In the world of senior living, understanding cost structure is vital. And nowhere is that more important than when evaluating memory care. Seniorly outlines key services and how much memory care costs per month to help you make confident decisions.
Caring for a loved one with memory loss is a journey that requires patience, dedication, and open-heartedness. As you prioritize their well-being and strive to find high-quality care, understanding the cost of memory care becomes an essential part of the equation.
While cost consideration may initially be overwhelming, it's crucial to approach this topic with clarity around the factors involved. In this article, we aim to shed light on the complex world of memory care costs.
Keep reading to embark on this journey armed with knowledge and a compassionate approach.
Memory care costs vary widely depending on where you live and the type of care your loved one needs. Seniorly data shows that the average national cost of memory care in 2023 was $5,096. In states like Georgia, Louisiana, and South Dakota, you may be able to find memory care within the $3,700-$4,000 range per month. On the other hand, memory care in states with a high cost of living like Washington, D.C., Massachusetts, and Alaska may run between $6,00 to $8,000 per month.
The type of care you choose also makes a difference. Memory care communities that provide accommodation, round-the-clock skilled nursing care, and all meals are likely to be more expensive than home care. The level of care needed will often depend on their stage of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. The amount and type of assistance that your loved one requires will also impact the the total costs. On the other hand, in the advanced stages of dementia, individuals may qualify for onsite hospice, which can mitigate the cost of care.
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. Be sure to touch base with your tax accountant, as they can tell you more.
Most seniors with Alzheimer's disease or dementia require a significant amount of care, including during nighttime hours. It's understandable that many people look for residential care that can provide care around the clock.
Memory care communities 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 the cost of memory care services in communities, you're probably wondering what your other financial options are.
Specialized memory care facilities provide an ideal environment for individuals with dementia and Alzheimer's, offering specialized care tailored to their unique needs. These communities are designed to ensure a high level of safety, security, and comfort to support the cognitive and emotional well-being of residents.
It is often assumed that staff at memory care communities have extensively trained staff who understand the intricacies of dementia and Alzheimer's. While this may be true for some roles, you should never assume and investigate this by directly asking about staff background, credentials, and ongoing training. Many caregivers at these facilities don’t have any formal training, as there is a general shortage of caregivers nationwide.
Activity calendars often offer mental stimulation, social engagement and structured daily routines, while the specialized amenities and secure layouts of memory care communities ensure a balance between independence and safety. Memory care costs at these communities tend to be higher than other solutions because of higher staff demands, more oversight needed, and purpose-built design. If your loved one is in the advanced stages of dementia, they may have difficulty engaging in any of these activities, and therefore won’t benefit from this added amenity.
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 with the difficulties of transitioning to a new location.
However, because Alzheimer's residents often require round-the-clock care, you may need to calculate the monthly cost of this option on a 24-hour basis, leading to a much higher memory care cost. That means you might need a live-in caregiver or multiple caregivers, rather than someone who comes in for just a few hours a day, as is common with much home health care.
You may want to explore the option of free respite care for family caregivers provided by the Older American Act, which is managed by local Area Agencies on Aging. Eligibility for respite care is typically based on the family caregivers’ level of burden and offered on a first-come, first-serve basis or at the local agency’s discretion. It is not based on income. The hours are limited per month, but nevertheless can provided caregivers with a much needed break.
You may have found that assisted living facilities near you have special wings devoted to the care of seniors with Alzheimer's disease or dementia. In fact, you can find these dedicated memory care units in about 75 percent of assisted living communities across the United States, so be sure not to 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. Private rooms will be more costly, yet shared rooms can be complicated with dementia patients. Persons with Alzheimer’s or dementia often mistake their roommates’ belongings for their own, including their bed, which can lead to altercations.
Remember, the costs of assisted living facilities and memory care facilities varies greatly depending on where you live. Seniorly data shows the state cost of assisted living in 2023 ranges from about $3,300 a month on the low side, to about $6,800 a month in pricier areas.
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, sometimes known as a nursing home.
Costs at a nursing home tend to run high, from about $4,500 a month to over $20,000 a month, depending on your location and the specific medical services that your loved one requires.
However, with a nursing home pricing model, don't expect to pay an upcharge for services specific to Alzheimer's disease or dementia. Skilled nursing homes and communities are typically prepared to provide these services as part of their standard of care.
Some people try to combine their own personal caregiving or help from a home health care aide with adult day centers. They can be social adult day centers focused on recreation and socialization, or adult day health centers, which provide some limited clinical care onsite. There is also a growing number of Alzheimer’s / dementia specialized adult day health centers.
Many adult day health centers require attendance of at least three days per week, and most offer rides to participants. State Medicaid waiver and the PACE program cover a daily rate in the low hundreds, and this varies by state. Some states forbid beneficiaries from receiving payment for home health and adult day care on the same day through Medicaid.
While you should be able to find an adult day or at-home dementia care for under $2,000 per month in most regions of the country, many adult day centers aren't equipped to deal with Alzheimer's or dementia residents once their conditions have progressed to the advanced stages.
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:
One of the questions you need to consider is what the average monthly cost for memory care that you can afford. How do you know how to figure that out?
Here's what you need to know.
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, personal care alone, and all sorts of other incidental costs.
Start by sitting down and calculating what your own daily living or your loved ones' 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 them against their income in retirement, which may include pensions, interest or annuity income, Social Security, long-term care insurance policies, and investment income.
Seniorly data also shows that on average, families underestimate their budget by about 20%, meaning they can actually afford more than originally thought once they factor in inclusions and amenities provided by the community.
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.
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 the 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 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 in total.
While Medicare will not pay for care within an assisted living community, it will pay for certain types of medical and care services provided in that type of community.
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, day care or in senior living communities.
Medicaid can also cover hospice care as an add-on service in any memory care community or assisted living facility, so long as their provider qualifies them as eligible. Hospice care is severely underused and could be helpful in meeting the advanced needs of persons in the later stages of Alzheimers’s or dementia. Qualification for these waivers is based on your loved one's inability to care for themselves at home adult day health care alone, as well as on their income level. Most mid to late-stage dementia residents are able to qualify.
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 with financial assistance might be available.
Veterans Affairs also has programs to help veterans of war with some assisted living costs. In addition, you should talk to the staff at the various memory care facilities and communities you're considering.
That way, you'll be able to see what suggestions they have to make the cost of memory care more affordable for you and your loved one.
In the pursuit of finding the best care for your loved one with memory loss, understanding the ins and outs of the cost is a vital aspect of the decision-making process.
Having clarity around the cost of memory care ensures your ability to navigate financial considerations with confidence. By exploring the available resources and information, you'll be able to make a well-informed decision that prioritizes your or your loved one's peace of mind.
Arthur Bretschneider is CEO and Co-Founder of Seniorly. As a third generation leader in the senior living industry, Arthur brings both deep compassion and a wealth of practical experience to his work at Seniorly. Arthur holds an MBA from Haas School of Business and has been featured in the New York Times and Forbes Magazine as a thought leader in the senior living space. Arthur is a passionate and vocal advocate for improving the lives of older adults through community, and believes strongly that structured senior living environments can positively impact the aging experience.
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