Known for its Southern charm, vibrant music scene and distinctive culture, Mississippi ranks No. 19 out of 50 states on our 2022 Senior Living Report. The Magnolia State earned high marks for its low median assisted living rate of just $3,500 per month, which is $1,000 below the nationwide median. Mississippi also has a relatively low crime rate, and residents rarely need to contend with traffic jams or freezing cold temperatures. 

Seniors aged 65 and older make up 16.4% of Mississippi’s population, which sits just shy of 3 million. The state is home to a number of top-ranked health care facilities including the Mississippi Baptist Medical Center in Jackson and the 545-bed Forrest General Hospital in Hattiesburg

In this guide, you’ll find an overview of assisted living costs in Mississippi and neighboring states, as well as information on financial aid programs for seniors who need long-term care. There are also links to a number of free and low-cost resources for older adults and a summary of the regulations for licensed assisted living communities in Mississippi. 

The Cost of Assisted Living in Mississippi

The Genworth 2021 Cost of Care Survey shows that in Mississippi, the average rate for assisted living care is $3,500 per month, $1,000 below the nationwide average of $4,500, making this one of the most affordable states in which to seek assisted living care. Median assisted living rates are nearly identical in neighboring Alabama at $3,503, and in Louisiana, rates run around $3,748 per month. Arkansas assisted living residents pay about $3,760 per month, and in Tennessee, the same type of care costs around $4,105 per month.

$3500

Mississippi

$4500

The United States

$3503

Alabama

$3748

Louisiana

$3760

Arkansas

$4105

Tennessee

Within Mississippi, assisted living rates vary depending on the local cost of living and the amenities, services and accommodations offered at each individual facility. Median rates in Gulfport run around $3,800 per month, and in Hattiesburg, assisted living care costs an average of $4,124 per month. Jackson has the highest average assisted living rates in the state at $4,350 per month. 

$3800

Gulfport

$4124

Hattiesburg

$4350

Jackson

In Mississippi, seniors have access to a number of community-based and residential long-term care services. Rates start at $1,408 per month for adult day health care, a type of care that includes group recreational programming and some limited personal care services. At $3,500 per month, assisted living care is more affordable than either home care or home health care, which costs an average of $3,813 based on 44 hours of care per week. Seniors who have complex medical needs can expect to pay around $7,118 per month for a semiprivate room in a nursing home. 

$3500

Assisted Living

$3813

Home Care

$3813

Home Health Care

$1408

Adult Day Health Care

$7118

Nursing Home Care (semiprivate)

Does Medicaid Cover Assisted Living in Mississippi?

While Mississippi’s Medicaid program does not cover room and board costs for beneficiaries who need assisted living care, many enhanced services available in assisted living facilities are included in the Assisted Living Waiver.

What Assisted Living Services Are Covered by Medicaid in Mississippi? 

Under the Assisted Living Home and Community-Based Waiver, eligible seniors may receive help with activities of daily living such as bathing, transferring and grooming. The waiver also covers a number of additional supports ranging from therapeutic social programming to medication administration and transportation. 

Assisted Living Waiver Programs in Mississippi 

Assisted Living Waiver

Mississippi’s Assisted Living Waiver is designed to delay or prevent institutionalization of individuals who meet the criteria for placement in a skilled nursing facility. AL Waiver beneficiaries reside in a Medicaid-approved licensed personal care home assisted living facility where they receive the AL Waiver services, which may include: 

  • Professional case management
  • Enhanced personal care
  • Homemaker services, including laundry and housekeeping
  • Non-medical attendant care
  • Medication monitoring and administration
  • An attendant call system
  • Transportation to local non-emergency medical appointments
  • Therapeutic recreational programming
  • Intermittent skilled nursing services

To qualify for enrolment in the Assisted Living Waiver, applicants must: 

  • Be Medicaid-eligible either as a Supplemental Security Income recipient or be a low-income applicant who has an annual income at or below 300% of the SSI federal benefit rate
  • Be age 21 or older
  • Be deemed clinically eligible following completion of an assessment using the Long-Term Services and Supports tool

Once approved, Waiver participants need to have their functional eligibility verified by a physician every 12 months. 

To apply for the Assisted Living Waiver, seniors can contact the Mississippi Access to Care Center (MAC Center) by calling (844) 822-4622. Alternatively, prospective applicants can also call the Office of Long Term Care, Mississippi Division of Medicaid at (800) 421-2408. 

How to Know If You’re Eligible for Medicaid in Mississippi

In Mississippi, anyone who qualifies for Supplemental Security Income is automatically approved for Medicaid. Alternatively, non-SSI applicants can qualify for Medicaid if they meet current income and asset limits, as well as residency and citizenship requirements. 

In general, applicants must:

  • Be age 65 or older, be legally blind or have a permanent disability
  • Meet current Medicaid income and asset limits 

As of 2022, single applicants may have an annual pre-tax income of no more than $17,131. 

2022 Medicaid Income Limits for Seniors in Mississippi

Income Limits* 

Asset Limits

Single Applicant

$17,131

$2,000

Two-Person Household

(Only One Person Applying)

$23,169

$2,000 for applicant

$137,400 for non-applicant

Two-Person Household
(Both People Applying)

$23,169

$3,000

How to Apply for Medicaid in Mississippi

Seniors can submit their Medicaid application online through Mississippi’s secure web portal, Access.ms.gov. Alternatively, applicants can also download, print and mail or fax in their application; apply in person at one of the 30 regional Medicaid offices or complete a phone application by calling the Office of Eligibility at (800) 421-2408. 

Information You Will Need 

When applying for Medicaid, you’ll be asked to verify your age, residency, citizenship and financial information by providing:

  • Government-issued ID that displays your date of birth and place of residence
  • Proof that you are either a U.S. national, citizen, legal alien or permanent resident
  • Current financial statements including all bank accounts, investments, real estate and securities
  • Your Social Security number
  • Any insurance policies in your name
  • Proof of income from all sources, including government benefits, company pensions and rental income

How to Get Help Applying for Medicaid 

There are a number of organizations and programs that offer assistance to seniors who are applying for Medicaid.    

Resource 

Contact 

Description 

 (844) 822-4622

Operated by the Mississippi Department of Human Services, Mississippi Access to Care Centers, or MAC Centers, offer free, unbiased information to seniors who need help applying for public benefits such as Medicaid. Staff at MAC Centers can also provide seniors with up-to-date information on long-term care eligibility, as well as various programs and services for older adults. 

(800) 421-2408

(601) 359-6050

Seniors who prefer to apply for Medicaid in person can contact the nearest Medicaid regional office. Office locations are available on the Mississippi Division of Medicaid website. 

(800) 421-2408

Medicaid applicants and beneficiaries can appeal any action taken by the Division of Medicaid within 30 days by requesting a Medicaid eligibility hearing. In general, hearings are conducted over the phone, but the hearing officer has the discretion to schedule an in-person hearing. 

Does Medicare Cover Assisted Living in Mississippi?

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

Other Financial Assistance Options for Assisted Living in Mississippi

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 Mississippi

There are a number of government and nonprofit agencies in Mississippi that offer free and low-cost services for seniors. The following resources may be useful for older adults who require long-term care services, as well as family members who are looking for assisted living care for their loved ones. 

Resource 

Contact 

Service 

(601) 359-4500

The Mississippi Department of Human Services' Division of Aging and Adult Services delivers a wide range of free and low-cost services to seniors aged 60 and older. These services include legal advocacy and assistance programs for elders, senior companion programs, family caregiver support services and transportation programs. 

(601) 359-4500

The State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program is a federally authorized program designed to protect the rights of long-term care residents, including those who reside in assisted living facilities. Ombudsmen investigate concerns and complaints about long-term care services, help residents and family members understand their rights, and report serious concerns to law enforcement officials. 

(877) 203-5632

Mississippi Veterans Affairs is the state agency responsible for ensuring that all eligible veterans and their dependents receive their maximum allowable entitlements through county, state and federal benefit programs. Veteran service officers can help vets and their families apply for cash benefits that can be used toward assisted living costs, including Aid and Attendance and Housebound, which are two enhanced VA pension programs. 

(800) 772-1213 

There are a number of Social Security Field Offices located throughout Mississippi that offer in-person assistance with Medicare, Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income applications. Seniors can also contact their nearest office to obtain their Social Security card. 

COVID-19 Rules for Assisted Living in Mississippi

The following information is based on research done on several government websites, including msdh.ms.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 4/23/22, 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 Mississippi 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

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 Mississippi 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)

COVID-19 Safety Measures for Staff and Residents

Rules for Mississippi 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?

Yes

Are residents regularly tested for COVID-19?

Yes (Conditions Apply)

Assisted Living Laws and Regulations in Mississippi

Mississippi assisted living facilities are governed by state laws and regulations. These regulations are enforced by inspectors from the Mississippi State Department of Health’s Division of Health Facilities Licensure and Certification

MISSISSIPPI LAWS AND REGULATIONS

Assisted Living Service Plan Requirements 

Prospective residents must be thoroughly examined by a licensed medical doctor, physician assistant or nurse practitioner within the 30-day period preceding admission to an assisted living facility to verify their eligibility for admission.  

Assisted Living Admission Requirements 

Assisted living facilities are only able to admit and retain residents whose needs can be safely met within the facility. Residents who rely on a wheelchair may be admitted as long as they can perform transfers independently and propel their wheelchair without assistance.

Facilities are prohibited from admitting or retaining individuals who require physical restraints; have behavioral issues or communicable diseases that pose a threat to others; or who require certain medical treatments such as gastric feeding or intravenous fluids.  

Assisted Living Scope of Care 

Assisted living facilities provide supervision and nonmedical care on a 24/7 basis to residents who require assistance with activities of daily living. Facilities must also provide laundry services, regular age-appropriate social activities and at least three meals each day. 

Assisted Living Medicaid Policy 

Assisted living facilities in Mississippi cannot accept Medicaid for the room and board portion of a residents' monthly fees, but participating facilities can participate in the Assisted Living Waiver. 

Assisted Living Facility Requirements 

In Mississippi, up to four residents can be housed in each assisted living room. At least one gender-specific toilet, sink and bathtub or shower must be provided on each floor of the facility. 

Medication Management Regulations 

Assisted living residents can self-administer medications with or without assistance from a caregiver. Residents who are unable to self-administer their medication can only be assisted by a licensed nurse, and facilities are not allowed to administer any IM, IV or subcutaneous medications with the exception of B-12 and insulin. 

Staffing Requirements 

A full-time operator or a designated employee must be on-site at all times. Facilities must schedule a licensed nurse to administer medications for a minimum of 8 hours per day, and facilities must maintain a staff-to-resident ratio of 1:15 or better between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. daily. 

Staff Training Requirements 

Facility operators must complete at least 2 concurrent days of training with the licensing agency prior to commencing duties at the facility. Direct care staff must complete ongoing training related to their duties at least once every 90 days. 

Dementia care staff must be thoroughly orientated on dementia care standards, including management of common behavior issues such as wandering and sundowning. 

Background Checks for Assisted Living 

All facility operators and direct care staff must pass a pre-employment criminal background check and attest that they are not registered on Mississippi's Nurses’ Aide Abuse Registry.

Requirements for Reporting Abuse 

Staff in all long-term care facilities are mandated reporters. This means that they are legally obligated to report any observed or suspected cases of elder abuse, neglect or exploitation to Adult Protective Services.