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Just over 1.1 million residents of Iowa are age 50 or older. That equates to more than 36 percent of the state’s residents being considered seniors. What does that mean, how does the state compare, and what can we learn from health, demographic and economic data?
When it comes to the percentage of residents 50 and up, Iowa is pretty much representative of the U.S. as a whole, where 35.3 percent of residents are in that age bracket. And the state’s median age (38.1 years) is about the same as the overall U.S. median age, which is 38.5. Similarly, Iowa’s average life expectancy is similar to the life expectancy of the average American.
But Iowa is one of the few states where the median age fell over the past decade, so the state looks to be trending younger over the next several years. Between 2010 and 2018, the median age in Iowa fell by about 0.3 percent, while the median age in the U.S. rose by 2.7 percent. The state’s seniors also are among the least diverse, with just 4.4 percent of those 60 and older being people of color, and senior-led households have lower-than-average annual incomes here in Iowa.
*Includes Black, Native American, Alaska Native, Asian, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander or individuals of one or more other races, and Hispanic/Latinx people of any race.
Iowa's Senior Living Costs
With a housing index of 87,50, Iowa is one of the more affordable states to retire in the country. On average, one bedroom apartments go for only $563 a month, compared to $825 a month as the US average. Two bedroom apartments average out to $723 a month (US average being $1,027 a month).
Before moving here, you'll want to get a better idea of monthly costs of living for seniors in Iowa. On average, home health care costs are around $4,481 a month. This cost enables seniors to live comfortably in their own homes with service aids helping them with housekeeping duties and everyday errands.
Adult day care in Iowa is relatively affordable compared to other states in the country, with an average cost of $1,364 a month. This fee allows seniors to stay at a supervised facility during the day and be socialized while caregivers are busy running their own errands.
Assisted living facilities are available for seniors in Iowa who require more help with everyday tasks. For an average monthly cost of $3,736 a month, aging loved ones are able to get personal care and health services from professional staff.
Last but not least, nursing homes are available in Iowa for individuals requiring 24/7 supervision and care. The cost for a semi-private room is roughly $5,741 a month. If you prefer more privacy, you can get a private room for approximately $6,235 a month. All nursing homes provide residents with personal and skilled nursing care, medication, housing, supervision, and therapies and rehabilitation. While this form of living is more expensive than the others, it is still considered affordable compared to the rest of the United States.
Living Options for Senior Iowans
Senior Iowans have several choices when it comes to living facilities to spend their golden years in: independent living, assisted living, memory care, or nursing home care. Take a look at each option below and determine which one best suits your/your aging loved one's lifestyle.
Independent and healthy seniors in Iowa can choose to live in an independent living facility or a 55+/65+ senior apartment community. These living spaces allow the elderly to be amongst other citizens in the same age range. Iowa has over 200 independent living facilities to choose from. The average costs of independent living facilities range from $551 to $4,741 a month. There are many factors that contribute to this wide cost range, such as location. Facilities and communities in the metropolitan areas are generally going to be more costly than in the suburban areas, for example.
As people get older, they may need more attention and care than what a friend or family member can provide. Assisted living facilities provide seniors with attentive caregivers, healthcare, access to local activities, and other social opportunities — allowing them to live the final years of life to the fullest. Residents can expect to get assistance with housekeeping duties, laundry, personal transportation, meal services, and 24-hour staffing.
Assisted living facilities in Iowa costs anywhere from $930 to $8,620 a month. Similar to independent living facilities, there's a trend that the metropolitan areas are pricier, while the suburban areas are more affordable.
Memory loss is one of the scariest ailments a senior can encounter, and can be extremely debilitating and stressful for all involved. Memory care facilities are designed to reduce the amount of stress and debilitation associated with dementia and Alzheimer's. Constant monitoring, and safely designed rooms and corridors, reduce chances or injury or wandering off and getting lost somewhere with no memory of where they are. The average cost in Iowa is $59,473 per year, with over 324 memory care facilities to choose from. Some facilities in Iowa provide over double the amount of specialized training required of staff to care for residents with dementia related ailments.
Iowa has a surprisingly large amount of living options for seniors, coming in at over 850 senior living providers in the state. There is a large concentration of senior living options around the major cities, like Des Moines, Cedar Rapids and Davenport, but there are options spread out all over the state.
Adult daycare centers are known for providing everything a senior would need to live their life fully and safely. Group activities in the arts, physical exercise, healthy meals, and staff to be sure all medications are taken regularly. The adult daycare centers Iowa are generally much cheaper than other states, ranging in price from just $540 a month up to $4,500 a month. The yearly average is a low $14,300, compare that to the national average of $23,400 and it becomes clear that Iowa has some of the lowest costs in the nation.
With 121 hospices in Iowa, terminally ill seniors will have plenty of options to choose from. Medicare and Medicaid can often be used to cover the costs of hospices, as well as private insurance options. Hospices always have staff on hand to help fill out the paperwork to have insurance options cover the hospice care bills. Retirees at a hospice can expect excellent staff care, who are specially trained to help ease any pain and suffering associated with terminal illnesses.
When temporary help is need in the caring of a loved one in their senior years, most people will turn to respite care facilities. Respite care is a place where a senior can be fully cared for, while their caregiver has some time off to tend to the needs of their regular job, family, or just to unwind from the often time consuming care of an elderly loved one. There are 393 respite care facilities in Iowa, depending on the needs of the senior or for how long of a time period, costs can range from $5,220 a month up to $11,267 a month.
U.S. Census Bureau, ACS 1-Year Estimates Subject Tables (2010, 2017 and 2018)
Annual rental cost, Zillow Rent Index, States
Job openings, pulled from Indeed.com and SimplyHired.com in April 2020
Employment and wages, Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2019 publication
Household income and population figures, U.S. Census Bureau, most recent publications on all topics