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Assisted Living in Tennessee

Known as the Volunteer State, Tennessee is noted for its views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, a low cost of living and approximately 207 sunny days per year. Summers are hot and humid, and winters are short and mild. There are also several top hospitals, including Vanderbilt University Medical Center and Baptist Memorial, for seniors with underlying health needs.  

Assisted living communities provide multiple levels of care in a residential setting. The monthly rate in Tennessee varies widely depending on the exact location, the types of care provided, the number of amenities and other factors like the size of the facility. It averages around $4,105 per month, which is lower than the national average but higher than most states in the region. Most seniors rely on private funds, including retirement income, savings and personal assets, to cover the costs; however, some insurance plans can help.

This guide includes the cost of assisted living and other types of care, public insurance options and a resource guide with programs and services for seniors throughout the state.                           

How Much Does Assisted Living Cost in in Tennessee?

Assisted living in Tennessee costs an average of $4,105 a month, according to Genworth’s 2021 Cost of Care Survey. This is $395 less than the national average of $4,500. Comparing the cost of assisted living in neighboring states, Alabama and Mississippi residents pay similar amounts at $3,503 and $3,500 respectively. Kentucky residents pay one of the lowest costs at $3,448, while those in North Carolina pay around $4,010.

$4105

Tennessee

$4500

The United States

$3503

Alabama

$3500

Mississippi

$3448

Kentucky

$4010

North Carolina

The Cost of Assisted Living in Tennessee’s Top Cities

Assisted living options throughout Tennessee are cost-effective, with most prices falling below the state and national averages. Memphis and Chattanooga residents pay $4,200 and $4,220, respectively, while those in Nashville and Johnson City both pay around $4,100. Morristown seniors pay slightly more, at $4,109, while those in Cleveland have some of the highest costs, at $4,835 per month.

$4200

Memphis

$4100

Nashville

$4220

Chattanooga

$4835

Cleveland

$4109

Morristown

$4100

Johnson City

The Cost of Assisted Living vs. Other Types of Care

The cost of senior care options vary in Tennessee from $1,733 to $7,148 per month. The least expensive option is adult day health care, which provides social activities, support, peer groups, companionship and recreation during the daytime hours only. This is considerably less than assisted living at $4,105. Homemaker services and a home health aide both cost around $4,576 per month. The biggest difference in the two is that homemaker services provide casual supportive tasks, but a home health aide provides skilled nursing. Nursing homes, also referred to as skilled nursing facilities, provide the highest level of care outside a hospital setting. A semiprivate room in Tennessee costs around $7,148.

$4576

Homemaker Services

$4576

Home Health Aide

$1733

Adult Day Health Care

$4105

Assisted Living Facility

$7148

Nursing Home (semiprivate room)

Can You Use Medicaid to Pay for Assisted Living in Tennessee?

Tennessee state Medicaid, also referred to as TennCare, doesn’t directly cover the cost of an assisted living community, but some services may be covered under the Long-Term Services and Supports Program (LTSS). LTSS includes medical assistance, personal care and supportive services, including activities of daily living. This program was formerly known as the Long-Term Care Division, which helped seniors in long-term care who needed information and assistance. All the states’ long-term care waivers are administered under the LTSS.

Like most states, Tennessee’s Home and Community-Based Services Waiver (HCBS) helps pay for some personal care services for seniors who want to delay entry into a nursing home but require assistance with activities of daily living, whether at home or in an adult group care facility. TennCare operates the CHOICES in Long-Term Services and Supports waiver.

Waiver Programs for Assisted Living in Tennessee

CHOICES

Tennessee’s CHOICES waiver provides assistance for seniors 65 and older and for adults aged 21 and older with a disability. The waiver covers daily activities like bathing, dressing, toileting, meals, errands and transportation. Eligibility is based on the same income and asset limits and basic Medicaid requirements.

Program-specific information can be found by visiting the TennCare CHOICES website or by contacting any local Area Agency on Aging

Eligibility for Medicaid in Tennessee

For Medicaid eligibility in Tennessee, income limits are topped at $30,276 with assets totaling no more than $2,000. In a two-person household, the income limit is $30,276 per person, but the non-applicant may also receive a minimum needs allowance as defined by the spousal impoverishment rule to ensure bills are paid and to fight poverty. The asset limit in this case is $2,000 for the applicant and $137,400 for the non-applicant. In a two-person household when both individuals apply, the cap is $37,276 each and $3,000 in total assets.           

2022 Medicaid Income Limits for Seniors in Tennessee

 Yearly Income LimitsAsset Limits
Single Applicant $30,276$2,000 
Two-Person Household(Only One Person Applying)$30,276 for applicant $2,000 for applicant
$137,400 for non-applicant 
Two-Person Household(Both People Applying)$30,276 per applicant$3,000 

 Additional eligibility requirements include:

  • Must be 65 or older
  • Must reside in Tennessee
  • Must be a U.S. Citizen or legal alien
  • Must require long-term care

Applying for Medicaid in Tennessee

Residents of Tennessee may apply for state Medicaid through the online TennCare site or by contacting the agency by phone at (800) 318-2596. To apply in person, visit any local Department of Human Services. Paper applications may be printed and mailed to TennCare Connect, P.O. Box 305240, Nashville, TN 37230-5240 or faxed to (855) 315-0669.

Before You Apply

Before applying, it’s important to gather all important documents that help show proof of eligibility. This includes:

  • Proof of residency
  • Social Security number 
  • Copy of birth certificate
  • Proof of income from job and other sources of income
  • Copies of bank statements for the past 60 days
  • Citizenship and immigration status
  • Value of cars and other property
  • Health and life insurance information
  • Other official documentation to help prove your case

Where to Go to Get Help

Seniors applying for Medicaid in Tennessee may need help throughout the application process or need help making changes to an existing account. The following resources provide assistance with the most common questions and may assist with additional benefit information.

ResourceContactService
Benefits.gov(800) 610-1863Benefits.gov serves as a starting point of government benefits by state, category and agency. The site helps seniors determine what programs and services they are eligible for and can offer answers to the Medicaid application process.
Tennessee Justice Center(615) 255-0331 The Tennessee Justice Center offers information on Medicaid and Medicaid expansion. The site explains eligibility requirements and how to apply and offers information on additional programs and services offered by the state. 
TennCare Connect(855) 259-0701The official TennCare site provides answers to questions concerning eligibility and current benefits. 

Can You Use Medicare to Pay for Assisted Living in Tennessee?

Unfortunately, Medicare does not cover the cost of assisted living in Tennessee. Unlike nursing homes, assisted living facilities are not considered to be “clinical settings’ and so are not eligible for Medicare coverage. That being said, you can still use Medicare to cover the cost of approved medications, doctor visits, medical equipment, etc.

For more information about what Medicare visit medicare.gov.

Are There Other Financial Assistance Options for Assisted Living in Tennessee?


How to ApplyHow It Works
Aid and AttendanceApply online at va.gov.If 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 ftc.govIf 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 acl.gov.While 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 and Low-Cost Resources for Seniors in Tennessee

Several private and public agencies provide seniors throughout Tennessee with programs and services to improve their overall quality of life. These resources also connect seniors with information on insurance, transportation, legal assistance and recreational needs.

ResourceContactService
Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability(615) 741-2056The Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability advocates for changes to help improve the quality of life of seniors throughout the state. The agency connects seniors with available programs and resources, including caregiver support, health promotion and prevention, nutrition and transportation assistance.
First Tennessee Human Resource Agency(423) 461-8200The First Tennessee Human Resource Agency connects seniors with available programs and services, including transportation, nutrition, adult day services, employment and social services.
Creative Aging Tennessee(615) 741-1701Partnering with the Tennessee Arts Commission and the Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability, Creative Aging Tennessee provides workshops and projects for seniors aged 65 and older. Programs include arts, art education, community arts, literary arts, performing arts and crafts.
Adult Protective Services(888) 277-8366APS investigates reports of fraud, neglect and abuse of older adults throughout Tennessee. The agency also works to increase community awareness and can help provide seniors who’ve reported abuse with a safe place to go until the investigation is complete and a solution has been found.
Tennessee Long-Term Care Ombudsman(615) 253-5412Seniors in Tennessee can rely on the long-term care ombudsman program to ensure communities maintain the standards for long-term care. Trained volunteers take complaints against communities and help seniors seek solutions to issues. The online site also provides information links to federal codes and a list of licensed facilities.

COVID-19 Rules for Assisted Living in Tennessee

The following information is based on research done on several government websites, including tn.gov and cms.gov. These rules apply to nursing homes and other types of senior living facilities. We’ve most recently updated this data on 2/15/2022, 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? Yes (Conditions Apply)
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 (Conditions Apply)

Assisted Living Laws and Regulations in Tennessee

Assisted living communities in Tennessee are regulated by the Tennessee Department of Health, Board for Licensing Health Care Facilities. The agency ensures the facility maintains government standards for specific criteria including personal care, dietary needs, health and safety, and staffing.

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