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Assisted Living in Delaware

Delaware is one of the smallest states in terms of land mass and population size, with just over one million residents as of 2021 Census estimates, but it has a relatively high percentage of senior citizens. Almost one in five (19.4%) of Delaware’s residents are aged 65 and over. 

In our 2024 Senior Living Report, the state is ranked 25th for its quality of life and 29th in overall affordability. However, the cost of assisted living in particular is quite high, at an average of $5,995 per month, which is 33% higher than the U.S. average. The state’s highest ranking hospitals are located in Newark, Dover and Lewes. Christiana Hospital in Newark received the highest rating in Delaware and performs well in many procedures and treatment of conditions that commonly affect the elderly, such as hip and knee replacements, stroke, diabetes and heart surgery.

This guide includes detailed cost comparisons for assisted living in Delaware and the wider region, Medicaid coverage and eligibility requirements as well as state regulations and useful resources related to assisted living.

The Cost of Assisted Living in Delaware

When trying to decide how to pay for assisted living, one of the first questions that comes up is "How much does it cost?" With the impact of inflation, it's more important than ever to have up-to-date information when making a financial plan for senior living. To help shed light on real senior living prices, has compiled proprietary cost data from its network of over 75,000 senior living providers to offer insight into the average cost of assisted living in Delaware and its 4 cities.

The Cost of Assisted Living in Delaware's Top Cities

When investigating independent living options in Delaware, the costs are quite diverse. Both Hockessin and Newark come in at $4,203, offering upscale surroundings without the highest price tag. Venturing east to Wilmington brings the lowest rate of $3,711, and the state capital of Dover takes the cake at $5,864, without offering beach front amenities. Even in a small state such as Delaware, comparing area costs is crucial to make the right choice.











Inflation's Impact on the Cost of Assisted Living in Delaware

Inflation can be unpredictable when it comes to assisted living costs in Delaware and neighboring states. There isn't any singular pattern to identify. Delaware caught a break with a 12.9% decrease in living costs. Not too shabby when the entire U.S. had a 9.6% increase overall. A glance around the region shows Pennsylvania with the highest rise of 19.1% and Maryland going up by 10.4%. Virginia decreased by 0.8%, and New Jersey also fell by 11.6%. All these fluctuations make it important to stay up-to-date and prepare for the unexpected in order to navigate these changing times.

Location2022 Cost (Historical)2023 Cost (Current)2024 Cost (Estimated)
U.S. Average$4,070$4,459$4,802
New Jersey$5,857$5,175$5,992

Assisted living in Delaware is the second-most expensive of the five main levels of care for the elderly, at $5,995 per month. Care for seniors at home, including in-home medical services, is priced lower by roughly 10%. Adult day health care, which is a part-time service provided in the community, is the most affordable at $1,661 per month. The most expensive level of care is provided in nursing homes, which cost more than twice as much as assisted living, at an average of $12,273 per month for a semiprivate room in Delaware.

Assisted Living


Home Care


Home Health Care


Adult Day Health Care


Nursing Home Care (semiprivate)


Does Medicaid Cover Assisted Living in Delaware?

Yes, but Medicaid in Delaware doesn’t cover the entire bill for assisted living. Medicaid coverage of assisted living is provided as part of the Diamond State Health Plan – Plus. Medicaid and the DSHP-Plus initiative help low-income seniors, people with disabilities and other vulnerable members of the community who need help to avoid being placed in a nursing home and, ultimately, to live in the least restrictive environment possible.

What Assisted Living Services Are Covered by Medicaid in Delaware

Most of the services provided to eligible residents in licensed assisted living facilities are covered by Medicaid and DSHP-Plus. The following is a non-exhaustive list of the most common types of covered services related to assisted living.

  • Personal care
  • Medical supplies and durable medical equipment
  • Transportation
  • Community transition (to/from nursing home, hospital, etc.)
  • Speech/physical/occupational therapy
  • Inpatient/outpatient hospital services
  • Nutrition services
  • Case management

Residents must find another source of funds to pay for room and board costs, which make up a substantial portion of the total cost for assisted living.

How To Know If You’re Eligible for Medicaid in Delaware

Eligibility for Delaware Medicaid, the DSHP-Plus initiative and related services is based on the individual’s financial and medical status. The Division of Medicaid and Medical Assistance (DMMA) then determines which specific services are available to each individual. Income limits for 2023 are $27,240 for an individual and $54,840 for couples.  Asset limits refer to liquid resources such as bank accounts, life/property insurance, retirement accounts, stocks, bonds and unoccupied properties. If a spouse or other qualified family member lives in the home, its value isn’t counted as part of the applicant’s assets. Assets are limited to $2,000 for individuals and $3,000 for couples. A non-applicant spouse is allotted up to $148,620 in countable assets.

Household SizeNumber of ApplicantsIncome Limits Per Year*Asset Limits: Applicant(s)Asset Limits: Non-Applicants
One Person1$27,420$2,000
Two People1$27,420**$2,000$148,620
Two People 2$54,840$3,000

*Depending on the facility setting, a recipient may not be able to keep income up to this level.

**Income limit is for applicant only.

Other assisted living facility eligibility requirements unrelated to the applicant’s financial situation include.

  • Aged 65 and over or disabled
  • Delaware resident and U.S. citizen or legally residing noncitizen
  • Resident of a licensed assisted living facility
  • Requires the level of care typically provided in nursing homes
  • Able to live safely in an assisted living facility


People who currently receive or are eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are automatically eligible for Medicaid.

How to Apply for Medicaid in Delaware

Applications for Medicaid can be made online via the Delaware ASSIST website, along with self-screening tools to help determine eligibility. Printable application forms in multiple languages can also be found on the website. Residents can also begin the application process over the phone or in person by calling (302) 255-9500 for further directions and to be put in contact with a nearby office.

Information You Will Need

The online application tool linked above provides a full list of the required documentation for each program upon completion. Applicants should prepare to provide the following:


  • Social Security number
  • Government-issued identification
  • Proof of income and verification of assets
  • Proof of medical conditions, disabilities or other need for assistance
  • Green card or other proof of alien status (for noncitizens only)


Applicants who wish to receive coverage for services provided in assisted living facilities must be assessed by certified nursing staff as to their need for such services, who will then provide the relevant proof to the department.

How to Get Help Applying for Medicaid

The following services are available to help Delaware residents identify their long-term care and health insurance needs, understand the options available and learn how to apply for the appropriate services. All programs are free and available statewide, and some may offer in-person counseling sessions.

ProgramContactServices provided
Options CounselingCall (800) 223-9074 during regular weekday business hoursThis free service provides counseling via telephone and in-person meetings for elderly residents and family members who need help understanding their long-term care options. Staff can assist in the application and enrollment stage for various programs and services, providing help collecting the required documents and filling out forms. In-person counseling sessions can be held in the applicant's home, hospital or long-term care facility.
Delaware Medicare Assistance BureauCall (800) 336-9500 for assistance over the phone or to arrange an in-person counseling sessionThe DMAB helps Medicare recipients understand the various related programs and supplements as well as Medicaid and other types of health insurance. Help is provided via telephone or at in-person counseling sessions at selected locations throughout Delaware, which are listed on the website.
Medicaid Customer RelationsCall (302) 571-4900 or (866) 843-7212Seniors and family members can contact the customer relations department for Delaware Medicaid and Medical Assistance with questions about the programs available and benefits provided as well as assistance with the application process.

Does Medicare Cover Assisted Living in Delaware?

The short answer is that no, Medicare does not cover the cost of assisted living in Delaware. Assisted living facilities are considered to be a “residential setting” and not a “clinical setting,” (think nursing homes). While Medicare doesn’t cover the cost of care received in an assisted living community, it does still cover things like approved medications, doctor visits, medical equipment, etc., just like it would if you lived at home.

For more information about when Medicare can be used to pay for senior living in a nursing home, and for Medicare-related resources, see our guide to Nursing Homes in Delaware.

Other Financial Assistance Options for Assisted Living in Delaware

Seniors who are not eligible (due to location, financial situation, or other factors) for other types of financial assistance, do still have some options. See the table below for an overview of some of the most common ways to make Assisted Living affordable.

Aid and AttendanceLearn more and apply online at who receive a VA pension may also be eligible for the Aid and Attendance benefit, a monthly cash allowance that veterans receive in addition to their standard pension amount. The benefit is intended for veterans in need of long-term care services and may be used towards paying for assisted living.
Reverse MortgagesLearn more about your options and how to apply at ftc.govIf you own a home, you may be able to use a reverse mortgage to help pay for assisted living. Reverse mortgages are loans that one can take out against the value of their home, essentially converting some of the home's equity into cash. Reverse mortgage loans do need to be repaid with interest, typically within 12 months of receiving the loan.
Long-Term Care (LTC) InsuranceLearn more about Long-Term Care Insurance and how to apply for a policy at who already have long-term care insurance may be able to use it to pay for assisted living. Most policies cover at least a portion of the cost, but it depends on the specific policy terms. Note that older adults who are already in need of assisted living will not typically be eligible to sign up for a LTC insurance policy.

Free and Low-Cost Resources for Seniors in Delaware

There are many resources in Delaware that assist seniors in their retirement. has compiled information on local organizations, programs and agencies and categorized them into care types for easy reference.

Area Agency on Aging

Retirees can find support and advice on various senior-related issues from their local Area Agency on Aging. The agency provides advice on topics such as financial assistance programs, in-home care and long-term care planning. It also connects seniors and caregivers with community-based resources.

Program NamePhone NumberDescription
Delaware Division of Services for Aging and Adults with Physical Disabilities800-223-9074Delaware's Area Agencies on Aging offer services to support the health and well-being of seniors in the state. They provide community services to meet the nutritional, health, social, emotional and recreational needs of older adults. AAAs offer easy access to information regarding support services and long-term care options. The agencies empower seniors and assist them in maintaining their independence through respite care, nutrition programs and support groups.

Cash Assistance Programs

Cash assistance programs in Delaware provide financial support to help low-income retirees remain in their own homes for as long as possible. Seniors and caregivers can apply for tax rebates and reductions, discounts on vital services and help covering the cost of heating and cooling their home.

Program NamePhone NumberDescription
Delaware Emergency Assistance ServicesSeniors who are living on a low income may qualify for ongoing government assistance to help them purchase food or cover urgent bills. There are also emergency government assistance programs that can help with unforeseen expenses or shortterm bills.
Delaware Lifeline Program800-234-9473The LifeLine Program offers a discount on landline or mobile telephone service, ensuring that participants can stay in contact with loved ones.

Financial Assistance for Senior Care and Senior Living

Whether living in their own home or in a senior living community, Delaware seniors can find financial assistance from numerous local resources. These organizations help residents cover some of the costs associated with in-home or long-term care and connect them with other helpful community-based resources.

Program NamePhone NumberDescription
Delaware Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE)The Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly is available in some parts of Delaware but isn't statewide. PACE doesn't provide funds directly. Rather it simplifies the Medicare and Medicaid process, providing a single point of contact for all Medicare and Medicaid payments, claims and assessments.

Food Assistance Programs

Local organizations help ensure elderly citizens have a balanced diet and receive essential vitamins and minerals to remain healthy. Through nutrition programs, congregate meals, home-delivered meals and food pantries, these programs help Delaware seniors afford the nutritious food they need.

Program NamePhone NumberDescription
Delaware Meals on WheelsDelaware Meals on Wheels provides hot, nutritious home-delivered meals to homebound seniors and disabled residents throughout the state. The program is administered through five organizations: City Fare Meals on Wheels in New Castle County, Newark Senior Center, Modern Maturity Center in Kent County, CHEER in Sussex County and Meals on Wheels Lewis-Rehoboth. Seniors can contact their nearest program for food delivery. In addition to providing daily meals, the organization offers meal kits with nonperishable foods to stock seniors' kitchens.

Financial Assistance for Senior Living

Low-income elderly individuals in senior living communities can access financial assistance through local-run programs. These Delaware resources offer advice, guidance and support to help older adults pay for the services offered by long-term care providers.

Program NamePhone NumberDescription
Delaware Diamond State Health Plan - Plus800‐996‐9969The Diamond State Health Plan - Plus is a Medicaid waiver that covers long-term care options for seniors, including nursing home care. The state discontinued several other waivers for the elderly and disabled and created one simplified waiver to help seniors who require varying levels of care either in the community or in nursing facilities. This managed long-term care waiver is divided into two sub-programs, the Nursing Facility Program and the Long-Term Care Community Services Program. While the program is for managed care, there's still some scope for consumer-directed care. Seniors can choose providers for certain elements of their care, including hiring family members if desired.

Free Used Medical Equipment

Due to the high cost of purchasing new medical equipment, several organizations in Delaware collect lightly used medical devices such as wheelchairs, ramps and walkers and distribute them to local seniors and residents in need.

Program NamePhone NumberDescription
Delaware Assistive Technology Initiative800-223-9074The Delaware Assistive Technology Initiative provides short-term durable medical equipment loans to individuals experiencing temporary illness, are having other equipment repaired or simply wish to try a medical device before committing to a purchase.

Health Insurance & Prescription Drug Coverage for Seniors

Delaware seniors who meet certain income criteria can apply to local resources to help them pay for prescription drugs. Eligible residents can also receive assistance through health insurance and other programs to access free or discounted medical services.

Program NamePhone NumberDescription
Delaware Prescription Assistance Program844-245-9580The Delaware Prescription Assistance Program offers support for individuals who are unable to cover the cost of prescription drugs themselves. The program is aimed at low-income individuals who have no prescription drug cover other than Medicare Part D and those who have an income below 200% of the federal poverty level. This program is open to elderly or disabled individuals who cannot cover the cost of physician-prescribed drugs and those who are on a low income or whose prescription bills exceed 40% of their income. Seniors who qualify for the program may receive support of up to $3,000 per year toward the cost of Medicare Part D premiums and certain prescription medications.

Home Repair and Modifications

Seniors and those with disabilities can access a variety of local resources to help them pay for home repairs and modifications. Programs in Delaware have different eligibility criteria and often assist retirees by providing grants or loans.

Program NamePhone NumberDescription
Delaware Weatherization Assistance Program302-504-6111The Delaware Weatherization Assistance Program provides free home improvements to help make homes more energy efficient. The program offers a variety of assistance, including insulation, weather stripping, low-energy light bulbs and other home improvements.

Many organizations offer free or low-cost legal services to Delaware seniors. Older adults can access advice on issues such as estate planning, living wills and power of attorney. Some firms also act as long-term care ombudsmen, advocating for the rights of seniors in senior living communities.

Program NamePhone NumberDescription
Delaware Community Legal Aid Society, Inc.800-537-8383Delaware Community Legal Aid Society, Inc. provides free legal services to seniors aged 60 and older and adults with disabilities. Under the Elder Law Program, Delaware older adults can receive advice and information on a variety of senior-related issues, including living wills, powers of attorney, consumer problems and benefits.

Social Security Offices

Social Security offices in Delaware help seniors and disabled people access the benefits they're entitled to. Older adults can contact their local office for information about receiving retirement benefits, disability allowance and Supplemental Security Income.

Program NamePhone NumberDescription
Delaware Social SecuritySocial Security is a source of income available to retirees and people who can no longer work because of a disability. The money for Social Security comes from a payroll tax levied on employers, employees and self-employed individuals. When you retire, you'll receive monthly payments based on how much you earned when you were working.

Tax Assistance

Seniors can apply for tax assistance from several Delaware resources. Elderly residents and those with disabilities could be eligible for tax exemptions on medical expenses, reductions on property tax and other tax assistance programs.

Program NamePhone NumberDescription
Delaware Senior School Property Tax ReliefThe Senior School Property Tax Relief program offers a discount on property taxes of 50% up to a total value of $400. The relief can only be applied to the senior's primary residence.

Utility & Energy Bill Assistance

Low-income seniors who are struggling to meet the costs of maintaining their homes can find support from organizations that offer assistance with utility and energy bills. Delaware retirees could also qualify for emergency funding programs if they're in danger of losing utility services due to unpaid invoices.

Program NamePhone NumberDescription
Delaware Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program assists families struggling with their utility bills in the form of emergency payments to assist with heating bills during winter and air conditioning during the summer months.

Veteran's Services

Delaware retirees who have served in the U.S. military can find support from local veteran services. These offices and organizations help vets access the benefits they're eligible for and provide advice and information on a variety of issues.

Program NamePhone NumberDescription
Delaware VA Benefits and Health CareThe Delaware VA Benefits and Health Care program offers medical care and additional benefits to seniors throughout the state. Through the state's VA program, seniors who served in the military often qualify for services and retirement benefits. The main VA Medical Center is located in Wilmington, and the VA also has outpatient clinics or vet centers in Dover, Georgetown and Wilmington.

Assisted Living Laws and Regulations in Delaware

Delaware’s Department of Health and Social Services and its Division of Health Care Quality set the rules that must be followed by assisted living facilities in the state. The full list of assisted living regulations can be viewed online and we’ve included an overview of important points below.

Assisted Living Service Plan RequirementsThe concept of "shared responsibility" must be used when creating and updating service plans, which means the resident and staff are both responsible for making decisions. Residents must be assessed, with the details used to create a written service agreement on or before the day of admission to the facility. The service agreement must contain details on the physical, medical and social services required by the individual.
Assisted Living Admission RequirementsPotential residents must not be admitted if they have conditions that are expected to require testing and frequent medication adjustments in order to avoid an acute episode. Residents must not be bedridden for longer than two weeks, require a ventilator or have other unstable conditions.
Assisted Living Scope of CareResidents must not require full-time skilled nursing services. Facilities providing dementia care must make appropriate provisions and have a policy detailing them.
Assisted Living Medicaid PolicyThe DSHP-Plus initiative, which is part of the state Medicaid program for eligible seniors, can pay for some services provided in licensed facilities. Residents who are eligible for Medicaid must be allowed to keep a minimum of $131 per month for personal needs.
Assisted Living Facility RequirementsThe facility itself, including outdoor areas accessible by residents, must comply with local, state and federal laws. Buildings must be clean and well-maintained and free of hazards and unnecessarily restrictive barriers. Pest control programs must be implemented. Resident rooms and common areas must be appropriately heated and/or cooled. Bedrooms must house no more than two residents.
Medication Management RegulationsFacility administrators must follow written, publicly available policies relating to how medication is obtained, refilled, stored and disposed of. Procedures for the administration, self-administration and assistance with self-administration of medication must also be noted in the policies. Residents who are permitted to self-administer medication must be provided with a secured container or cabinet for storage.
Staffing RequirementsStaffing levels must be sufficient in number, training and certification to satisfy the requirements of residents at all times. Staff must have access to the service agreement for all residents under their direct care or supervision. All facilities must employ a director. Facilities with up to 24 beds must also employ a part-time administrator, and facilities with 25 or more beds must employ a full-time administrator.
Staff Training RequirementsStaff must have current and valid certification, licensing and/or proof of other requirements relevant to their position and duties, with documentation kept on file by the facility administration. New staff must go through on-site orientation and ongoing in-service education.
Background Checks for Assisted LivingAll employees must submit to fingerprinting, state and federal criminal background checks as well as drug testing in accordance with Delaware law. Additionally, employees are checked against numerous registries that track abuse, complaints and licensing issues via the Background Check Center.
Requirements for Reporting AbuseReportable incidents must be recorded in facility files, which include any incident in which abuse, neglect, mistreatment or financial exploitation has or is suspected to have occurred. Staff must be informed of their duty to report such incidents as part of their annual in-service education and training. Residents, family members and others can contact the Complaint & Incident Reporting hotline at (877) 453-0012 or submit a complaint form online.

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