Start planning the cost of senior living by reading this comprehensive guide on financing your loved one's home in memory care.

The Costs of Memory Care

Costs for memory care vary widely depending on where you live and the type of care your loved one needs. In states like Georgia, Missouri, and North Carolina, you may be able to find memory care within the $3,600-$4,000 range per month. On the other hand, memory care in states like Delaware, New Jersey, and Alaska may run around $7,000 per month.

The type of care you choose also makes a difference. Memory care communities that provide accommodation, round-the-clock nursing care, and all meals are likely to be more expensive than home care. The amount and type of assistance that your loved one requires may also make a difference in the total costs.

Fortunately, some resources are available to help with memory care, and you may be able to take some tax deductions or credits, depending on your location and your financial situation — your tax accountant can tell you more.

What Are the Options for Memory Care?

Most seniors with Alzheimer's disease or dementia require a significant amount of care, including through the nighttime. It's understandable that many people look for residential care that can provide care around the clock. Memory care communities that are dedicated to helping your loved one enjoy life to their greatest capacity abound throughout the United States.

However, they're not the only option available. If you're concerned about finances, you probably want to know what your available choices actually are.

Home Care for Alzheimer's and Dementia Residents

Home health care providers rarely charge extra to care for seniors with Alzheimer's or dementia. Their flat rate can range from $15 to $26 per hour in most places. Certainly, home care can be an option if your priority is keeping your loved one in their own home and sparing them the difficulties of transitioning to a new location. Our partner, Holiday Retirement has a very useful calculator to compare the costs of living at home.

However, because Alzheimer's residents often require round-the-clock care, you may need to calculate the cost of this option on a 24-hour basis. That means you might need multiple caregivers, rather than someone who comes in for just a few hours a day, as is common with much home health care.

Senior Living Communities

Many assisted living communities have special wings devoted to care of seniors with Alzheimer's disease or dementia. In fact, you can find this dedicated care in about 75 percent of the assisted living communities across the United States, so don't overlook them in your search. Typically the dedicated memory care wings in these communities feature special security of some sort to prevent their residents from wandering away.

In addition, you can find dedicated memory care communities that are devoted to providing dementia care. The staff in these communities are typically trained to handle the specific issues that arise with Alzheimer's and dementia residents.

Cost of assisted living and memory care varies greatly depending on where you live. It can range from about $3,500 a month on the low to about $7,000 a month in pricier areas.

Skilled Nursing Communities

When your loved one has medical needs that go beyond the specialized care required by Alzheimer's and dementia residents, they may need to transition to a skilled nursing community, previously known as a nursing home. Costs at a skilled nursing community run high, from about $4,500 a month to over $20,000 a month, depending on your location and especially on the medical services that your loved one requires. However, don't expect to pay an upcharge for services specific to Alzheimer's disease or dementia. Skilled nursing communities are typically prepared to provide these services as part of their standard of care.

Adult Day Care

Some people try to combine their own personal caregiving or help from a home health care aide with adult day care. While you should be able to find adult day care for under $2,000 a month in most regions of the country, many adult day care centers aren't equipped to deal with Alzheimer's or dementia residents once their conditions have progressed beyond the mildest stages.

Understanding What Your Loved One Needs Most

You know your loved one's needs better than anyone else, and that knowledge can help you choose the right kind of memory care. Ask yourself a few key questions to help determine your priorities in seeking memory care for your loved one:

  • What medical needs not related to Alzheimer's or dementia does your loved one have? What communities are best equipped to meet those needs?
  • How nearby do you want your loved one to be? Do you want to visit them monthly? Weekly? Daily?
  • How communicative is your loved one? Will they benefit from being in a community that provides a social interaction and activities?
  • What can you honestly afford?

What Can You Afford?

One of the questions you need to consider is what you can afford — but how do you know the answer to that?

You may find yourself dealing with a bit of sticker shock as you look at the costs of the memory care communities you're considering. However, make sure you're taking into consideration everything that's covered in that monthly rate. You're not just paying for living space — that fee also covers meals, transportation, medical care, utilities, housekeeping care, and all sorts of other incidental costs.

Start by sitting down and calculating what your loved one's fixed and variable cost of living is in their current situation. Go over their bills and accounts to determine where the money's currently going. Add up all their current expenses and balance it against their income in retirement, which may include pensions, interest or annuity income, Social Security, long-term care insurance policies, and investment income.

Once you crunch the numbers, you may find that a memory care community is well within reach. This exercise also gives you the information you need to determine how much you might be able to contribute to your loved one's care. Check out this cost of care calculator to help you work your way through the calculations.

Resources to Help Pay for Memory Care

If your loved one has taken out long-term care insurance, that's the first place to look for help with the costs of memory care. Long-term care policies differ greatly, and most have caps on amount spent or length of time care can be provided, so make sure to read the fine print.

Other resources are available to help you with at least some of the costs of memory care.

Medicare

Medicare treats Alzheimer's disease and dementia just like other diseases, and its limitations on payment are determined in the same way. Medicare will pay for 100 percent of skilled nursing communities costs for 20 days if medically necessary, covering 80 percent of costs for the next 80 days. Medigap insurance typically pays the remaining 20 percent. Care in a psychiatric hospital is covered for up to 190 days total.

While Medicare will not pay for care within an assisted living community, it will pay for certain types of medical care provided in that type of community.

Medicaid

Because Medicaid programs are administered by the states, the benefits available for Alzheimer's and dementia care vary on a state-by-state basis. In some cases, Medicaid waivers, which are available to low income residents only, may pay for care at home or in senior living communities. Qualification for these waivers is based on your loved one's inability to care for themselves at home, as well as on their income level. Most mid- to late-stage dementia residents are able to qualify.

State Assistance Programs for Alzheimer's Residents

Low-income Alzheimer's or dementia residents in some states can qualify for programs that pay for daily assistance. In addition, a few states feature programs to help people with Alzheimer's and dementia, regardless of their financial assets and income. If you live in Alaska, California, Delaware, Florida, Kentucky, North Carolina, Oregon, Vermont, West Virginia or Wisconsin, check to see what programs might be available.

Veterans Program

The Veterans Administration also has programs to help veterans of war with some assisted living costs. In addition, you should talk to the staff at the memory care communities you're considering to see what suggestions they have to make the cost of memory care more affordable for you and your loved one.

Review our other articles on Memory Care:

For more resources on memory care and senior living, click here.

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