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Memory Care in Iowa

Iowa is home to more than 3.2 million people, with 17.7% of those residents being adults 65 and older, according to Census Bureau data. That segment of Iowa’s population is at a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s and other memory-loss disorders, which are on the rise. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, the disease affects about 6.5 million American seniors and is expected to jump to 12.7 million by 2050. Information from the CDC shows an increase of 16.9% in Alzheimer’s-related deaths in Iowa between 2016 and 2020. That’s lower than the overall death rate, which increased by 23.83%.

Iowa seniors can find support from many dementia care communities available in the state. With 24-hour staffing and safe, homelike memory care communities, Iowans affected by Alzheimer’s and other memory-loss disorders can receive compassionate, tailored care that can help slow cognitive decline. Residents have access to medical care, socialization opportunities and assistance with daily tasks. This guide looks at the advantages and disadvantages of living in Iowa as well as memory care costs and resources.

The Cost of Memory Care in Iowa

Note: Due to increased licensing requirements and care services, memory care typically costs 20-30% more than assisted living services despite being provided in the same setting. No nationwide cost data is available, so we estimate memory care costs by increasing assisted living rates in the 2021 Genworth Cost of Care Survey by 25%.

In Iowa, older adults pay $5,459 per month for memory care, which is affordable compared to the national rate of $5,625. In Minnesota, memory care residents pay $5,635 for care, and in Illinois, rates are comparable at $5,610. Seniors in Nebraska pay $5,095, and in South Dakota, memory care costs are estimated at $4,188. Missouri has some of the cheapest memory care rates in the nation with fees coming in at $3,750.

Memory care costs in Iowa vary by several hundred dollars depending on where an individual obtains care. Sioux City is the cheapest city for care, with rates coming in at $5,185 per month, and in Davenport, care costs are consistent with the state median at $5,438. In Dubuque, memory care facilities charge $5,656 for services. Seniors in Waterloo pay $5,709, and in Cedar Rapids, residents pay $5,935. Des Moines is the costliest surveyed city for care, with residents paying $6,004.

Cedar Rapids




Des Moines




Sioux City




Adult day care is the cheapest long-term care option in Iowa, with older adults paying $1,353 per month for services. Assisted living, which provides residential care for those without memory impairments, costs $4,367 per month. For those with dementia, memory care costs about $1,100 more at $5,459. In-home care and home health care are a little costlier at $5,529 and $5,577, respectively, and seniors in nursing homes pay $6,874 for semiprivate rooms and $7,452 for private accommodations.

Memory Care


In-Home Care


Home Health Care


Adult Day Care


Assisted Living


Nursing Home (semiprivate)


Nursing Home (private)


Does Medicaid Cover Memory Care in Iowa?

Note: For the purposes of this guide, when we say “Memory Care” we are referring to memory care provided in a “social setting,” such as an Assisted Living Facility. This is the most common way to receive Memory Care and is the best fit for all but the frailest seniors. Sometimes the actual service of memory care can be provided in a Nursing Home (“medical setting”), so the financial assistance options will be very different. To learn more about the financial assistance options available for memory care provided in a nursing home, read our guide to Nursing Home Care in Iowa.

Iowa Medicaid provides robust health insurance coverage for qualifying individuals in the state, helping them obtain necessary medical services despite financial limitations. While this program covers nursing home and home-based care directly, seniors must enroll in the Elderly Waiver to get coverage for memory care services.

What Memory Care Services Are Covered by Medicaid in Iowa

Through the Elderly Waiver, Iowa Medicaid covers a broad range of memory care services, bridging the gap between the services an individual needs and what they’re able to afford. Under this program, seniors meet with an interdisciplinary team that assesses their care needs and develops an individualized comprehension plan.   

Memory Care Waiver Programs in Iowa

Elderly Waiver 

The Elderly Waiver is a Home and Community-Based Services Waiver that provides funding for residential care, including memory care, for seniors who would otherwise be at risk of nursing home placement. The services an individual receives are based on their unique needs and may include: 


  • Adult day care 
  • Assisted living and memory care services 
  • Assistive devices 
  • Case management 
  • Chore services 
  • Emergency response systems 
  • Skilled nursing services 
  • Nutritional counseling 
  • Respite 
  • Companion services 
  • Transportation for errands and medical appointments 


To qualify for services, applicants must need at least one covered service during each calendar quarter, and they must live in a facility able to provide the service. They must be at least 65 years old, legal U.S. citizens or residents and residents of Iowa. Before they can receive services, the Iowa Medicaid Enterprise, Medical Services Unit, must determine that they need nursing home or skilled nursing services.  

To get more information on the Elderly Waiver or to apply for coverage, seniors can contact their county’s Iowa Department of Human Services office.  

How to Know if You’re Eligible for Medicaid in Iowa

To qualify for Medicaid, seniors in Iowa must meet income guidelines. These guidelines are consistent with the financial eligibility criteria for Supplemental Security Income. Single applicants may have an annual income of up to $10,092, and they may have up to $2,000 in countable assets. Married applicants, whether they’re applying alone or along with their spouse, can have a joint annual income of up to $15,132 and up to $3,000 in countable assets. Iowa provides several avenues to help those whose income and assets exceed these guidelines to qualify for care.  

2022 Medicaid Income Limits for Seniors in Iowa 

NameIncome limits*Asset limits
Single Applicant $10,092$2,000
Two-Person Household  (Only One Person Applying) $15,132$3,000
Two-Person Household 
(Both People Applying) 

*Per year 

In addition to meeting financial criteria, Medicaid applicants must meet criteria pertaining t their age, their citizenship status and where they live. To be eligible, seniors must be: 


  • At least 65 years old 
  • Assessed by a medical team and found to need nursing home level of care 
  • Able to obtain waiver services for less than the cost of nursing home care 
  • Permanent residents of Iowa 
  • Citizens or legal residents of the United States 


How to Apply for Medicaid in Iowa

Seniors can apply for Medicaid in person by visiting their local Department of Human Services office. Alternately, they can apply for services online through the DHS Services Portal.

Information You Will Need 

Seniors need to provide several pieces of information to prove their eligibility for Medicaid and its waivers. These include:


  • Birth certificate 
  • Driver’s license or state-issued ID 
  • Social Security card 
  • Copies of mortgage or lease agreements 
  • Medical records 
  • Proof of all income and assets 
  • Information for any other health insurance coverage, including Medicare and TRICARE 

How to Get Help Applying for Medicaid

Applying for Medicaid can be a confusing process, but fortunately, seniors and families in Iowa have several resources to turn to for support and guidance. Through the following agencies and helplines, Medicaid applicants can get help with navigating the process, understanding their benefits, obtaining memory care coverage and resolving issues such as denied applications or services.

ProgramContactServices provided
Iowa Medicaid Member Services(800) 338-8366Iowa Medicaid Member Services operates a helpline seniors and families can call for one-on-one assistance with understanding Medicaid’s benefits and the process for applying for the Elderly Waiver. The helpline is available on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For those who are hard-of-hearing, deaf or have difficulty speaking, Relay Iowa is available at (800) 735-2942.
Managed Care Ombudsman Program(866) 236-1430Iowa’s Managed Care Ombudsman Program advocates for Medicaid beneficiaries and applicants, ensuring their applications and claims are handled fairly. Seniors and their representatives can contact the ombudsman for information on Medicaid and the Elderly Waiver, as well as assistance with the application process.
American Council on AgingContact FormThe American Council on Aging outlines eligibility criteria for Iowa Medicaid, including specifics regarding income and asset limits, what qualifies as countable assets and an overview of the Medicaid waivers available. It also provides information on how to find Medicaid planners who help those over income and asset limits qualify for services.
Department of Human Services(515) 281-3094Through the Department of Human Services, seniors can appeal denied Medicaid applications. The website has appeal forms available in English and Spanish that individuals can fill out to request that their application be reconsidered. Seniors can call the Appeals Section for help with filling out the application.
Iowa Legal Aid(800) 532-1275Iowa Legal Aid has legal professionals who help older adults apply for Medicaid. Through their local office, applicants get one-on-one assistance with navigating the application and appeals process, understanding their benefits and enrolling in the Elderly Waiver.

Does Medicare Cover Memory Care in Iowa?

The short answer is that no, Medicare does not cover the cost of memory care in Iowa. As was mentioned above, this doesn’t apply to Memory Care received in a Nursing Home. Since it is the most common to receive memory care in a “social setting” (such as an assisted living facility), Medicare won’t be a viable financial assistance option for most seniors who need Memory Care. However, Medicare will 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 Memory Care in a nursing home, and for Medicare-related resources, see our guide to Nursing Homes in Iowa.

Other Financial Assistance Options for Memory Care in Iowa

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 Memory Care affordable.

NameHow To ApplyHow It Works
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 Memory Care.
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 Memory Care. 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 Memory Care. 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 Memory Care will not typically be eligible to sign up for a LTC insurance policy.

Free and Low-Cost Resources for Seniors in Iowa

Iowa has numerous resources for seniors and families affected by dementia, helping them connect with care, training and community-based services. Through the following agencies, Iowa residents can find support groups, obtain options counseling and get the information they need to make informed decisions regarding long-term care.

Alzheimer's Association Iowa Chapter(800) 272-3900The Alzheimer’s Association Iowa Chapter serves all 99 counties in the state. It operates events throughout the year including conferences, festivals and early-stage engagement activities to help families connect, and it hosts in-person and virtual support groups for seniors and families affected by Alzheimer's. The organization also has a Community Resource Finder that lets site visitors locate legal and financial counselors, medical providers and social services agencies in their regions, and it has a helpline staffed 24 hours per day.
Alzheimer's Disease & Related Dementias ProgramContact FormThe Alzheimer’s Disease & Related Dementias Program is operated by the Iowa Department of Public Health and provides comprehensive information on dementia, including possible causes and associated risks, common symptoms and how to manage related behaviors. It also lists resources for seniors and families affected by dementia, including wellness resources, tools for caregivers and information on state initiatives.
Iowa Association of Area Agencies on Aging(515) 729-8846Iowa Association of Area Agencies on Aging operates independent agencies throughout the state where those aged 60 and over access supportive services such as options counseling, adult day care, referrals and care consultations. The association also operates Dementia Friends Iowa, which hosts community education sessions on issues related to dementia.
Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs(515) 252-4698The Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs administers state benefits including the Injured Veterans Grant, tax credits and assistance with federal VA benefits such as disability compensation and pensions. The department also runs the Iowa Veterans Home, which is located in Marshalltown and is among the largest veterans’ homes in the nation with over 550 residents.
Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman(515) 725-3308The Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman is an independent agency that advocates for the rights of Iowans living in long-term care facilities, including memory care facilities. Seniors, families and facility visitors can contact that ombudsman with concerns regarding resident treatment, quality of care and the facility’s cleanliness. The ombudsman can also serve as an impartial mediator in conflicts among family members or with memory care facilities regarding a loved one’s care.
Senior Health Insurance Information Program(800) 351-4664SHIIP is a free program that provides information, advice and assistance regarding Medicare. Through the program, seniors get unbiased answers to questions about Original Medicare benefits and private alternatives such as Medicare Advantage. Counselors can help older adults determine whether they qualify for Medicaid and Medicare Savings Programs, which can help them afford medical and long-term care costs. They also help seniors recognize and prevent Medicare fraud.
Iowa Care Planning Council(800) 989-8137The Iowa Care Planning Council is organized by the National Care Planning Council, a nationwide nonprofit organization that provides comprehensive information on issues that affect older adults. Through this resource, seniors can find information on paying for memory care services, including taking out reverse mortgage loans, applying for veterans’ benefits and purchasing long-term care insurance. The council also has an updated list of memory care facilities in Iowa.

Memory Care Laws and Regulations in Iowa

The Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals, Health Facilities Division, oversees and regulates assisted living facilities (known as “assisted living programs” or “ALPs”) in the state. In Iowa, certain ALPs can become certified to provide memory care services if the Department approves its policies, staff training plan, safety procedures, service plan, and more. 

Scope of CareDementia-specific residential care facilities and assisted living programs provide 24-hour personal assistance in a homelike environment that allows for self-directed care while promoting individual choice, dignity, privacy and independence. Certified units may accept residents with Stages 4 through 7 dementia as rated on the Global Deterioration Scale.
FacilitiesTo become a certified memory care unit, RCFs and ALPs must provide written policies and procedures regarding service plans and staffing. They must also establish admission and discharge criteria specific to dementia or Alzheimer’s. Additionally, all exits must have door alarms and specialized locking systems that can be disabled during an emergency.
Care PlansIndividuals must be assessed before admission into a dementia-specific assisted living program. Programs for residents with cognitive impairments must include scheduled and unscheduled activities based on the individual’s interests and abilities. Care plans are typically established by a multidisciplinary team and must be reassessed as needed or following significant changes in the residents’ health or cognitive status.
Medication ManagementDementia-specific units permit medication administration by the resident or by qualified staff members. Employees can assist residents with medication reminders, prompting and other setup procedures. In most cases, such activities must be overseen by a registered nurse.
StaffingNursing aides who care for cognitively impaired individuals must complete 75 hours of hands-on training, including 16 hours of precontact instruction. All personnel involved in dementia-specific programs must complete eight hours of relevant training at the beginning of their employment and during each consecutive year. Training focuses on 12 areas relevant to cognitively impaired residents. Similar rules apply to residential care homes. Background checks are required.
Medicaid CoverageThe Iowa HCBS Elderly Waiver covers the cost of self-directed attendant services and personal supports provided by residential care facilities and dementia-specific assisted living programs.
Reporting AbuseElder abuse occurring within a licensed health care facility must be reported to the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals at 877-686-0027 or by email at Iowa law requires allegations of misconduct to be investigated by an expert with special training related to abuse and dementia.

Frequently Asked Questions

Directory of Memory Care Facilities in Iowa

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Memory Care in Iowa

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