Guide to Senior Living in Oregon
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 17.6% of Oregon’s 4.2 million residents were 65 and older in 2019. The percentage of older Oregonians is expected to grow to 21.7% by 2029, increasing the demand for senior living and other services provided to seniors. Oregon offers many opportunities for outdoor recreation, access to a variety of cultural attractions and lower tax rates for retirees than some other states, making it a great place for older adults to live.
Because Oregon has a higher cost of living than many states, seniors can expect to pay a little more for care. For instance, in 2019, the cost of assisted living in Oregon averaged $4,499 per month, which is almost $450 above the national average of $4,051. This guide provides an overview of the costs associated with each type of care, a look at how costs vary from one region to another and information on programs that may help defray the costs of care for Oregon seniors.
The Cost of Senior Living in Oregon
Note: There currently isn’t authoritative data on the average cost of Independent Living Facilities nationwide, so instead, we use the cost of Assisted Living to estimate it. Since the cost of Independent Living is typically 30-40% lower than the cost of Assisted Living, the numbers below were calculated by subtracting 35% from the cost of Assisted Living.
Note: Memory care is typically provided in communities licensed as assisted living facilities, and in general, costs 20-30% more than standard assisted living services. No authoritative cost data is available for this type of care, so we estimated memory care rates by adding 25% to assisted living fees in the Genworth 2021 Cost of Care Survey.
The Genworth 2021 Cost of Care Survey shows that senior living options in Oregon are higher than national averages. Thankfully, older Oregonians have a range of long-term care options to suit their needs and budget. Active seniors who don’t require medical or personal care services may find that independent living is a good fit. It is the most affordable option at $3,279 per month because it doesn’t provide daily personal assistance. However, seniors get a low-maintenance lifestyle that allows them time to enjoy retirement. Assisted living costs average $5,045 monthly. This type of care is a good option for seniors who need assistance with daily living activities.
Memory care is normally provided in assisted living facilities. It’s designed to assist people who have Alzheimer’s disease or a similar type of dementia. The extra care provided increases the cost for this service to $6,306. Nursing home care provides around-the-clock monitoring and a high level of medical care, including skilled nursing. Seniors with complex medical needs may find this is the best option, although it is the least affordable, with monthly costs averaging $10,342 for a semiprivate room.
The Cost of Assisted Living in Oregon
Assisted living in Oregon costs an average of $5,045 per month. Although this is high when compared to the national average of $4,500, Oregon is in the middle of the range when compared to its neighbors. Costs in Washington average $6,000, while in California the average price is $5,250. Idaho and Nevada are both more affordable than Oregon, with costs of $3,838 and $3,750, respectively.
The Cost of Nursing Home Care in Oregon
With a cost of $10,342 per month, nursing home care in Oregon is almost $2,500 more than the national average of $7,908. Prices are also high when compared to neighboring states. California’s costs are closest to Oregon’s, at $9,794. Washington and Nevada are middle of the range, with costs of $9,429 and $9,216, respectively. Idaho has the most affordable nursing home care in the area, at $8,517 per month.
Can You Use Medicaid to Pay for Senior Living in Oregon?
Medicaid in Oregon is known as the Oregon Health Plan, or OHP. It covers a range of long-term care services that may help seniors pay for assistance as they age. In particular, OHP covers nursing home care, assisted living and memory care directly through Medicaid. While nursing home care is covered in full, Medicaid only pays for the care services in an assisted living or memory care facility. Room and board are not covered. Assisted living and memory care coverage is offered through Community First Choice.
Independent living is not covered by Medicaid. However, Oregon has several home and community-based services waivers that may help seniors receive care while they remain living in the home. These waivers only provide in-home care; they can’t be used by people living in a group setting, such as assisted living.
|Medicaid Coverage Level||Type of Medicaid Coverage||Entitlement?*|
|Nursing Home Care||Full||Medicaid||Yes|
*Note: Entitlement programs mean that everyone who qualifies will receive coverage and be accepted into the programs. If the program is not “entitlement,” then participant caps could be in place, and there may be a waiting list.
Medicaid’s Coverage of Assisted Living & Memory Care in Oregon
Oregon’s K Plan, also known as Community First Choice, provides home and community-based support to people who require an institutional level of care. This means that they require care that is normally provided in a hospital or nursing home. This program is intended to delay or prevent a person’s entry into a nursing home. The services can be provided in the home, the home of a relative or in certain group settings, including assisted living and memory care facilities.
Applicants must be eligible for long-term care services through Medicaid. This is part of the Oregon Supplemental Income Program – Medical. Although the K Plan is offered as part of regular Medicaid, people who require long-term care can have more income than those who only need routine medical services. To ensure participants need a nursing home level of care, a functional needs assessment is done and an annual plan of care is developed. Annual recertification is required, although people with conditions that won’t improve, such as Alzheimer’s disease, are exempt.
The services provided through the K Plan help people stay in their community. For those living in a group setting, only the services provided are covered by the program, such as meals, activities of daily living, behavioral support, chore services, transport and assistive devices. There’s no Medicaid funding available for room and board.
People receiving services through the K Plan are also eligible for waivers in Oregon. However, participants can’t receive funding from both programs for the same service. It should also be noted that services through waivers aren’t generally available in group living situations.
To access this program, seniors must first apply for Medicaid. After being approved for Medicaid, people can apply through their local Seniors & Peoples with Physical Disabilities Office.
Medicaid’s Coverage of Nursing Home Care in Oregon
Nursing home care is covered in full for people with a low income. As with the K Plan, the income limits are higher than for those who need basic medical coverage. However, people in a nursing home can’t keep all their income; most goes to pay for care. Participants can keep a small amount for personal needs, which is currently $66.77 each month. A spousal income allowance and Medicare premiums are also taken out of the income before the nursing home is paid. This program is only available to people who have been assessed as needing a nursing home level of care.
Eligibility for Medicaid in Oregon
A person’s financial status is the most important eligibility criterion for Medicaid, as the program is designed to help those with low incomes. Applicants must meet income and asset limits to be eligible for the program. These limits differ depending on the type of Medicaid you’re applying for. The limits for regular Medicaid, also known as Aged, Blind and Disabled, are much lower than those for people who require long-term care.
Individuals or one spouse seeking long-term care assistance must have a monthly income of less than $2,523 and assets of less than $2,000 to qualify. The non-applicant spouse can have up to $137,400 worth of assets. The applicant may also give part of their income to their spouse to ensure they’re not impoverished. This is called the Minimum Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowance. For married couples with both spouses applying, the income limit is $5,046 and the asset limit is $4,000.
Not all assets are counted when calculating Medicaid eligibility. Exempt assets include personal belongings, an automobile and term life insurance. A person’s home is also exempt if they continue to live in it, intend to return or a non-applicant spouse remains living there.
2022 Oregon Medicaid Income Limits
|Income Limits*||Asset Limits|
|Two-Person Household (Only one applicant)||$30,276 for applicant||$2,000 for applicant $137,400 for non-applicant|
|Two-Person Household (Two applicants)||$60,552||$4,000|
Applicants for long-term services and support must also be:
- A resident of Oregon
- A U.S. national, citizen or qualified non-citizen
- In need of a nursing home level of care
Applying for Medicaid in Oregon
Seniors can apply for OHP online or using a paper application. Online applications are processed through the Oregon Eligibility (ONE) System. Paper applications in different languages can be printed from the OHP website. Alternatively, contact OHP Customer Service at (800) 699-9075 to have an application mailed. Paper applications can be returned via mail or fax, using the contact details on the form. Applications can also be returned to local ODHS offices.
Before You Apply
OHP officers must verify certain information to ensure seniors are eligible for benefits. Medicaid may ask for proof of:
- U.S. citizenship or immigration status
- Identity and date of birth
- Social Security Number
- Household Composition
How to Get Help
Navigating the Medicaid system can be confusing, so Oregon has several resources available to help claimants. There’s an extensive guide produced to assist people with applications and the Oregon Department of Human Services has offices and a customer helpline. There’s also a community partner program that can provide free help to applicants.
|Contact||What You Should Know|
|Application Guide||Online||The OHP Application Guide provides information about the details required in each question of the application form and documents that should be provided. It also lists the responsibilities of recipients, when changes need to be reported and how the estate recovery program works.|
|Community Partners||Listings available online||Community Partners provide a free service to help people enroll in the Oregon Health Plan. Community partner organizations and insurance agents providing this assistance are certified by the Oregon Health Authority.|
|ONE Customer Service||(800) 699-9075||ONE website has FAQs and a pre-screening to help people apply for services. The customer service team can help with technical problems, and seniors can also go into a local ODHS office for assistance applying for benefits.|
Can You Use Medicare to Pay for Senior Living in Oregon?
Unfortunately, Medicare does not cover the cost of assisted living, independent living, or memory care. Unlike nursing homes, these care types are not considered to be “clinical settings” and so are not eligible for Medicare coverage. That being said, those who live in these communities can still use Medicare to cover the cost of approved medications, doctor visits, medical equipment, etc.
When it comes to nursing home care, it gets much more complicated. Medicare does provide limited coverage for a qualified stay in a nursing home,but there are strict rules and requirements of which you should be aware. This benefit is available to seniors who have been hospitalized for at least three days, excluding the date of discharge.
Once you’ve met the hospitalization requirement, Medicare will pay for up to 100 days in a skilled nursing facility (per benefit period). While the first 20 days are covered in full, there is a daily coinsurance rate that must be paid starting on day 21. After day 100, seniors are responsible for the entire cost.
|Medicare Coverage||Medicare Coverage Duration||Coinsurance Requirement?|
|Nursing Home Care||Limited||100 Days Per Benefit Period||Yes – After 20 Days|
What Nursing Home Care Services Does Medicare Cover?
Medicare covers a number of specific services, including:
- A semiprivate room
- Skilled nursing services
- Physical therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Speech therapy
- Audiologist care
- Medical supplies
- Medical social services
- Nutritional counseling
- Ambulance transportation
What Nursing Home Care Services Aren’t Covered by Medicare?
Medicare does not cover long-term custodial care that addresses seniors’ day-to-day needs. This includes help with daily activities, such as bathing, dressing and using medical equipment.
Oregon has a variety of free resources that can help seniors understand their Medicare coverage, choose a plan and save money on premiums and copays. The resources below can help seniors navigate the system.
|Contact||What You Should Know|
|Senior Health Insurance Benefits Assistance||(800) 722-4134||Senior Health Insurance Benefits Assistance (SHIBA) has trained counselors available to help Oregonians with Medicare questions. It also conducts presentations to people interested in Medicare, including retirees looking for further information, and has a range of publications with further information available. SHIBA can put seniors in contact with local Medicare agents who can recommend Medicare plans.|
|Medicare||(800) 633-4227||Medicare has an extensive website that can help seniors find plans and providers, apply for benefits and understand what’s included. Customer service officers are also available by phone and live chat to answer questions about plans and the application process.|
|BenefitsCheckUp||(800) 794-6559||BenefitsCheckUp is a free service from the National Council on Aging. The website allows seniors to search for benefits in their local area. It can help reduce the cost of Medicare coverage or pay for services not covered by Medicare. There is also information about other benefits such as veterans’ benefits and Medicaid, which can help seniors access needed care.|
Are There Other Financial Assistance Options for Senior Living in Oregon?
Depending on your unique situation, there may be other financial assistance options to partially or fully cover the cost of senior living in Oregon. Below, we cover some of the common ways that seniors can make senior living options such as assisted living or memory care more affordable.
|How to Get Started||What You Should Know|
|Aid and Attendance||Apply online at va.gov.||If you are a veteran and you receive a VA pension, you may also be eligible for the Aid and Attendance benefit. This benefit takes the form of a monthly cash allowance that you receive in addition to your standard pension. This benefit is used by veterans who need long-term care services, including care received at an assisted living facility.|
|Reverse Mortgages||Research and learn about the different types at ftc.gov.||If you own a home, you may be able to use a reverse mortgage to access some of the equity in your home. Like traditional loans, reverse mortgages do need to be repaid with interest, typically within 12 months, so seniors should carefully weigh this option alongside other financing methods.|
|Long-Term Care (LTC) Insurance||Learn about how to receive LTC insurance benefits at acl.gov.||While those who currently need assisted living will typically not be eligible, if you purchased an LTC insurance policy in the past, you may be able to use it to help pay for assisted living. While most policies cover at least a portion of the cost, you still need to check the specific terms of your policy.|
Free Senior Living Resources for Seniors in Oregon
Seniors in Oregon can access a wide range of resources that can help them as they age. Government and nonprofit organizations offer support to people who live in their own homes or in long-term facilities, such as assisted living or memory care. Services include transport, care planning, support groups and more.
|Contact||What You Should Know|
|Oregon Project Independence||Contact local agencies||Oregon Project Independence (OPI) is a state-funded program that helps people who aren’t eligible for Medicaid to access long-term support. Recipients must either be over 60 or have dementia. Support is provided in a person’s home and can include bathing, dressing, personal care and medication management.|
|Area Agencies on Aging||Contact local office||Area Agencies on Aging are found throughout Oregon. They provide a range of services that can include congregate and home-delivered meals, transport, home care, senior centers and education. Exact programs vary based on the needs of the local senior community.|
|Aging and Disability Resource Connection||(855) 673-2372||The Aging and Disability Resource Connection has trained staff available who can help seniors connect with local resources that can help them as they age. The organization can also help seniors plan for future needs.|
|Long-Term Care Ombudsman||(800) 522-2602||Oregon’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman works to protect the rights of people living in long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Certified volunteers investigate complaints and help resolve issues, as well as advocate for improvements in the quality of care. The program can also provide consultations to seniors and their families to help them navigate the long-term care system.|
|Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs||(800) 692-9666||The Department of Veterans’ Affairs can help older adults who served in the military identify and apply for benefits they’re entitled to. The state also has two veterans’ homes that can provide skilled nursing and memory care to veterans and their spouses.|
|AARP Oregon||(866) 554-5360||AARP Oregon serves over 500,000 members around the state. It provides information to people aged 50 and over about new laws that may affect senior care and services. Social events are offered throughout the year, as well as training courses on topics such as safe driving and tax preparation. Seniors can join the organization to access benefits that include recreation discounts and a subscription to the magazine.|
|Alzheimer’s Association Oregon & Southwest Washington Chapter||(800) 272-3900||The Alzheimer’s Association is a national organization that provides information and assistance to people with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. Its helpline is available around-the-clock and offers referrals to local resources, crisis assistance and help with making care decisions. The Oregon chapter has offices in Portland, Salem, Eugene, Bend and Medford. These offices host support groups, early stage programs and more.|
COVID-19 Rules and Restrictions for Oregon Senior Living Facilities
The following information is based on research done on several government websites, including oregon.gov and cdc.gov. These rules apply to nursing homes and other types of senior living facilities. We’ve most recently updated this data on 2/13/2022, 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.
Visiting Loved Ones
|Can I visit my relative in person if he/she wants emotional support from me?||Yes (Conditions Apply)|
|Can I visit my relative in person for end-of-life compassion care?||Yes|
|Will my loved one be required to self-quarantine after I visit him or her?||No|
|Do I need to wear PPE and/or a cloth mask if I do visit my relative in person?||Yes|
|Are Hairdressers and other non-medical contractors still 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 being screened for elevated temperatures?||Yes|
|Are visitors being asked questions about health, travel, and potential virus contact?||Yes|
Outings and Group Activities
|Are residents allowed to leave the facility for non-medical reasons?||Yes|
|Are residents of senior living facilities who leave and return required to self-quarantine?||No (Conditions Apply)|
|Are senior living facilities required to cancel all group outings?||No|
|Are residents still eating together in the dining hall?||Yes (Conditions Apply)|
|Are facilities still allowed to host group activities within the community?||Yes (Conditions Apply)|
Safety Measures for Staff & Contractors
|Are staff members and contractors being screened for elevated temperatures?||Yes|
|Are staff members and contractors being tested for Coronavirus?||Yes (Conditions Apply)|
|Are staff members and contractors being asked questions about health, travel, and potential virus contact?||Yes|
Safety Measures for Residents
|Are staff members required to regularly screen residents for coronavirus symptoms?||Yes|
|Are residents relied on to screen themselves and self-report potential coronavirus symptoms?||No|
|Are staff members required to take residents’ temperatures?||Yes|
|Are residents being tested for coronavirus?||Yes (Conditions Apply)|
Senior Living Laws and Regulations in Oregon
Note: All these rules typically apply to non-clinical senior living facilities, such as independent living, assisted living, and memory care facilities. Nursing homes and other senior living facilities with a clinical setting may have additional or slightly different requirements and regulations.
In Oregon, the Department of Human Services is responsible for granting licenses to senior living facilities operating within the state. DHS also conducts inspections to ensure each facility is in compliance with all relevant regulations. To protect the health and safety of seniors living in Oregon’s senior living facilities, each facility must meet minimum requirements regarding staffing levels, employee training and administrator qualifications.
The Department of Human Services doesn’t require senior living facilities in Oregon to have a specific number of staff members on duty during each shift. Instead, facilities are required to have a sufficient number of “qualified awake” direct-care staff on duty to meet the scheduled and unscheduled needs of residents. If a facility employs staff members to perform housekeeping services, laundry services or other services that don’t qualify as direct care, direct-care staffing levels must be increased to ensure the well-being of residents. If DHS receives a complaint or has a concern about the safety of residents, it may require the facility to start meeting a specific staffing standard.
DHS also has special requirements for facilities that house residents in more than one building when the buildings aren’t connected to each other. In this case, the facility must have at least one qualified, awake direct-care staff member on duty in each building at all times.
Every facility must provide a pre-service orientation session before employees have unsupervised contact with residents. The orientation must include training on residents’ rights, infection control, emergency procedures, fire safety and requirements for reporting abuse and neglect. Employees hired to prepare and serve food must obtain a food handler’s certificate before performing their duties. During the orientation period, all staff members must receive written job descriptions outlining their duties.
Direct-care staff must fulfill additional orientation requirements. For example, all employees who provide direct care must complete a training program on working with residents who have dementia, including identifying and managing pain, preventing wandering, providing food/fluids and using a person-centered approach to care. Within 30 days of hire, all direct-care staff must demonstrate their knowledge regarding how to assist residents with activities of daily living, identification of changes in residents’ physical and mental functioning, food safety, changes associated with aging, and conditions that require further assessment, observation, treatment or reporting.
Before serving as the administrator of a senior living facility, an individual must complete a minimum of 40 hours of administrator training approved by Oregon’s Health Licensing Office. Administrators must also complete at least 20 hours of continuing education each year. Prior to employment as an administrator, an individual must also pass a criminal background check and tuberculin skin test.
Under the Oregon Administrative Rules, administrators must comply with minimum standards of practice and professional conduct. Administrators must be in charge of the facility at all times unless they have appointed a designee to fill the role in their absence. An administrator is also responsible for supervising all staff members and ensuring that the physical and emotional needs of residents are met.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does assisted living cost in Oregon?
In Oregon, assisted living costs approximately $4,499 per month, on average. Although this is higher than the national average of $4,051, it is much lower than the average cost of assisted living in nearby Washington.
Does Oregon Medicaid pay for assisted living?
Medicaid-eligible individuals may qualify to receive services through the Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE). The PACE program offers medical care, assisted living, in-home care and other services to help seniors stay healthy and independent. To qualify for this program, a senior must live in an area with a PACE plan and agree to receive services exclusively from PACE providers. For seniors who don’t qualify for Medicare or Medicaid, self-pay is also an option for seniors interested in the PACE program.
What are activities of daily living?
Activities of daily living are the basic activities an individual performs on a day-to-day basis. These activities include eating, getting dressed, using the bathroom and bathing. Seniors who need assistance with any of these activities may qualify for Medicare or Medicaid waivers, in-home services or other programs designed to help older adults remain in their homes or their communities.
What types of services are available in assisted living?
Assisted living facilities do not provide medical care, but they do provide a variety of services designed to ensure the safety and well-being of their residents. Staff members may provide assistance with some activities of daily living, remind residents to take their medications, arrange outings for residents or help residents receive the right nutrients. Many assisted living facilities also provide laundry, housekeeping and other services to make residents more comfortable and ensure they have access to everything they need.
What is the difference between assisted living and nursing homes?
Nursing homes provide ongoing medical care in a clinical environment. Residents may stay in private or semi-private rooms and have frequent contact with staff members. In contrast, assisted living facilities don’t provide ongoing medical care. The services they provide are designed to help seniors stay safe and healthy while also maintaining their independence. Staff members provide assistance with activities of daily living and medication management, but they don’t have as much contact with residents as the staff members of a nursing home. Assisted living facilities also tend to have more welcoming environments. Residents may be able to select their own furniture and decor to help them feel at home.