3 Assisted Living Communities in Montana
Brookdale Missoula Valley
Assisted Living in Montana
Montana is the nation's fourth-largest state, but it almost wasn't a state at all. Late in the 19th century, there was a debate in Congress over whether to just leave it a part of Idaho, as it was during its territory days. Today, Montana is the eight-least densely populated state, with only slightly over 1 million people living in nearly 150,000 square miles of high plains and the jagged mountains that gave the state its name. Roughly 180,000 of Montana's residents are over 65, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Montana's state bird is the western meadowlark, and its flower is the bitterroot blossom. The state is formally known as "the Treasure State," but it's less formally known as "Big Sky Country" for the vast open skies over the still largely undeveloped tracts of land that characterize Montana's landscape.
What Is Assisted Living?
Assisted living is a form of long-term residential care that helps seniors live independently and with as much privacy as their health allows. Seniors in assisted living get room and board, as well as help with their activities of daily living (ADLs), such as dressing, meal prep and taking pre-measured doses of some medications.
What Does Assisted Living Cost in Montana?
In Montana, the average monthly cost of assisted living is $3,650, according to the 2018 Genworth Cost of Care Survey.
Assisted living in Montana costs a monthly median of $3,650. That's somewhat less than the national median of $3,750 a month, and it's significantly less than the cost of a home health aide in Montana, which averages $4,648 a month. Costs vary across the state. In the relatively built-up area of Billings, the median cost of assisted living is $3,800 a month, while costs in Missoula run as high as $4,945.
How Is Assisted Living Regulated in Montana?
Montana regulates its assisted living communities through the state Department of Public Health and Human Services Quality Assurance Division. This division inspects facilities and issues licenses to operate. The division also publishes and enforces guidelines for standards of care and services available to senior residents. Aging citizens, their families and friends, and members of the public are free to contact the division with comments and concerns about senior care at assisted living properties around the state.
How Is Assisted Living in Montana Affected by Laws and Taxes?
Montana can be friendly for seniors who depend on certain types of income, though above a certain level, taxes can get high, relative to other states. Unlike most other states, Montana taxes some Social Security income, though there's an exemption for seniors whose annual income is less than $25,000 a year for singles or $32,000 for married couples. Both public and private pensions are treated like income from wages for state tax purposes. Other types of senior income, such as 401(k) and IRA returns, are fully taxable. On the positive side for seniors who shop for themselves, Montana has no sales tax.
Politics in Montana
The state of Montana has an elaborate mechanism for running its own internal politics. The official machinery includes a statewide ethics office and a state office for a Commissioner of Political Practices, who regulates campaign finance issues, disclosure matters, lobbying rules and education resources for citizens. Aging citizens in Montana can register and vote by mail, and the state makes absentee voting easy by allowing voters to deliver ballots to any polling station, provided the ballot is the same one that came in the mail and it's sealed in the envelope. Even late registration is allowed under some circumstances, though Montana requires a valid picture ID for in-person registration and voting.
In national politics, Montana has leaned red for a long time. The state doesn't have a lot of pull in presidential politics, sending only three electors in each contest, but it has been a reliable Republican stronghold since the 1950s. Within the state's borders, however, Montana strikes a very bipartisan balance. The state legislature frequently changes hands between the two major parties, and there is no clear preference among voters over which party to elect to statewide offices and in local races.
- Montana got its start during one of the late 19th-century gold rushes that defined so many Western states. At around the same time, in the 1880s, wealthy cattle barons were defining the lifestyle of the cowboy by breeding up huge herds of cattle and driving them to market. For a time, around 1889, the Montana city of Helena had the highest concentration of millionaires in the entire world. Today, seniors looking for a little old-fashioned adventure can still pan for gold in many of the state's slow-moving creeks.
- A single protected site in Montana, Glacier National Park, has well over 250 scenic and wild lakes within its boundaries. Hundreds of thousands of tourists a year visit this park, which is unique in having headwaters that flow in three directions: toward the Atlantic, the Great Basin and Hudson Bay. Glacier National Park offers solitary adventure, such as camping and hiking, as well as more senior-friendly group events, ranger-led tours and educational seminars about the park's natural history and the culture of local Native American tribes.
- In Montana, the deer, elk and antelope populations all outnumber the humans in the state. Hunting of these animals is allowed, but it's closely regulated by the state Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department. For seniors who enjoy hunting, there may not be a better place to live, and aging citizens with disabilities can get special licenses either for free — such as permits to modify archery equipment or to hunt from a vehicle — or regular conservation licenses at half cost with a permanent disability license. These permits are issued at the state level, though specific area hunting seasons vary by season and by animal populations, so it's best to check ahead.