Washington, the northwesternmost state in the country, is home to several national parks and the iconic Space Needle. The state has a population of 7.7 million, of which more than 1.1 million are seniors. Washington has two high-performing hospitals, including the University of Washington Medical Center and the Virginia Mason Medical Center.

Our 2022 Senior Living Report ranks Washington 40th. In terms of the availability of healthcare and patient satisfaction, the state is close to the national average. However, housing costs are above average and the state has a high crime rate, making it a less desirable place to live. The air and water quality in Washington is above average, though, which may be of importance to seniors living with certain medical conditions. Seniors in Washington pay an average of $6,000 per month for assisted living.

This guide covers the cost of assisted living in Washington and discusses some options seniors have for covering their care costs. In addition, it lists agencies that provide information, advocacy and support to aging adults living in the state.

The Cost of Assisted Living in Washington

The Genworth Financial Cost of Care Survey 2021 lists the average cost of assisted living in Washington as $6,000. This is far above the national average. Seniors living in nearby Idaho pay less for assisted living, with average fees of $3,838. The cost of care in Montana is also slightly lower, at $4,450. In Oregon, however, seniors pay just a little less for similar services, with facilities typically charging $5,045 per month.

$6000

Washington

$4500

The United States

$5045

Oregon

$3838

Idaho

$4450

Montana

Across the state of Washington, assisted living prices vary widely. Being a large city, Seattle has some of the costliest facilities, with average fees of $6,750. Slightly east in Wenatchee, assisted living communities charge $5,750 per month. Mount Vernon and Longview are also relatively expensive places for seniors who require support, with typical fees of $5,500 and $5,300 per month, respectively. Costs are closer to the national average in Spokane ($4,888) and Olympia ($4,805). Walla Walla, in the eastern part of the state, is one of the cheapest locations, with an average fee of just $3,211 per month.

$6750

Seattle

$5750

Wenatchee

$5500

Mount Vernon

$5300

Longview

$4888

Spokane

$4805

Olympia

$3211

Walla Walla

In addition to assisted living, seniors have several other care options. Home care and home health care services, which are provided in a senior’s own home, cost slightly more than assisted living, with fees of $6,547 and $6,578, respectively. Adult day health care, offered during office hours in a group setting, is much more affordable. Providers typically charge around $2,600. Nursing homes are the most expensive option, with 24-hour skilled medical care costing $9,429 for a semiprivate room or $10,466 for a private room.

$6000

Assisted Living

$6547

Home Care

$6578

Home Health Care

$2600

Adult Day Health Care

$9429

Nursing Home Care (semiprivate)

$10466

Nursing Home Care (semiprivate)

Does Medicaid Cover Assisted Living in Washington?

The Washington state Medicaid program, also known as Apple Health, covers part of the cost of care in an assisted living facility. There are several options applicable to seniors who wish to live in an assisted living facility, including the Medicaid Personal Care program and the COPES waiver. The Medicaid Personal Care program provides support with the cost of personal care services for seniors who don’t require a nursing home level of care. The COPES waiver is aimed at those who do need a higher level of care, and it helps those seniors receive that care in a community setting.

What Assisted Living Services Are Covered by Medicaid in Washington?

Washington’s Medicaid programs support low-income individuals who require personal care support in the community or in assisted living facilities. The programs cover:

  • Help with the activities of daily living
  • Assistive devices and durable medical equipment
  • Medication support

The Medicaid Personal Care (MPC) program is gradually being replaced by the Community First Choice Option (CFCO) program. However, to be eligible for CFCO, seniors must require institutional levels of care. Seniors living in Pierce and King counties may qualify for the New Freedom Medicare Waiver. This local waiver covers the cost of assistive devices and personal care support.

Assisted Living Waiver Programs in Washington

Washington Medicaid Personal Care

The Washington Medicaid Personal Care Program covers seniors who have a low income and who require support with the activities of daily living. Unlike some other waivers, it covers those who do not require a nursing home level of care. Those classified as noninstitutional categorically needy (CN) or eligible for the Alternative Benefit Plan (ABP) may qualify for the MPC waiver. Most Medicaid services are provided by Managed Care Organizations (MCOs), and the MPC covers a variety of services, including:

  • Assistance with the activities of daily living
  • Medication administration
  • Personal emergency response systems
  • Transportation assistance
  • Durable medical equipment
  • Care coordination
  • Nurse delegation
  • Physical, occupational or speech therapy

Room and board is not covered under the MPC waiver. To be eligible for the MPC, seniors must be aged 65 or over and on a low income. As of January 2022, the income limit is $801 per month, and the asset limit is set to $2,000 for single applicants or $3,000 for couples. Individuals will receive a health assessment as part of the application process. To apply for the MPC, seniors should contact their nearest Aging Services Organization.

Community First Choice Option Program

The Community First Choice Option Program is a waiver aimed at seniors who are classed as requiring a nursing home level of care. The waiver is intended to help them remain within the community by providing the support they need to maintain their independence. The program allows seniors to manage their own care and offers:

  • The option to hire anyone, including family members
  • Support with personal care tasks
  • Transportation assistance
  • Housework assistance
  • Basic nursing support
  • Transition assistance for those moving into a long-term care facility
  • Personal emergency response systems

To be eligible, seniors must be aged 65 or over and assessed as needing either nursing home care or an intermediate level of care. The asset limits are the same as for the MPC waiver. However, the income limits are higher — $2,349 per month for an individual applicant. Seniors can apply for the CFCO by contacting their local Aging Services Organization.

How to Know If You’re Eligible For Medicaid In Washington

The eligibility requirements for Medicaid in Washington are set by the Washington State Health Care Authority. Medicaid is open to seniors aged 65 and over and those living with disabilities. The income and asset limits for Medicaid depend on whether applicants are classed as medically needy and whether they qualify for Social Security.

The basic criteria are:

  • Aged 65 or over
  • Are blind or living with a disability
  • Meet income and asset limits

As of 2022, an individual applicant may have a monthly pre-tax income of no more than $801.

2022 Basic Medicaid Income Limits for Seniors in Washington

Annual Income Limits

Asset Limits

Single Applicant

$9,612

$2,000

Two-Person Household

(Only One Person Applying)

$15,132

$137,400

Two-Person Household
(Both People Applying)

$15,132

$3,000

The income limits for Medicaid waivers are higher than those for basic Medicaid. To qualify for the waivers, seniors must meet additional requirements. As part of the application process, the senior will be given a care assessment to confirm that they require at least an intermediate level of care. This is defined as needing help with more than one of the following:

  • Activities of daily living
  • Medication administration
  • Health support

Seniors are not required to reside in a long-term care facility to receive help under Medicaid waivers. However, they must be assessed as needing a similar level of care to that provided in a nursing home or assisted living facility.

How to Apply for Medicaid In Washington

Seniors can apply for Medicaid by contacting their nearest Aging Services provider, filling out an application and mailing it in. Applicants may be asked to provide the following documentation:

  • Proof of residency / citizenship (e.g. passport)
  • Proof of age (e.g. birth certificate)
  • Bank statements and proof of income, such as wage slips or benefit papers
  • Proof of assets (including property deeds and information about retirement accounts, shares, etc.)
  • Information about any health insurance policies, including Medicare

How to Get Help Applying For Medicaid

Seniors who are confused by the Medicaid application process or who have questions about specific aspects can contact one of the following organizations for free, impartial advice. These organizations can offer assistance with applications, appeals or complaints.

Resource 

Contact 

Description 

(800) 562-6900

The Office of the Insurance Commissioner provides free advice about health insurance-related issues, including Medicare and Medicaid. Seniors who have complaints or concerns about the application process or who need help with claims can contact the commissioner for support. 

(877) 501-2233

The DSHS Customer Service Contact Center provides assistance with applications for Classic Medicaid and Medicaid appeals. Seniors can contact the center by telephone or use the online account system.

Online Only

Medicaid Planning Assistance provides detailed information about the Medicaid system in Washington, including income and asset requirements. It also provides a simple eligibility checker. 

Does Medicare Cover Assisted Living in Washington?

The short answer is that no, Medicare does not cover the cost of assisted living in Washington. 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 Washington.

Other Financial Assistance Options for Assisted Living in Washington

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.

.

How to Apply

How It Works

Aid and Attendance

Learn more and apply online at va.gov.

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 Assisted Living.

Reverse Mortgages

Learn more about your options and how to apply at ftc.gov

If 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) Insurance

Learn more about Long-Term Care Insurance and how to apply for a policy at acl.gov.

Seniors 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 Washington

Seniors living in Washington have access to a variety of resources that can help them access the care services and financial support they need. These not-for-profit organizations and government bodies offer help and advice for the state’s older adults.

Resource 

Contact 

Service 

Online Only

There are 13 Area Agencies on Aging in Washington state. Each of these agencies oversees local programs to support adults aged 60 and over, helping them access the care they need and plan for the future. The agency also supports families and caregivers. 

(800) 562-2308 

The Washington Department of Veterans’ Affairs connects veterans and their immediate relatives with the support they need. It can assist with applications for Aid & Attendance payments and other benefits, and it helps veterans access to health care or support such as placement in veterans' homes.

(888) 562-6028

The Washington State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program advocates for the rights of seniors living in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. It helps residents and their families when they have concerns about the standard of care at a facility and can address issues such as neglect or elder abuse.

(855) 741-6930

Washington State Bar Association runs a Moderate Means program that provides reduced-fee legal support to those who cannot afford legal assistance. The program covers civil legal issues including family law, housing and benefits. The association can also recommend sources for pro bono support. 

(800) 772-1213 

There are several Social Security field offices in Washington state. Seniors can visit these offices to apply for Social Security retirement income, supplemental income and disability insurance programs. The offices can also provide screening services for Medicaid.

The Washington State Association of Senior Centers helps local seniors find a senior center in their area. The centers that have joined the association are committed to providing older adults with a high standard of service, including educational opportunities and enriching activities.

COVID-19 Rules for Assisted Living in Washington

The following information is based on research done on several government websites, including The Washington State Department of Human Services and The CDC. These rules apply to nursing homes and other types of senior living facilities. We’ve most recently updated this data on 3/11/2022, but since COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving pandemic, contact your local senior living facility or Area Agency on Aging for more specific and up-to-date information.

Visitation Policies

Rules for Washington Communities

Are loved ones allowed to visit to provide emotional support?

Yes (Conditions Apply)

Are relatives allowed to visit for end-of-life care?

Yes

Are residents required to quarantine after visiting with a loved one?

No

Are visitors required to wear PPE (including masks) in order to visit residents?

Yes

Are non-medical contractors (such as hairdressers and entertainers) allowed in senior living facilities?

Yes

Does the state recommend or require that senior living facilities assist families with setting up virtual visit alternatives?

Yes

Are visitors checked for elevated temperatures?

Yes

Are visitors required to answer questions about health, travel, and potential virus contact?

Yes

Outings & Social Activities

Rules for Washington Communities

Are residents allowed to leave (errands, visiting family, etc.) for non-medical reasons?

Yes

Are residents who leave required to quarantine when they return?

No (Conditions Apply)

Are senior living communities required to cancel all group outings?

No

Are residents allowed to eat meals together in a common area?

Yes (Conditions Apply)

Are residents allowed to gather in common areas for group activites?

Yes (Conditions Apply)

*Note: This information was not available for this state, contact your local area agency on aging or senior living facility for more information.

COVID-19 Safety Measures for Staff and Residents

Rules for Washington Communities

Are staff members regularly required to do a temperature check?

Yes

Are staff members regularly tested for COVID-19?

Yes (Conditions Apply)

Are staff members members regularly required to do a health and safety screening, including questions about travel, contact with positive cases, etc?

Yes

Are residents regularly screened for COVID-19 symptoms?

Yes

Are residents regularly checked for elevated temperatures?

No

Are residents regularly tested for COVID-19?

Yes (Conditions Apply)

Assisted Living Laws and Regulations in Washington

Assisted living facilities in Washington are required to operate in accordance with the rules and regulations set by the Department of Social and Health Services Aging and Long Term Support Administration.  These regulations cover the standard of care, staffing requirements and health and safety rules for long-term care facilities.

WASHINGTON LAWS AND REGULATIONS

Assisted Living Service Plan Requirements 

Assisted living facilities must perform a health assessment on any prospective resident before admission. If this cannot be done, the assessment needs to be completed within 14 days of the resident's admission.

Assisted Living Admission Requirements 

Any seniors admitted to an assisted living facility must be able to walk on their own, unless the facility meets the requirements to house non-ambulatory residents. In addition, the facility is required to provide adequate medical care for residents living with a medical condition.

Assisted Living Scope of Care 

Assisted living facilities provide housing, meal service and personal care assistance. They may also provide medication reminders and other limited nursing services provided by a registered nurse. 

Assisted Living Medicaid Policy 

Medicaid in Washington does not cover the cost of room and board at an assisted living facility but can cover other costs of care in certain cases. Facilities that accept Medicaid must be licensed.

Assisted Living Facility Requirements 

Facilities licensed prior to 1989 may have up to four residents per room. Facilities licensed more recently may have up to two residents per room. Single-occupancy rooms must be at least 80 square feet. Rooms with more than one occupant must offer at least 70 square feet per resident.

Medication Management Regulations 

Assisted living facilities must offer medication assistance to residents. This includes providing medication reminders, helping residents open bottles and other similar tasks. These duties can be performed by caregivers who are not licensed medical professionals. Only licensed nurses or other medical professionals may provide medication administration, however. 

Staffing Requirements 

Assisted living facilities must have an administrator who oversees the day-to-day operation of the facility and trained staff members who provide care and facilitate activities. Caregivers must complete orientation and health and safety training when starting the job. Staff members cannot provide hands-on care to residents without supervision until the training is completed.

Staff Training Requirements 

Assisted living facility administrators must be at least 21 years of age. They must meet minimum education requirements before starting the job and are required to undergo regular continuing education.

Background Checks for Assisted Living 

Assisted living facilities are required to perform a criminal background check on all staff members. They must also perform a federal fingerprint check.

Requirements for Reporting Abuse 

Assisted living facility staff members are mandatory reporters. This means they are required to report abuse, neglect or abandonment. Residents who wish to report issues or concerns regarding the facility can do so by calling the Long-Term Care Ombudsman at (800) 737-7931.

Assisted Living Facilities in Washington (87)