Known for its beautiful waterways, hot springs and naturalized areas, Arkansas is home to just over 3 million residents. The state’s population has grown by 3.3% over the past decade, and 17.4% of Arkansans are seniors aged 65 and older. Little Rock is the state capital and most populous city in Arkansas, and it serves as the regional health care hub. A number of top-ranked health care facilities are located here, including UAMS Health, a full-service teaching hospital. 

Arkansas ranked 46th on our 2022 Senior Living Report, despite the fact that the state’s average assisted living rate of $3,760 is well below the nationwide median of $4,500. This low ranking reflects that Arkansas has fewer primary care physicians per capita than the U.S. average, and crime rates in the state are relatively high. 

This guide offers an overview of assisted living costs in Arkansas, and compares those costs with other states and long-term care options. There’s also an overview of Medicaid-funded programs that seniors can access to help finance their long-term care expenses, a list of state regulations for assisted living facilities and links to free resources for Arkansas seniors. 

The Cost of Assisted Living in Arkansas

Genworth’s 2021 Cost of Care Survey shows that the average monthly cost of assisted living care in Arkansas is $3,760, which is $740 below the nationwide average of $4,500. Rates in neighboring Missouri are lower at $3,000 per month, while in Mississippi, assisted living residents pay an average of $3,500 per month. To the south of Arkansas in Louisiana, assisted living rates average $3,748 per month, and in Oklahoma, the same type of care costs around $3,855. 

$3760

Arkansas

$4500

The United States

$3000

Missouri

$3500

Mississippi

$3748

Louisiana

$3855

Oklahoma

Within Arkansas, average monthly assisted living rates range from a low of $3,329 in Pine Bluff to $4,500 in Hot Springs. Assisted living care in Jonesboro and Fayetteville costs about $3,650 per month, while rates in Fort Smith are slightly higher at $3,850. In the state capital, Little Rock, assisted living care costs an average of $4,488 per month. 

$3329

Pine Bluff

$3650

Jonesboro

$3650

Fayetteville

$3850

Fort Smith

$4488

Little Rock

$4500

Hot Springs

Arkansas seniors have access to a range of community-based and residential care services. Average monthly rates start at $1,733 for adult day health care, which includes supervised recreational programming and nonmedical assistance in a group setting. Assisted living costs about $3,760 per month and includes room and board in a licensed residential facility along with access to organized social activities and common amenities. Seniors who prefer to age in place in their own homes can expect to pay around $4,185 or $4,195 per month, respectively, for 44 hours of home care or home health care services. For those who need around-the-clock medical care, the average monthly rate for a semiprivate room in an Arkansas skilled nursing facility is $6,083, while a private room costs an average of $6,692.

$1733

Adult Day Health Care

$3760

Assisted Living

$4185

Home Care

$4195

Home Health Care

$6083

Nursing Home (semiprivate)

$6692

Nursing Home (private)

Does Medicaid Cover Assisted Living in Arkansas?

Arkansas’ Medicaid program directly covers personal care services delivered to residents living in an assisted living facility that’s registered as a Medicaid-authorized provider. Medicaid beneficiaries may also be eligible for services through the Living Choices program Medicaid waiver.

What Assisted Living Services Are Covered by Medicaid in Arkansas? 

Arkansas’ Medicaid program covers some personal care services for eligible beneficiaries who reside in a community-based, noninstitutional setting such as an assisted living facility. Services are assigned on an individual basis based on need, and may include: 

  • Nonmedical assistance with activities of daily living 
  • Intermittent skilled nursing care
  • Medication monitoring and assistance with self-administration 

Arkansas seniors who meet the admission criteria for placement in a skilled nursing facility, but who can be safely supported in an assisted living facility with enhanced services, may qualify for enrollment in the Living Choices program. 

Assisted Living Waiver Programs in Arkansas

Living Choices 

Living Choices is an assisted living Medicaid waiver program that’s designed to delay or prevent nursing home placement among frail seniors. Services funded through this program include: 

  • Assisted living services such as recreational programming
  • Nonmedical transportation 
  • Case management 
  • Intermittent and skilled nursing services 
  • Medication monitoring and administration 
  • Assistance with transfers, personal hygiene and other activities of daily living

To qualify for enrollment in the Living Choices Waiver, you must be at least 65 years old, or be assessed as permanently disabled in accordance with the criteria set by Medicaid. You must also meet the criteria for admission to a nursing home at the intermediate care level, need at least one of the services covered by the program and meet the financial criteria. 

To apply for the Living Choices Waiver, you must: 

  1. Apply and be approved for the Arkansas Medicaid Program
  2. Contact the nearest Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) county office to arrange for a needs-based assessment. Alternatively, you can call the Choices in Living Resource Center at (866) 801-3435 to set up an assessment. 
  3. If the DHS assessment confirms that you meet the functional criteria for enrollment in the program, DHS staff will determine what services you’re eligible to receive.   

How To Know If You’re Eligible for Medicaid in Arkansas 

Eligibility for Arkansas Medicaid is based on age, income, financial resources and need. Individuals who are approved for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits automatically qualify for Medicaid coverage. If you don’t receive SSI payments, you must meet the following criteria: 

  • Be at least 65 years old, or
  • Be blind or have a permanent disability that meets Medicaid guidelines, and, 
  • Meet the current income and asset limits

As of 2022, single applicants may have an annual pretax income of no more than $17,131 and $2,000 in countable assets. Married couples who are both applying can have a combined income of up to $23,169 per year and $3,000 in assets. If only one spouse applies, the assets limits are $2,000 for the applicant and up to $137,400 for the non-applicant.

2022 Medicaid Income Limits for Seniors in Arkansas

Annual Income Limits

Asset Limits

Single Applicant

$17,131

$2,000

Two-Person Household

(Only One Person Applying)

$23,169

$2,000 applicant

$137,400 non-applicant

Two-Person Household
(Both People Applying)

$23,169

$3,000

Arkansas Medicaid applicants must also:

  • Be permanent residents of Arkansas
  • Be either a U.S. citizen, national, permanent resident or legal alien

How To Apply for Medicaid in Arkansas

Your application for Medicaid can be submitted online through Access Arkansas.  Alternatively, you can call the Choices in Living Resource Center at (866) 801-3435 for assistance with completing and submitting your application. 

Information You Will Need 

When applying for Medicaid, you should be prepared to provide the following documentation:

  • Proof of age via government-issued ID, such as a driver’s license or passport
  • Proof of citizenship status and permanent residency in Arkansas
  • Verification of income from all sources, including wages, investment dividends, VA benefits and pension payments
  • Verification of all assets, including real estate, vehicles and investments 
  • Social Security number 
  • All insurance policies, including the cash value of any life insurance 
  • Any prepaid burial contracts or funeral services 

How To Get Help Applying for Medicaid 

If you need help applying for Medicaid, obtaining Medicaid-funded services or appealing a declined Medicaid application, you can contact the following programs and agencies for assistance. 

Resource 

Contact 

Description 

(888) 987-1200

Headquartered in Little Rock, AFMC is a nonprofit organization that works to improve services delivered through Medicaid while reducing overall health care costs. Individuals can call the AFMC Medicaid complaint hotline for assistance with Medicaid services and the application process. AFMC operators are fluent in English and Spanish. 

(800) 482-5850, ext 2-8622

Arkansas residents who disagree with a decision made by the Department of Human Services related to Medicaid eligibility and benefits can file an appeal through the DHS Office of Appeals and Hearings. Note that individuals must request an appeal hearing within 30 calendar days of the date listed on their Notice of Action letter from the DHS.

Online only

The Arkansas Department of Human Services maintains offices in each county throughout the state. Staff at these offices can provide information on Medicaid eligibility and the application process. County-specific contact information is available on the DHS website. 

Does Medicare Cover Assisted Living in Arkansas?

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

Other Financial Assistance Options for Assisted Living in Arkansas

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 Arkansas

There are a number of government agencies and nonprofit organizations that help Arkansas seniors who need long-term care services. The following resources may be of use to older adults, their caregivers and loved ones who need assistance with government benefit programs, legal information and community-based supports.

Resource 

Contact 

Service 

(501) 508-8858 

The Arkansas Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program helps ensure that assisted living residents understand their rights under federal laws and regulations. Ombudsmen investigate complaints about long-term care services filed by residents, caregivers and community members; advocate for improvements in long-term care services; and when necessary, escalate concerns to local law enforcement officials. 

(501) 683-2382

The Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs works to ensure that all veterans and their eligible dependents have access to county, state and federal benefits including health care, enhanced pension programs and burial honors. Veteran service officers can provide assistance to those applying for VA Aid and Attendance and Housebound, two VA pension programs that can be used to help cover assisted living expenses. 

Contact information on website 

Arkansas seniors aged 60 and older can access a number of programs and services through one of eight Area Agencies on Aging within the state. These nonprofit organizations work to plan and deliver local community-based initiatives, such as transportation programs for older adults, senior centers and home care services. 

(866) 801-3435

Operated by the Arkansas Department of Human Services and open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Choices In Living Resource Center provides callers with information on long-term care services. Operators can help callers learn about available care services, Medicaid programs, assistive technologies, prescription drug plans and help for family caregivers.

(800) 772-1213 

Arkansas seniors can visit their nearest Social Security office to request a Medicare or Social Security card. Office staff can also accept in-person applications for Social Security and Supplemental Security Income benefits. 

COVID-19 Rules for Assisted Living in Arkansas

The following information is based on research done on several government websites, including healthy.arkansas.gov. These rules apply to nursing homes and other types of senior living facilities. We’ve most recently updated this data on 3/22/2022, 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 Arkansas Communities

Are loved ones allowed to visit to provide emotional support?

Not Available*

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

Not Available*

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

Not Available*

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

Not Available*

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

Not Available*

Are visitors checked for elevated temperatures?

Yes

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

Yes

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

Outings & Social Activities

Rules for Arkansas Communities

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

Not Available*

Are residents who leave required to quarantine when they return?

Not Available*

Are senior living communities required to cancel all group outings?

No

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

Not Available*

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

Not Available*

*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 Arkansas Communities

Are staff members regularly required to do a temperature check?

Yes

Are staff members regularly tested for COVID-19?

Not Available*

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?

Not Available*

Are residents regularly checked for elevated temperatures?

Not Available*

Are residents regularly tested for COVID-19?

Not Available*

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

Assisted Living Laws and Regulations in Arkansas

Arkansas Level I and Level II assisted living facilities are regulated under state laws designed to ensure that all residents receive high-quality care in a safe environment. Regular and unannounced inspections are performed by staff from the Arkansas Department of Human Services, Office of Long-Term Care. Some key regulations are detailed in the following table. 

ARKANSAS LAWS AND REGULATIONS

Assisted Living Service Plan Requirements 

Upon admission, all ALF residents must undergo a comprehensive functional and needs assessment, which serves as the foundation for their assisted living service plan. This plan must be reviewed and updated on an annual basis. 

Assisted Living Admission Requirements 

Arkansas assisted living facilities may only admit and retain individuals who don't pose a danger to themselves or others. Facilities are prohibited from admitting residents who need around-the-clock medical care, rely on a feeding tube or can't evacuate the facility in an emergency without a high level of support from staff.

Assisted Living Scope of Care 

Level I assisted living facilities are geared toward residents who require limited assistance with activities of daily living. Level II ALFs offer enhanced direct care services including hands-on assistance with transfers, medication administration and two or more activities of daily living.

Assisted Living Medicaid Policy 

Arkansas' Medicaid plan covers personal care services delivered in participating ALFs. Some enhanced Medicaid services may also be provided to ALF residents who are enrolled in the Living Choices Waiver. Note that ALFs aren't required to accept Medicaid reimbursements to be licensed in Arkansas. 

Assisted Living Facility Requirements 

All Arkansas assisted living facilities must provide residents with private, independent apartments equipped with separate kitchenettes and sleeping areas, and an en suite bathroom. A maximum of two residents may share a suite, and all units need to be fully wheelchair-accessible. 

Medication Management Regulations 

Staff in Level I facilities can help residents self-administer oral medications that have been prescribed by a licensed physician. Licensed nursing staff in Level II facilities may administer prescription medications, and these facilities must retain a consulting pharmacist to review all resident medications on a regular basis. 

Staffing Requirements 

Assisted living facilities are required to have a full-time administrator who's on-site during regular business hours. Caregivers must also be on-site and awake at all times, while Level II facilities need at least one registered nurse on staff to oversee resident care. Level I facilities need to maintain a minimum staff-to-resident ratio of 1:16 during the day. Level II facilities must have at least one staff on duty for every 15 residents, and there can be no fewer than two staff members on duty at any given time. 

Staff Training Requirements 

All ALF staff need to complete basic orientation training within 1 week of commencing employment, and enhanced training that covers medication management, cognitive impairments and infection control within 30 days.

Background Checks for Assisted Living 

ALF administrators must perform a background check on all new hires. Any prospective employee who has been convicted of abuse or neglect of a vulnerable person shall be deemed ineligible for employment as a caregiver. Staff background checks must be updated every 5 years. 

Requirements for Reporting Abuse 

Caregivers must report any suspicions of abuse, neglect or mistreatment of ALF residents to the facility administrator, who must file a report with the Arkansas Office of Long-Term Care and the nearest law enforcement agency. Family members and other parties may file a complaint anonymously by calling the OLTC at (800) 582-4887.