Assisted Living in Iowa

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Families looking for assisted living in Iowa (IA) have a wide array of communities to choose from, since estimated that there are more than 30,000 assisted living communities serving seniors across the U.S., and over 264 statewide. The state is also home to a rapidly growing number of senior citizens, with adults over 65 making up an estimated 17 percent of the population. A resident in an assisted living community in Iowa will pay $3,847 per month on average.

Average Monthly Costs

States near Iowa

$4,698.00 Wisconsin
$4,403.00 Illinois
$4,370.00 Minnesota
$4,203.00 Iowa
$4,000.00 US
$3,107.00 Missouri
Genworth lists the average cost of a private, one bedroom unit in an assisted living community in Iowa as $4,203. This places Iowa on the higher end of the scale at about $200 over the national average, and about $100 lower than the median cost of assisted living in nearby states.

Compare Monthly Care Costs

When it comes to care options, assisted living is just one of several choices available to seniors. Some care options, like part-time in-home care or independent living, may cost less, while others like memory care or skilled nursing are likely to cost significantly more. Seniors can speak with their medical practitioners to receive guidance on what level of care will best suit their needs and abilities.

Nursing Home Care


In-Home Care


Assisted Living

Average Monthly Costs

Cities in Iowa

$4,562.00 Iowa City
$4,480.00 Dubuque
$4,343.00 Waterloo, Cedar Falls
$4,331.00 Ames
$4,316.00 Des Moines, West Des Moines
$4,288.00 Cedar Rapids
$4,223.00 Davenport, Moline, Rock Island
$3,414.00 Rest Of State
$3,332.00 Sioux City
When estimating the cost of assisted living, it's important to know that average prices can differ significantly between various parts of Iowa. For example, assisted living rates in areas such as Dubuque are at least $200 more than the state average of $4,203, but in areas like Rest of State, you're saving on average $800. The most affordable region in Iowa for assisted living is Sioux City at $3,332.

What You Should Know About Assisted Living in Iowa

In Iowa, assisted living facilities are officially known as assisted living programs. These facilities house three or more seniors who need assistance with up to three activities of daily living.

Financial Assistance for Assisted Living in Iowa

Iowa Medicaid

Medicaid is a joint state and federal program that provides health coverage for low-income seniors. Medicaid pays for nursing home care, but for those who prefer to live in an assisted living facility, Medicaid sometimes pays for assisted living if the care can be acquired at a lower cost than in a nursing home. This is done through the Medicaid 1915 (c) Elderly Waiver program.

Who Is Eligible?

To be eligible for Iowa Medicaid, an individual must be at least 65 years old and both a resident of Iowa and a citizen of the United States. Additionally, they must be determined by the Iowa Medicaid Enterprise to need nursing or skilled nursing level of care. There are also income and asset limits that must be met.

How to Apply

This Medicaid waiver is available in all counties in Iowa. It is not an entitlement program, meaning that there are only a certain number of slots available. If all of the slots are filled, then qualified applicants are placed on a waiting list. To apply for Medicaid, a senior should contact their county’s Iowa Department of Human Services office.

More Ways to Finance Assisted Living

While many families use their own funds or personal assets to pay for assisted living, there are plenty of additional options to cover these costs. Visit our 9 Ways to Pay for Assisted Living page for more information.

Free Assisted Living Resources in Iowa

Iowa Area Agencies on Aging

Under the Older Americans Act, the Iowa Department on Aging has appointed six Area Agencies on Aging. These agencies provide seniors and their families with information on available services, provide referrals and coordinate support services like home-delivered meals and transportation services.

Aging Resources of Central Iowa

5835 Grand Avenue, Suite 106, Des Moines, IA 50312
(515) 255-1310

Connections Area Agency on Aging

300 West Broadway, Suite 240, Council Bluffs, IA 51503
(712) 328-2540

2301 Pierce St., Sioux City, IA 51104
(800) 432-9209

109 N. Elm St., Creston, IA 50801
(800) 432-9209

Elderbridge Area on Aging

22 N. Georgia, Suite 216, Mason City, IA 50401
(641) 424-0678

The Heritage Area Agency on Aging

6301 Kirkwood Blvd. SW, Cedar Rapids, IA 52404
(319) 398-5559

Milestones Area Agency on Aging

509 Jefferson St., Burlington, IA 52601
(319) 752-5433

935 E. 53rd St., Davenport, IA 52807
(563) 324-9085

623 Pennsylvania Ave., Ottumwa, IA 52501
(641) 682-2270

Northeast Iowa Area Agency on Aging (NEI3A)

808 River Street, Decorah, IA 52101
(563) 382-2941

Assisted Living Laws and Regulations in Iowa

Assisted Living Service Plan Requirements

Assisted living facilities in Iowa are required to assess a resident’s physical, cognitive and health status at regular intervals or when any change in condition becomes apparent. If a resident requires personal care or special health services, a multidisciplinary team must be involved in creating the resident’s service plan.

In some cases, a managed risk agreement must be negotiated between the facility and the resident. This is a legal agreement between the facility and a resident or their power of attorney which states that the resident or responsible person shares responsibility with the facility to identify changes in care needs.

Assisted Living Admission Requirements

Assisted living facilities in Iowa are not permitted to admit or continue to house residents who need total assistance with four or more activities of daily living for more than 21 days. Additionally, assisted living facilities cannot accommodate residents who are bedbound; would require two-person assistance to stand, transfer or evacuate the facility; have an uncontrolled mental disorder; are addicted to a substance; have chronic unmanageable incontinence; require skilled nursing care for more than 21 days or otherwise meet the program’s discharge criteria.

In some cases, if a resident needs skilled nursing care for more than 21 days, the facility may request an exception to the rule from the Department of Inspections and Appeals. An exception may be granted if the resident makes an informed decision to stay in the facility and the facility has the staffing to meet the resident’s needs without compromising the care and safety of other residents.

Assisted Living Scope of Care

Assisted living facilities in Iowa must provide health-related services and assistance with the activities of daily living. They must also provide around-the-clock access to a personal emergency response system.

Assisted living facilities are required to provide at least one hot meal a day. The meals can be provided by the facilities themselves, or they may make arrangements with other community providers for meal availability. All meals must comply with the guidelines published by the National Academy of Science’s Food and Nutrition Board. If the facility provides therapeutic diets, then the diet must be prescribed by a health care provider, and a licensed dietician must be available to write and approve the resident’s menu and review how the food is prepared and served.

Assisted Living Medicaid Policy

Services provided by assisted living facilities in Iowa are covered by the Medicaid 1915 (c) Elderly Waiver program, which is administered by the Department of Health and Social Services.

Assisted Living Facility Requirements

Iowa does not require that assisted living facilities have apartment-style units. Resident rooms must be either single- or double-occupancy and have a private bathroom outfitted with a sink, a toilet and a tub or shower. Units are not required to have kitchens.

Medication Management Regulations

Residents who can self-administer their medications are permitted to do so, and the facility's staff is able to provide medication assistance as needed.

Nurses can delegate medication administration services to unlicensed staff members. In Iowa, administration includes reminding or prompting the resident to take their medication, opening the container with the resident’s verbal permission, reading the instructions and information on the label and transferring the medication from its original container to an appropriate dispensing container.

If a facility administers medication or provides health-related care, then an RN must be available to monitor each resident who receives medication administered by the facility to ensure that the medication is taken as directed and that there are no adverse reactions. Monitoring should occur on a quarterly basis or after a resident experiences a significant change in their health or condition.

Staffing Requirements

Assisted living facilities in Iowa are required to hire a program manager who oversees the facility’s day-to-day operations and staffing. If the facility administers medication, an RN is required to delegate medication administration, monitor how medications are stored, ensure that physician orders are up-to-date and monitor residents’ health. Personnel is required to provide direct care for residents.

While Iowa has no minimum staffing ratios, the expectation is that a facility has enough personnel on hand to ensure that residents’ needs are met at all times.

Staff Training Requirements

All program managers that are hired after January 1, 2010, as well as delegating nurses, are required to complete and assisted living management or nursing course within six months of their hire date. All personnel must receive training on the facility’s fire safety and emergency procedures.

Background Checks for ALR Staff in Iowa

Before hiring a prospective employee, the manager must request a criminal history check from the Department of Public Safety and a dependent adult abuse record from the Department of Human Services. If the applicant has been convicted of a crime, their eligibility for hire is left to the discretion of the DHS.

Requirements for Reporting Abuse

All staff members of assisted living facilities in Iowa are mandated reporters, regardless of whether they work directly with residents. This means that if a nurse or personnel members sees or suspects abuse, neglect, mistreatment or exploitation, they are required to report it. Complaints can be made to the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals, Health Facilities Division or to the Iowa Office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman.

Assisted Living Facilities in Iowa



Top-Rated Caring Stars Winners in Iowa’s Caring Stars award program recognizes the best assisted living facilities across the U.S. based on reviews from family caregivers and older adults. This award is meant to help older adults and their loved ones find the best assisted living or in-home care option in their area. The list below shows up to 10 listings that have won the most Caring Stars annual awards in their state, sorted by their current overall average rating. For a complete list of Caring Stars winners for each year, please visit our Caring Stars info center.


Woodlands Creek Retirement Community

Clive, IA $$$

28 reviews


The Keystones of Cedar Rapids

Cedar Rapids, IA $$$

25 reviews


Silvercrest Garner Retirement Community

Davenport, IA $$$

17 reviews

River Bend Assisted Living

Cascade, IA Cost Levels

4 reviews


Senior Star at Elmore Place

Davenport, IA $$

11 reviews


Bickford of Urbandale

Urbandale, IA $$

15 reviews

Western Home Communities

Cedar Falls, IA Cost Levels

6 reviews


Whispering Creek Retirement Community

Sioux City, IA $$$

7 reviews


The Villages at Marion

Marion, IA Cost Levels

11 reviews