Seniors aged 65 and older account for 14.3% of Georgia’s population of 10,617,423, and there are 22,894 nursing home residents in the state. Skilled nursing facilities in Georgia provide 24/7 medical care, supervision and recreational programming for adults with complex medical needs that cannot be safely met in a less restrictive setting. 

Georgia seniors can access high-quality acute and emergency health care service at over 170 hospitals including the nationally ranked Emory University Hospital in Atlanta and Gwinnett Medical Center in Lawrenceville. The state is also home to a number of VA medical centers and clinics including the Atlanta VA Medical Center and the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center

Genworth Financial’s 2020 Cost of Care Survey lists the average monthly cost of semiprivate nursing home care in Georgia at $6,722, while a private room in a skilled nursing facility runs about $7,173. This guide highlights nursing home care costs in Georgia, and how those costs compare to neighboring states. There’s also an overview of Medicaid and other programs that include nursing home benefits, links to free and low-cost resources for seniors and their families, and a summary of the state regulations regarding skilled nursing facilities. 

The Cost of Nursing Home Care in Georgia

The average monthly cost of a semiprivate nursing home room in Georgia is $6,722, which is $1,034 below the national average rate of $7,756. Average rates in neighboring Alabama are slightly more affordable at $6,540, while the same level of care is costlier in Tennessee ($7,072), South Carolina ($7,298) and North Carolina ($7,300). Just south of Georgia, nursing home costs are significantly higher in Florida, where semiprivate care rates average $8,660 per month. 

$6722

Georgia

$7756

The United States

$6540

Alabama

$7072

Tennessee

$7298

South Carolina

$7300

North Carolina

$8660

Florida

Throughout Georgia, nursing home rates range from $6,266 in Athens to $7,841 in Valdosta. Rates in Gainesville ($6,388), Augusta ($6,509) and Savannah ($6,540) are below the state average, while rates are above-average in Macon ($6,783), Atlanta ($6,950) and Dalton ($7,513).  

$6266

Athens

$6388

Gainesville

$6509

Augusta

$6540

Savannah

$6783

Macon

$6950

Atlanta

$7513

Dalton

$7841

Valdosta

Nursing home care is the highest level of long-term care in Georgia, and this type of care is geared towards those who need 24/7 medical support to manage complex chronic conditions. Seniors who opt to remain in their own homes while receiving support can expect to pay $1,355 per month for adult day health care services. This type of care generally involves nonmedical programming in a congregate setting on weekdays along with a nutritionally balanced daily lunch. 44 hours of weekly in-home care from a homemaker costs an average of $4,004 per month, and a home health aide is $4,099. Residential care in an assisted living facility costs an average of $3,500. 

$1355

Adult Day Health Care

$4004

Homemaker Services

$4099

Home Health Aide

$3500

Assisted Living Facility

Financial Assistance for Nursing Home Care in Georgia

Most people do not pay for skilled nursing care entirely out-of-pocket. Rather, they utilize financial assistance programs to help cover the cost of nursing care. Of public financial assistance programs, Medicaid provides the most comprehensive coverage of nursing home care. But, not all seniors are eligible for Medicaid. And because each state operates its own Medicaid program within federal guidelines, eligibility and benefits vary from state to state. Below, we provide more information on Medicaid in Georgia.

Georgia’s Medicaid Program

Nearly 2 million Georgians are enrolled in Medicaid, and seniors aged 65 and older make up about 25% of Medicaid beneficiaries in the state. Georgia’s 357 nursing homes have a total of 26,506 beds, and Medicaid benefits cover approximately 75% of skilled nursing facility costs in the state. Most nursing homes in Georgia accept Medicaid. Medicaid-covered seniors who require the level of care provided in a nursing home, and who have lived in a nursing home for at least 30 consecutive days that accept Medicaid payments may qualify to have their care costs covered by Medicaid.

In order for Medicaid to approve an application for nursing home benefits, the beneficiary needs to be certified by a licensed medical doctor as needing the level of care provided in a skilled nursing facility. Beneficiaries must require 24/7 nursing care due to one or more physical and/or mental impairments, and that care cannot be safely delivered in a less-restrictive setting. 

Medicaid Eligibility in Georgia

Georgia seniors aged 65 and older may qualify for Medicaid if they: 

  • Reside in Georgia and are an American citizen or lawfully admitted immigrant
  • Have a monthly income of $2,382 or less from all sources, including pensions and investments
  • Own no more than $2,000 in countable assets such as stocks and bonds, cash and recreational real estate

If the applicant owns a home in which they reside, the assessed value of that home cannot exceed $603,000. 

Seniors can apply online through Gateway Georgia or in-person at the nearest Department of Human Services office. 

Alternative Financial Assistance Options

  • Medicare: Medicare will cover the cost of one’s care in a skilled nursing facility for the first 20 days of their stay, and a portion of the costs up until day 100. After 100 days, the individual is responsible for all costs. Seniors must also have a “qualifying hospital stay” of at least 3 days prior to their admission to a nursing home in order to qualify for Medicare coverage.
  • Aid and Attendance: Veterans 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 skilled nursing care.
  • Reverse Mortgages: If you own a home, you may be able to use a reverse mortgage to help pay for nursing 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. This type of funding can be especially useful for married couples when only one partner needs nursing care, as the other residents of the home may continue living there. Reverse mortgage loans do need to be repaid with interest, typically within 12 months of receiving the loan.
  • Long-Term Care Insurance: Seniors who already have long-term care insurance may be covered for skilled nursing care. Most policies cover at least a portion of the cost of nursing home care, but it depends on the specific policy terms. Note that older adults who are already in need of skilled nursing care will not be eligible to sign up for a LTC insurance policy.

Free and Low-Cost Resources for Seniors in Georgia

In addition to Medicaid, Georgia seniors and their families can access a number of free and low-cost resources including legal support, health insurance counselling and advocacy services. 

ResourceContact Service 
Aging and Disability Resource Connection 1-866-552-4464The Aging and Disability Resource Center serves as a centralized source of information, resources and referrals for seniors and adults living with disabilities. It offers free assistance to seniors who need help accessing long-term care services and finding local resources. It also assists seniors  with Social Security and Medicaid. 
Georgia Department of Veterans Service(404) 656-2300The Georgia Department of Veterans Service helps veterans, survivors and dependents access their maximum entitlements through county, state and federal programs. Clients can visit the nearest GVVS field office for assistance with VA pension applications and appeals, register for burial benefits and request service records. 
Georgia Senior Legal Hotline(888) 257-9519The Atlanta Legal Aid Society operates the Georgia Senior Legal Hotline, a free statewide resource for low-income seniors who need legal assistance with non-criminal issues. Volunteer lawyers and paralegals provide basic legal information on issues such as estate planning, health insurance and guardianship, and can refer callers to local in-person legal clinics. 
Georgia Long-Term Care Ombudsman(866) 522-4464Georgia’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman works to protect the rights of long-term care residents statewide. A network of state-certified volunteer ombudsmen provide free information on long-term care laws and regulations to long-term care residents and their families, and ombudsmen are available to help resolve disputes involving nursing homes. If necessary, ombudsmen can escalate a complaint or concern on behalf of a long-term care resident. 
Alzheimer’s Association — Georgia Chapter(800) 272-3900The Georgia Chapter of the national Alzheimer’s Association provides a wide range of services to people living with memory loss, their families and caregivers. Free services include in-person and online caregiver support groups and self-care programs, educational seminars and referrals to local dementia care resources. 
Area Agencies on Aging(866) 552-4464Georgia’s statewide network of 13 Area Agencies on Aging provides a variety of free and low-cost services to seniors aged 60 and older. Seniors can contact their local AAA for assistance with transportation, Medicaid counseling and help with accessing long-term care services. 

Nursing Home Laws and Regulations in Georgia

Skilled nursing facilities, also known as nursing homes, are inspected, licensed and regulated by the Georgia Department of Community Health, Healthcare Facility Regulation office. Georgia’s Rules of Department of Community Health, Chapter 111-8-56, Healthcare Facility Regulation, Nursing Homes include regulations designed to ensure optimal health and safety for long-term care residents. 

Licensing RequirementsGeorgia nursing homes that participate in Medicaid and/or Medicare programs must successfully pass federal certification inspections administered by Georgia’s Healthcare Facility Regulation office, the designated federal inspection agency. Every nursing home must be under the direct supervision of a licensed nursing home administrator.
Staffing RequirementsLicensed nursing homes must have a least one registered, licensed undergrad or licensed practical nurse on-site and designated as shift leader at all times. While there are no set staffing levels, facilities must ensure that sufficient staff are on-hand to provide at least 2 hours of direct care to every resident every 24 hours. Dining aides cannot be counted as direct care staff, and overnight caregivers must be awake and on-duty throughout the night. 
Staff Training RequirementsEvery facility must have a registered nurse employed for at least 40 hours per week as the director of nursing services. The staff team must include at least one licensed medical doctor and a dentist. All nursing personnel must participate in an ongoing education program delivered by a registered nurse and supervised by the director of nursing services.
Admission RestrictionsA licensed nursing facility can only admit and retain residents who can be safely cared for within the facility, and who have been referred by a physician. Facilities must have a written transfer agreement with at least one acute care hospital to ensure continuity of care for residents with care needs that cannot be safely accommodated within the facility. 
Care Planning RequirementsNew residents must be thoroughly assessed by a physician within 48 hours of admission to a nursing home. A comprehensive care plan outlining the admitting diagnosis, treatment and medication orders, emergency contacts and medical history must be prepared and reviewed by a physician every 30 days for the first 90 days, and on a regular basis following the initial placement period. 
Dietary and  Nutritional Services RequirementsNursing homes are required to employ a dietitian licensed by the American Dietetic Association for a minimum of 8 hours per month. The dietitian must design a nutritionally balanced menu that includes meals served no more than 5 hours apart during the day plus between-meal snacks. Breakfast must be served no later than 14 hours following the previous evening meal, and facilities must maintain a 3-day emergency supply of non-perishable foods. 
Specialized Rehabilitative ServicesNursing homes may offer physical therapy, occupational therapy and other specialized rehab services. When offered, these services must be provided by a licensed therapist, and a therapy record must be maintained for each patient. 
Medication and Pharmaceutical ServicesMedication storage and administration must comply with all state and federal laws and regulations. Prescription medications can only be administered by licensed medical professionals, and self-administration of medications among residents is discouraged. 
Activities Requirements Nursing homes need to offer age-appropriate social and recreational programming. 
Infection Control Requirements Nursing homes must work to prevent the spread of infectious diseases between staff and patients. Any direct care staff with a communicable illness or open sore cannot work until fully recovered. Patients who exhibit signs of a communicable disease or illness must be isolated while contagious. 
Medicaid CoverageGeorgia Medicaid pays the care costs for beneficiaries who require placement in a nursing home for a period of 30 days or longer. Although licensed nursing homes are not required to accept reimbursement from Medicaid, the vast majority of skilled nursing facilities in the state are Medicaid-certified.