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Assisted Living in IA

A Caregiver's Guide to Assisted Living Facilities in Iowa

What they're called

Official name: Assisted Living Programs and Dementia-Specific Assisted Living Programs

Common nameAssisted living facilities

To compare assisted living to board and care, skilled nursing, and other long-term residential care communities, see Residential Care Options: How to Decide.

What they offer
  • Individual living units (from single rooms to multiroom apartments, with cooking facilities); each unit must have its own bathroom
  • All meals, usually in a common dining area
  • Supervision and medication monitoring
  • Personal care services: Assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) such as eating, dressing, and bathing
  • Social and exercise activities

Note: Some facilities also offer respite care and other special services.

What they cost

Median monthly fees: $3,182 (higher for residents requiring memory care)

State of Iowa requirements
  • Programs may not provide regular assistance with more than four activities of daily living (ADLs) or instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs).
  • Nursing care (by an RN or LPN), plus professional therapy and nurse-supervised assistance with medications or ADLs/IADLs may be provided only on a limited basis, for a total of no more than 28 hours per week. (A temporary waiver of this requirement may be granted for a limited time.)
  • Program may contract with outside providers for personal care and healthcare services.
  • Under the Iowa Nurse Practice Act, a nurse may delegate medication administration to unlicensed staff.
  • Program must conduct regular resident assessments, including the resident's functional, cognitive, and health status, and develop a plan to respond to the resident's needs.
State of Iowa oversight

The Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals, Adult Services Bureau (515-281-6325) licenses and regulates assisted living programs.

How to resolve problems or offer feedback
  • Contact the Iowa long-term care ombudsman for your area of the state; this is a free service helping residents informally resolve problems with a facility.
  • Contact the state Department of Inspections and Appeals toll-free at 877-686-0027 to file a complaint about any assisted living program; the department will investigate whether the program meets all state and federal laws and regulations.
  • Rate and review assisted living facilities.
How to pay for assisted living in Iowa
  • Most assisted living is paid for privately by the resident and/or his or her family.
  • For Medicaid-eligible low-income residents, Iowa's Medicaid home and community-based waiver program pays part of the cost of care services provided by participating programs. If additional personal care is required, further financial assistance may be available through the state's Supplementary Assistance In-Home Health Program.
  • Low-income veterans or surviving spouses of veterans may be eligible for Aid and Attendance or other payments from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), which can help pay for assisted living.
  • Some assisted living facilities offer sliding scale fees, making a higher level of care available to families that might not otherwise be able to afford it. Be sure to ask -- or ask a geriatric care manager in the area if he or she knows which facilities offer sliding scale fees.
Help finding and choosing a facility
  • Hire a geriatric care manager (most have extensive local knowledge about assisted living facilities in a particular geographic area, including space availability, resident needs assessments, sliding scale fees, and resident satisfaction). To find a geriatric care manager, see's Senior Living Directory directory.
  • For details about assisted living facilities in each of the 50 U.S. states plus the District of Columbia, see A Caregiver's Guide to Assisted Living Facilities.

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