Guide to Independent Living in Wisconsin
Wisconsin is a popular choice for independent living among older adults. Of the state’s nearly 6 million residents, 17.5% are seniors aged 65 and over. Wisconsin welcomes seniors with a very positive tax environment, including no taxation on Social Security and certain government pensions. Other kinds of retirement income, such as payments from a 401(k) or IRA, are taxed at a relatively low level between 3.54 and 7.65%.
Apart from the reasonable cost of independent living in Wisconsin, active seniors have plenty to do in their free time. The mild summers that Wisconsin enjoys encourage an outdoors lifestyle, while 55+ communities in almost every town host senior dinners, dances and other community events. A high percentage of doctors and medical centers that accept Medicare have contributed to the somewhat higher-than-average senior life expectancy in Wisconsin.
This guide helps seniors and their families find independent living resources in Wisconsin. It contains information about likely costs for care as well as for other types of senior living and costs in other states. It also includes a list of free resources to help seniors stay healthy and active in their communities for as long as possible.
How Much Does Independent Living Cost in Wisconsin?
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 who opt for independent living in Wisconsin can expect to pay $2,990 a month on average for their care. This is just $65 more each month than the national average of $2,925. Seniors in neighboring states pay similar amounts. Independent senior living in Minnesota, for example, averages $2,930 a month, while similar care in Illinois averages $2,917. Costs are lower in Michigan where seniors pay an average of $2,763 a month.
The United States
The Cost of Independent Living in Florida’s Top Cities
The amount seniors pay for independent living varies considerably from place to place within Wisconsin. Costs vary mostly by location with some cities averaging significantly less than the state average. Low-cost communities in Wisconsin include Janesville ($2,990), Green Bay ($2,893) and Fond du Lac ($2,714). Higher-cost communities include Madison ($3,120), Milwaukee ($3,461) and Appleton ($3,340). Oshkosh has some of the highest costs in Wisconsin at $3,352 a month.
Fond du Lac
The Cost of Independent Living vs. Other Types of Care
Seniors have more than one option for living in Wisconsin. Under some circumstances, other types of care may be more affordable or more appropriate for many seniors. While independent living costs an average of $2,990 a month, adult day health care in Wisconsin costs an average of $1,723. Assisted living is the next most expensive care option at $4,600 a month, while both home care and home health care are close to each other at $5,529 and $5,720 a month respectively. Residential care in a skilled nursing facility can be one of the more expensive choices in Wisconsin at $9,022 a month for a semiprivate room.
Adult Day Health Care
Home Health Aide
Assisted Living Facility
Nursing Home (Semiprivate room)
Does Medicare or Medicaid Cover Independent Living in Wisconsin?
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 Wisconsin 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 Wisconsin.
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 Wisconsin
Seniors who have opted into independent living have several ways to finance their lifestyle. Aside from saved cash and selling investments, the following options are common choices for seniors who need financial support.
- Reverse mortgage: A reverse mortgage is a loan for 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 house as collateral to pay for living expenses.
- Long-term care insurance: Long-term care insurance policies may pay for some services, such as housekeeping, transportation and meal preparation.
- Life insurance: Some insurance policies allow holders to cash out the present value of the policy, which can generally be used for any reason.
- Annuities: Annuities offer regularly scheduled payouts that may be used to pay for long-term care.
Free Independent Living Resources for Seniors in Wisconsin
Wisconsin seniors can get help staying independent through a large array of state-level agencies and nonprofit organizations. These free resources can help independent seniors maintain a high quality of life and stay out of residential care by providing no-cost information, referrals, counseling and even social events to keep seniors engaged and living well on their own.
|Regional Area Agencies on Aging||(608) 266-1865||Wisconsin’s 70 counties and 11 Indian nations are served by a large network of Area Agencies on Aging. Through the AAA, seniors aged 60 and over can get information about local programs and events for seniors, referrals for service and benefits they may be eligible for and community support through their local senior centers. Services tailored to the needs of independent seniors include transportation assistance, in-home caregiver help and home-delivered meals. Congregate meals for seniors are available at some senior centers as are community events, such as senior dances and movie screenings. Referrals for medical and mental health screenings, legal aid and abuse prevention can also be had through the AAA in a senior’s county of residence.|
|Department of Veterans Affairs||(800) 947-8387||The Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs advocates for honorably discharged veterans and their qualifying spouses and dependents. Agents can assist senior veterans with getting health services, benefits counseling from case managers and placement assistance in a large network of Wisconsin veterans’ homes. The department also supports the Wisconsin Veterans Museum and Veteran Assistance Program, which financially supports low-income vets across the state. Officers can also help active senior veterans out with discounted hunting and fishing licenses, park admission and even some tax benefits.|
|Medicare Counseling||(800) 242-1060||The Wisconsin Department of Health Services can help Medicare beneficiaries with medical and financial decision-making related to their insurance coverage. The state’s Medigap Hotline connects seniors with one-on-one counseling about their Medicare, Medicare Advantage and Medigap options. The state’s Part D Helpline at (855) 677-2783 can assist seniors who need prescription drug coverage at an affordable price. In-person counseling appointments are also available at local offices around Wisconsin.|
|AARP Wisconsin||(866) 448-3611||AARP helps seniors aged 60 and over around the nation with community grants and informational services to help them find necessary care. AARP Wisconsin connects local seniors with volunteer opportunities, discount programs and recreational activities for active adults. It also performs advocacy work for seniors through a network of affiliated groups in every part of the state.|
|Legal Action of Wisconsin||(855) 947-2529||Legal Action of Wisconsin helps seniors by providing free legal advice and assistance for a variety of age-related topics. The center can help seniors with civil rights lawsuits, disability claims, benefits issues, Social Security applications and appeals and a wide range of insurance-related matters. Advice is also available from Legal Action’s lawyers about estate planning, living wills and other medical and senior-specific issues.|
COVID-19 Rules and Restrictions for Wisconsin Independent Living Communities
The following rules and guidelines were obtained from dhs.wisconsin.gov/covid-19, 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 2/15/2022, 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?||Not Available*|
|Are residents of senior living facilities who leave and return required to self-quarantine?||Not Available*|
|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|
*NOTE: This information was not available for this state, contact your local area agency on aging or senior living facility for more information.
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)|