC 29210(803) 376-5390 or (866) 394-4166
Lowcountry Area Agency on Aging(Serving Beaufort, Colleton, Hampton, and Jasper counties)634 Campground Road, Yemassee, SC 29945(843) 473-3991 or (877) 846-8148
Lower Savannah Area Agency on Aging(Serving Aiken, Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Calhoun, and Orangeburg counties)2748 Wagener Road, Aiken, SC 29801(803) 649-7981
Pee Dee Area Agency on Aging(Serving Chesterfield, Darlington, Dillon, Florence, Marion, and Marlboro)216 South 2nd Street, Hartsville, SC 29551(843) 383-8632
Santee-Lynches Area Agency on Aging(Serving Clarendon, Kershaw, Lee and Sumter counties)39 E. Calhoun Street, Sumter, SC 29150(803) 775-7381
Trident Area Agency on Aging(Serving Berkeley, Charleston, and Dorchester counties)4450 Leeds Place West, Suite B, North Charleston, SC 29405(843) 554-2275
Upper Savannah Area Agency on Aging(Serving Abbeville, Edgefield, Greenwood, Laurens, McCormick and Saluda counties)430 Helix Road, Greenwood, SC 29646(800) 922-7729 or (864)941-8069
Waccamaw Area Agency on Aging(Serving Georgetown, Horry, and Williamsburg Counties)1230 Highmarket Street, Georgetown, SC 29440(843) 546-8502

Veterans Affairs Offices in South Carolina

Eligible veterans and their spouses are entitled to a variety of services and supports through the state’s Department of Veterans Affairs. This department serves as an advocate for South Carolina’s 421,000 veterans and connects them with benefits they’re eligible for, including the VA Aid and Attendance program. It also operates a 24-hour VA crisis hotline, which can be reached at 1-800-273-8255.

Social Security Offices in South Carolina

Social Security offices provide in-person services and help with applications for retirement, disability and Medicare benefits. Local offices can also help low-income seniors apply for SSI, which can help them cover senior living expenses. South Carolina has a dozen field offices located throughout the state for seniors who need in-person assistance.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does assisted living cost in South Carolina?

On average, seniors in South Carolina pay $3,500 per month for assisted living expenses. In most cases, this monthly fee covers housing, meals, activities, housekeeping and some levels of personal care.

Does Healthy Connections pay for assisted living?

Healthy Connections, which is South Carolina’s Medicaid program, doesn’t directly cover assisted living. However, it has two waiver programs, including the Community Choices Waiver and the Community Supports Waiver, which cover some care services for eligible seniors.

Does Medicare pay for assisted living?

While Original Medicare doesn’t cover assisted living, some Medicare Advantage plans offer this coverage. Medicare Advantage plans are provided by private insurers, and benefits and costs vary by region.

What are “Activities of Daily Living?”

Activities of Daily Living, also called ADLs, are the everyday tasks that are necessary for health, safety and quality of life. There are five main ADLs, including bathing, toileting, eating, dressing and personal grooming. Instrumental activities of daily living, or IADLs, include medication management, shopping for groceries, meal preparation and cleaning and managing a home.

What is the difference between assisted living and nursing homes?

The main difference between assisted living and nursing homes is the level of medical care that is provided. Seniors in assisted living are generally able to live somewhat independently in their own apartment or suite, but they typically need assistance with one or two ADLs or IADLs. Nursing home residents typically need 24-hour medical monitoring and skilled nursing services.

The Top Cities for Senior Living in South Carolina

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

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