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More than 3.7 million people 50 and older live in the state of North Carolina, the ninth-highest number among all states and the District of Columbia. While this is a number roughly equivalent to the entire population of Los Angeles, how well-represented are seniors in North Carolina generally, and what does statistical analysis tell us about their quality of life?
The median age in North Carolina is 38.9, only slightly higher than the overall national median (38.5), and about 35.8 percent of the population in the state is age 50 or older, which is almost identical to the overall national rate.
While the state is fairly representative of the nation as a whole when it comes to age, North Carolina has been aging much more rapidly than the overall U.S. In fact, the median age in North Carolina has risen 4.3 percent since 2010, the 12th-largest increase and much higher than the overall national jump of 2.7 percent.
*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.
North Carolina's Senior Living Costs
North Carolina has a housing index of 94.70, making it one of the more affordable states to retire in the United States. It is lower than the national average of 100. One bedroom apartments average out to $656 a month (compared to the US average of $825 a month), while two bedrooms go for an average of $793 a month (compared to the US average of $1027 a month).
Curious about what the numbers look like when it comes to monthly costs of living for seniors in North Carolina? Firstly, the average home health care costs are approximately $3,432 a month. Home health care services enable elders to live comfortably in their own homes while receiving help to keep the house clean and complete everyday errands.
Adult day care facilities are available throughout North Carolina for around $1,148 a month. These facilities are for seniors needing to stay at a supervised place during the day and take part in social activities while their caregivers are busy tending to their other obligations.
Seniors requiring more help with completing their everyday tasks and obligations may consider staying at an assisted living facility in North Carolina. Here, they would receive personal care and health services for an average of $3,250 a month.
Last, but not least, North Carolina also has nursing homes to accommodate those who need round the clock supervision and care. The cost for a semi-private room is roughly $6,844 a month, while a private room is about $7,604 a month. Senior residents can expect to receive personal care, medication, housing, supervision, skilled nursing care, and therapies and rehabilitation while staying at a nursing home.
Living Options for North Carolina's Seniors
When compared to all fifty states, North Carolina is ranked 24th in Long-Term Care and 32nd in the country’s health rankings. Twenty-eight percent of the state’s seniors live alone. This makes the need for quality housing options for these and all seniors very important and, fortunately, North Carolina offers a plethora of senior living options. Depending on individual needs and circumstances, they can choose between independent living, assisted living, memory care, or nursing home care. Explore each option below and see which one is best for you and your lifestyle.
There are more than 330 independent living facilities scattered throughout North Carolina. Independent living is best for elderly people who are healthy and active, and don't require 24/7 nursing care. The average cost of staying at an independent living facility in this state ranges anywhere from $605 to $4,342 a month.
Seniors who prefer apartment style living can pick an apartment community for seniors 55+ or 65+. These communities often include useful amenities like small gyms, walking trails, pools and jacuzzis, meeting rooms, and more for residents to enjoy.
Retirement Communities in North Carolina
There are lots of reasons to consider the Southern charm of retirement living in North Carolina. In fact, the Tar Heel State has become one of the primary retirement destinations of choice in the US. Many people from the Northeast who have become disillusioned with retirement living in Florida, find themselves venturing back north, retiring in North Carolina and referring to themselves as “half-backs” because they made it halfway back up to the northeast.
Let’s look at some information and key statistics about seniors in North Carolina so you’ll have a better idea of living conditions in the state should you decide to join those who have already determined to live out their retirement in North Carolina.
According to 2010 data from the United States census bureau, 13% of North Carolina’s population is comprised of seniors. This means that seniors retiring to the Tar Heel State will find that they’re not alone – they’ll find lots of other people their age and the state already has an infrastructure set up and prepared to deal with the needs and desires of seniors.
As we discussed earlier, North Carolina’s housing index falls below the national average. This is good news for many since 8% of senior households in North Carolina have an annual income less than $10K and 28% survive on less than $20K; however, the median household income for a North Carolina senior is slightly more than $2.8K per month with the average Social Security Income being slightly more than $1.4K per month. Twenty-five percent of the state’s residents who are 60 and above receive assistance through the food stamp program.
North Carolina provides employment opportunities for seniors as well. Almost 200K of the state’s seniors continue to work as they follow their retirement dreams.
North Carolina is home to more than 650 assisted living facilities which provide seniors with attentive caregivers, healthcare, and access to local activities and social opportunities. At an assisted living facility, residents can expect to get assistance with housekeeping duties, laundry, transportation, meal services, and 24-hour safety surveillance.
The average cost to stay at an assisted living facility in the state ranges from $1,100 to $7,895 a month depending on a variety of factors like location. If you are looking to save some money, then it may be worthwhile to look around the Burlington area where assisted living costs are lower. In the Wilmington metropolitan area, the assisted living costs get steeper.
Seniors developing dementia would do best in a memory care facility. Memory care facilities provide specialized care for seniors facing memory deterioration, with staff who will assist with personal grooming and helping seniors find their way back to their room if they forget. The average cost of a memory care facility in North Carolina is $51,156 per year, with the cheapest facilities around the Burlington area costing $46,530 a year. Wilmington area has the highest memory care costs, coming in at $83,903 a year.
North Carolina has over 1,300 senior living providers, giving retirees more than enough options for all types of care and living arrangements.
There are 16 adult daycare facilities in North Carolina, at an average cost of $13,260 a year. Jacksonville and its surrounding communities have the lowest cost adult daycares in the state, at an average of $9,100 per year. Goldsboro metropolitan areas have the highest cost adult daycare centers, with an average annual cost of $32,500. Statewide, costs can range from an absolute low of $630 to a maximum of $3,000 a month.
Hospices can be found all throughout the state, to help comfort terminally ill seniors and help them live their final days as best they can. There are 149 hospices in North Carolina, and their staffs will help seniors find out how to utilize their Medicaid, Medicare, or private insurance to cover most, or all, of the costs. Terminally ill patients at a hospice will have their pain managed through a combination of traditional medications administered by a skilled nurse, and holistic therapies like aromatherapy, senior friendly yoga, meditation, and more.
Respite care provides relief to a primary caregiver, unpaid or paid, by taking over the caregiver duties for a temporary amount of time. Respite care can be as short as a day or as long as months or even open ended. Respite care in North Carolina is $73,913 a year on average, with the overall costs ranging from $5,655 a month or tp $12,311 per 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