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How do West Virginia’s seniors compare to their counterparts across the country when it comes to economic, health and demographic data? While it’s a mixed bag, one thing can’t be denied — West Virginia is one of the oldest states when considering demographic data.
The median age in West Virginia is 42.8 years, which is the fourth-highest in the country. That compares to an overall U.S. median age of 38.5, and more than one in five residents of the state are 50 or older vs. just 35.3 percent nationally.
But while seniors account for a higher-than-average ratio of West Virginia’s residents, some aspects of their lives aren’t exactly leading the nation. For example, West Virginia’s average life expectancy stands at 75.3 years, second-lowest in the nation, and households led by those 65 and older have a median income of $33,901, which is last in the U.S.
*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.
West Virginia's Living Costs for Seniors
West Virginia is one of the more affordable states to retire in the country, with a housing index of only 82.80. On average, one bedroom apartments in this state go for $552 a month, while the national average for a similar housing unit comes out to $825 a month. Need more space? A two bedroom apartment in West Virginia goes for an average of $678 a month, compared to the U.S. average of $1027 a month.
If you're convinced you want to retire in West Virginia, you'll want to familiarize yourself with the average monthly costs of living for seniors here. To start, seniors who have the ability to live relatively independently and comfortably in their own homes can get home health care services for $3,241 a month. This fee allows the elderly to have access to service aides who come to the house to help clean, cook meals, and assist with errands.
Adult day care in West Virginia averages out to $1,343 a month. This fee allows seniors to stay at a supervised facility during the day and take part in social activities to stay busy. Therapy and some health services are also available to day care members. Since adult day care does not include skilled nursing care, it is ideal for those who are mostly independent and in decent health.
West Virginia also has assisted living facilities available statewide for older people requiring more help with executing everyday tasks. Personal care and health services are also available for a monthly assisted living facility cost of $3,750 a month.
Seniors requiring round the clock care and supervision are best off at a nursing home in West Virginia. Here, the elderly can live comfortably knowing that experienced staff members will provide them with the extensive care they need, along with medication, therapy, rehabilitation, and proper housing. Semi-private rooms go for an average of $9,703 a month here, while a private room averages out to $10,235 a month in West Virginia.
Living Options for Senior West Virginians
When it comes to retired living, seniors have several options in West Virginia depending on individual needs and circumstances. These options include independent living, assisted living, memory care, and nursing home care. Learn more about each option below and determine which one would be best for your needs and lifestyle.
There are more than 40 independent living facilities in West Virginia. It costs anywhere from $800 to $3,366 a month to live in one, largely depending on location. For example, it's most affordable to live in the Beckley area, and most expensive to live in the Morgantown metropolitan area. Seniors who are healthy, active, and don't require round the clock care will be most ideal for independent living. Those who prefer to live in a senior apartment can find a 55+ or 65+ community, where they'd be able to live amongst people of similar ages and enjoy amenities such as pools and jacuzzis, small gyms, walking trails, dog parks, and more.
West Virginia is home to more than 90 assisted living facilities statewide. Seniors who need assistance with housekeeping duties, access to health care, meal services, help with transportation and laundry, and access to social opportunities will benefit from staying at an assisted living facility. For anywhere from $1,600 to $6,120 a month, the elderly can rely on attentive caregivers to help them live comfortably. Compared to the national average, assisted living costs are low in The Mountain State.
Memory care has been of increasing importance lately, due to a growing amount of seniors developing dementia. Memory care is designed to reduce the stresses of memory loss related ailments, such as Alzheimer's. Staff are specially trained to help seniors who are having a mental breakdown due to not remembering where they are or how to do something they used to do all the time. There are over 90 memory care facilities in West Virginia, costing an average of $60,291 a year. Beckley has the lowest average costs for memory care, at $54,203 a year, while Morgantown has the highest care costs at $79,200 a year.
Every state is facing an increased senior population due to the baby boomers entering their golden years. West Virginia will among the states hit the hardest, with a current senior population making up 16% of the state's overall population, and expected to grow to nearly 25% by 2035. To make matters more difficult, West Virginians of working age will decrease by 9% by then, translating to lower funds available for senior care.
Adult daycare has been a staple senior living provider across the nation, and West Virginia is no exception. There are around 10 adult daycare centers in the state, averaging $13,000 a year in costs, especially around the town of Beckley. There are parts of West Virginia that are significantly more expensive, such as Weirton and Steubenville where the average adult daycare costs are $32,000 annually.
Hospice care in West Virginia helps terminally ill patients to live out their remaining days with dignity. Hospices provide professionally administered medications to help reduce the pain and suffering that often accompanies a terminal illness. Staff will also tend to provide holistic approaches to help terminally ill patients with their emotional and mental turmoil as well. There are over 20 hospices in West Virginia, with costs that can be covered by Medicaid, Medicare, and most private insurances.
Seniors who are cared for by a family member, will often make use of respite care. Respite care provides a professional caregiver to relieve the family member from caregiving duties for a temporary amount of time, so that the family member can take care of their other responsibilities or just have a break to recharge. Respite care can be set up for any amount of time and frequency, from months at a time in a dedicated care facility, or just a few hours each week with in-home care. Costs can vary widely, but the average cost of respite care in West Virginia is $92,528 per year. The monthly costs range from $6,960 a month up to $14,790 a month between the 100+ respite care facilities available in the state.
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