Deciding how to pay for memory care for your loved one with dementia is a major decision. Here are some potential options.

Watching someone you care about develop dementia is one of life’s most difficult experiences. But when you’re also responsible for your loved one’s care and safety, it can feel overwhelming, both emotionally and financially.

Memory care facilities provide a safe and supportive environment for people with dementia, but they can be quite costly. It’s important to carefully review and compare pricing structures and services offered at different facilities.

The average monthly cost of memory care in the United States is $6,935, according to 2021 NIC statistics. This is more expensive than typical assisted living (about $4,500/month) but less than a private room in a nursing home ($9,034).

The cost of memory care, however, varies depending on several factors, including the level of care, the amenities offered by the facility, and the state in which it’s located.

Average cost of in-home dementia care

While there’s no U.S. national average for a home health aide with dementia training, a paid non-medical home health aide is $27/hour, according to the Genworth Cost of Care Survey: National Median Costs.

Depending on the level of care needed, home care for an older adult with dementia may run anywhere from $25 to $40/hour, which translates to about $4,000 to $6,400/month for full-time care (based on a 40-hour workweek). However, the cost can be higher in some states or areas with a higher cost of living.

Memory care is a specialized form of long-term care designed to provide a safe, supportive, and stimulating environment for people with dementia or other memory-related conditions.

Memory care can be provided in a variety of settings, including in stand-alone facilities or as a specialized unit within an assisted living or skilled nursing facility. About 58% of residential care facilities in the U.S. offer programs for residents with Alzheimer’s or other dementias.

Similar to an assisted living facility, residents in memory care receive meals and help with their personal tasks, but they’re given extra structure and support from staff trained in dementia care. Memory care residents may also participate in activities and therapies designed to boost cognition.

Since people with dementia are likely to wander, memory care facilities have higher security, including alarmed doors, tracking bracelets, elevator codes, and fenced-in outdoor spaces.

When considering memory care for a loved one, it’s important to ask the right questions to fully understand the costs involved and make an informed decision.

Here are 7 questions you might ask about memory care costs:

  1. What’s the base cost for memory care at the facility, and what services and amenities are included in that cost?
  2. Are there any additional fees for services, such as medication management, daily living assistance, or transportation?
  3. Are there any financial assistance programs available to help cover the cost?
  4. Are there different levels of care available, and how do they affect the cost?
  5. What is the policy for increasing the cost of care over time, and how much notice will be given before any price increases?
  6. Is there a minimum stay requirement, and will there be any penalties for early termination of the contract?
  7. Are there any additional costs that could arise during a resident’s stay, such as for medical emergencies or changes in care needs?

Here are several options to help cover the cost of memory care:

  1. Long-term care insurance: Some long-term care insurance policies cover memory care, although the specific coverage and benefits can vary widely depending on the policy.
  2. Medicaid: Medicaid may cover some or all of the cost of memory care for individuals who meet the income requirements. Medicaid is the only public program that covers long nursing home stays that most people need in the severe stage of dementia.
  3. Medicare: Medicare covers home health services, including part-time skilled nursing care, therapy services, and home health aide care (e.g. bathing, dressing).
  4. Veterans Administration: Veterans and their spouses may be eligible for financial assistance for memory care through the Veterans Administration.
  5. Reverse mortgage: A reverse mortgage allows homeowners age 62 and older to borrow against the equity in their home to help pay for memory care.
  6. Private funds: Many families pay for memory care using their own personal savings or retirement funds — individual retirement accounts (IRAs), pension plans, social security, and annuities.
  7. State funds: Some states offer financial assistance to people with dementia. These programs often help by paying for adult day care or temporary in-home care.

There are no legal requirements for memory care, but in general, you need to have a diagnosis of a memory impairment condition, such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

Memory care facilities may also have other criteria for admission, such as the ability to pay for care and a willingness to participate in the facility’s programs and services.

To qualify for government-funded memory care programs, you may need to meet certain eligibility criteria which vary by state and program.

Paying for memory care can be expensive, but there are several strategies that can help you save money on the cost of care. Here are some tips:

  • Consider long-term care insurance: Long-term care insurance can help cover the cost of memory care.
  • Consider shared living arrangements: Shared living arrangements, such as group homes or shared apartments, can be less expensive than private rooms in memory care facilities.
  • Look into government-funded programs: Government-funded programs, such as Medicaid, may provide financial assistance for memory care. This U.S. government site provides several resources and support links for caregivers.
  • Explore community resources: Community resources, such as adult day care centers and respite care programs, may provide affordable alternatives to full-time memory care.
  • Look into tax credits for dementia: Tax credits like the Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled can help cover much of the cost of memory care. Some states have their own credits available on top of federal help.
  • Visit reputable dementia sites: The Alzheimer’s Association provides an excellent list of resources on paying for dementia care.

Choosing how to care for your loved one with dementia is a major decision.

If you choose out-of-home care, it’s important to carefully research and evaluate memory care facilities to find the best fit for your needs, preferences, and budget.

It may be helpful to work with a healthcare professional or care manager to navigate the process of seeking memory care and accessing available resources.