How much does memory care cost?

After finding out a loved one has been diagnosed with dementia, not only do you need to confront fears about Alzheimer’s disease, but you also need to think about the mounting expenses associated. Because there’s currently no cure for dementia, there is a lot of uncertainty about what exactly can be done and for how much. This is where memory care facilities can help!

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Memory care communities are a true haven for those in any stage of the dementia disease process. The communities are designed to feel cozy and homelike while nurturing an environment that takes away the stressors that come with dementia. That way, residents are encouraged to cultivate their cognitive growth and skills. While memory care services can’t stop dementia, it can help slow the progress of the disease by providing assistance, structure, and strategies to the lives of the patients. Learn more about the pricing for this type of senior care below. 

What is the Average Cost of a Memory Care Facility?

The average cost of a memory care facility can vary greatly based on the state, level of care required, and more. Typically, you can expect to pay a monthly fee of around $4,000. According to data over a recent 15-year period from Genworth, the cost for facility and in-home care services has risen on average between 1% – 3% per year.

The forms of dementia don’t start all at once though. From the first signs of memory loss to the later stages, the living costs may increase as the disease progresses. Here are the average annual costs of dementia care ranging from least mild—found in earlier stages— to most severe cognitive decline:

  • Stages 1-3: $5,000
  • Stages 3-5: $48,000
  • Stages 6-7: $90,000

What’s Included in the Cost of Memory Care?

While these numbers could seem shocking for some individuals and their loved ones, it may be a small price to pay when looking at all the great services that are included in the monthly costs. These include:

  • Room and board: Typically included in the monthly rent, these charges include the space and utilities for private or semi-private rooms. Sometimes, certain amenities can be opted into, including cable, Wi-Fi, three meals per day, weekly or daily housekeeping services, laundry services, and more.
  • Assistance with activities of daily living: Extra charges may be applied when your loved one begins to need more assistance with dressing, bathing, toileting, or eating. 
  • Access to medical care services: Staff members, such as nurses and caregivers, can help with medication management, health monitoring, and skilled nursing care needs.  All medical personnel are required to take training classes on dementia care and successful intervention. 
  • Medical supplies, including incontinence needs: For most communities, medical supplies and incontinence supplies (like adult briefs) may be billed at an additional rate, while some supplies can be billed toward Medicare or secondary insurance reimbursement.
  • Socialization opportunities: One of the best ways memory care programs can help slow the progression of dementia is to help seniors stay social and keep their minds engaged in interactions with others and family members. Wellness opportunities build connections in the brain, which is important for anyone who is suffering from dementia; therefore, these community activities can incur a small additional charge. Examples could be a theater ticket, snacks on a fishing trip, or lunch out at a favorite diner. 
  • A variety of therapies available: At times, your loved one’s doctor or the care plan team may recommend physical, speech, occupational therapy. Other times, it may be useful to take a holistic approach that focuses on the person, not the disease. These treatments include music therapy, art therapy, and pet therapy which can all greatly improve the mindset and the emotional wellbeing of an individual. 
  • Stimulation and engagement programs: Keeping dementia patients active and entertained during the day with activities that aren’t difficult gives their minds something to focus on and helps keep cognitive functions sharp. Sensory and stimulation programs are used in memory care facilities to encourage cognitive skills that can fade over time if not properly engaged. 
  • Specialized dining programs: Eating well-balanced meals can have a positive effect on mental acuteness, ward off illness, and improve energy levels. Memory care facilities also have dining programs prepared for different variations on dementia behavior, such as wandering, problems with fine motor skills, and struggling to swallow. 
  • Safety: Memory care facilities are also designed to help ensure the safety of the patients within them. Often, the units are easy-to-navigate and have railings and barriers that can help prevent falls that are a result of mobility loss from dementia. Other solutions include locked doors, indoor courtyards, and sensor systems in order to ensure that residents do not wander out of the community unassisted. 

Keep in mind that each senior living community is different, as is each situation and each need. Double check with your chosen community to review the financial specifics before you sign a contract.

Is Memory Care More Expensive than Assisted Living?

Memory care may be considered more expensive than assisted living because it offers specialized treatment. However, assisted living communities that offer memory care units on campus are the first option to consider when looking for dementia care. This type of residential care works well for a senior who is in the early stages of the disease and exhibiting some mild cognitive impairment issues, or it works well for couples in which one spouse has dementia while the other does not. The socialization and quick access to assistance and medical intervention (24/7 nursing staff, medication assistance, etc.) is excellent for the resident and can put you at ease knowing that your loved one is safe. 

However, there are some drawbacks to assisted living for those who are in later stages of the disease. For example, assisted living facilities were not built with security in mind for patients who tend to wander. Another drawback is that the staff members are typically not trained in dementia-specific techniques and interactions to help residents who are confused and aggressive, or who need a significant amount of prompting for daily tasks. Because memory care-only facilities exclusively offer these specialized staff and services—not simply as an add-on like in assisted living— you can expect to pay a little more because of this skilled labor. 

How Do You Pay for Long-Term Dementia Care?

While memory care may be more expensive than assisted living, it’s important to understand the full scope of service you get for the cost of taking care of someone who is dear to you. You have a few options to help offset these costs. 

  • Medicare: According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Medicare may be able to cover some of the doctor’s fees and inpatient hospital care for people over the age of 65 suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia. It will also pay for up to 100 days of skilled nursing care under limited circumstances, but keep in mind that long-term nursing home care isn’t covered. Furthermore, Medicare usually will not cover in-home health aides, custodial or personal care, or assisted living for dementia patients.
  • Medicaid: Medicaid is a great option for dementia patients who are low-income but still require highly-skilled care. Qualifying for Medicaid is not an easy task but, once qualified, Medicaid will pay 100% of nursing home costs at an approved facility.
  • Insurance: For the most part, insurance can help pay for some of the costs of memory care. Unlike Medicare, it covers adult day care, physician visits, some home health care, skilled nursing, and more.
  • Veteran Assistance: If your loved one served the country, you may be able to look into financial assistance from veteran’s benefits. While the VA may not offer dementia-specific programs, it does provide assistance that may offset these costs.
  • Other Options: From state-funded, non-Medicaid assistance programs to long-term care insurance, reverse mortgages, annuities, Social Security, and even relocating to lower-cost states, there are many ways to help pay for the ongoing costs of dementia eldercare.

Need more help? Caring Advisor representatives are here to help you find long-term care you can trust and afford. To learn more, find a memory care facility and ask questions!