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As the boomers move into the age of retirement, more and more people find themselves facing Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. In 2017, the Alzheimer’s Association reported that more than five million people were living with Alzheimer’s, the main cause of dementia. With someone in the US developing the disease every sixty-six seconds, it’s believed that number could easily triple by 2050.
There is no cure for dementia and the burden for care often falls on the shoulders of an unpaid and untrained family member. Although they are doing all they can to care for their loved one, it can become overwhelming. Often coping with difficult circumstances with very little sleep and little to no respite, family caregivers soon realize they can no longer do it alone. You may be one such caregiver. You have done all you can to care for your loved one, but find you can no longer keep them safe because they require twenty-four-hour supervision and you require sleep, and you might even like to have a life of your own … doing the things you once loved with friends you seldom see anymore.
As you try to make decisions about memory care for yourself or a loved one, you may find you have more questions than answers, especially when it comes to the cost of memory care. Memory care (a type of care rather than a place of care although there are memory care dedicated communities) is more intensive than other types of senior care, such as assisted living, although not always as medically intensive as a nursing home or skilled nursing care. Memory care requires around the clock supervision and specialized facilities to deal with issues such as elopement. With this in mind, let’s look more closely at memory care costs.
Not surprising, memory care costs run higher than many other types of senior care, such as assisted living. Costs can vary greatly from state to state. For a period of time when dementia is in the mild to moderate stage, until the need for supervision and assistance becomes too great, individuals with dementia can live within the general population of an assisted living community. When that becomes no longer feasible during the mid- to late-stages of the illness, they will be required to move to a nursing home, a memory care community or a skilled nursing care facility. A memory care community can be a secured, locked-down unit or dedicated wing within an assisted living community or may be a standalone community devoted entirely to memory care. Memory care units provide greater supervision, often around the clock, and greater security. There are more cameras in the public areas, plus secure entrances, exits and outdoor living areas to prevent elopement. Staff to resident ratios are lower and the staff is trained to manage the impulsivity and reduced safety awareness that individuals with memory issues exhibit. Activities are geared specifically to those with memory loss and schedules are very routine. Rooms don’t include a kitchen.
Depending upon the state in which you reside, in 2016 the daily costs associated with memory care in a secure facility ran anywhere between $121 and $230 per day with the average cost being closer to $165 each day.
Multiplying that out, the monthly cost associated with memory care ran anywhere between $3,700 and $7,000 per month in 2016, with the average being closer to $5,000 each month. Costs associated with care when living among the general population of an assisted living community ran approximately $1,200 less each month until required to move into a memory care specific facility.
Again, multiplying that out, the yearly cost of memory care ran between $44,400 and $84,000 in 2016 with the average cost being $60,000 each year. However, you can expect costs to consistently rise each year including cost increases in 2017 and 2018.
Memory care costs vary widely from state to state. Check the following chart to determine what the average cost of memory care is in your state.
|State||Avg. Monthly Cost|
Want to know more? The Genworth cost of care survey has been the basis of long-term care planning strategies since 2004 and helps families plan for the expenses related to long-term care. They have created a cost of care calculator which enables you to select a state and see the cost of various types of care in that state. The calculator allows you to see daily, monthly and yearly costs as well as project what the costs will be in the future through 2047.
Unless care is provided in a skilled nursing community, meaning that there are medically intensive care needs other than dementia, memory care costs will need to be covered with private funds.
Medicare doesn’t cover the cost of memory care when it’s provided in assisted living or a memory care specific community; however, Medicare may cover the cost of care when certain criteria are met for a specified period of time, usually up to 100 days for skilled nursing care under limited circumstances. For example, Medicare will cover any inpatient hospital care after certain criteria have been met, some medical items and some doctor’s fees. Many prescription medications are covered by Medicare Part D. Once a patient with dementia is admitted into hospice care, Medicare will pay for most, if not all, of the cost of care.
Medicare Special Needs Plans (SNPs) are available for persons with dementia. SNPs are Medicare Advantage plans specializing in care for beneficiaries with dementia.
Medicaid provides health care coverage to eligible elderly adults, people with disabilities and others.
For facilities that accept Medicaid, some long-term costs are covered. Locations that offer Medicaid beds only set aside a limited number of them and memory care communities do so less often than other senior care provider facilities that accept Medicaid. Since Medicaid is funded jointly by each state and the federal government, coverage varies from state to state.
Some adult day care costs, primarily for low-income seniors, may be covered by the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE), a partnership between Medicare and Medicaid.
Although Medicaid requires a “spend down” before qualifying, a spousal protection rule enables healthy spouses some asset protection. The amount of protection varies from state to state.
Find out more specifics about Medicaid benefits at Medicaid.gov.
In cases where IRS criteria have been met, the cost of dementia care may qualify as a deductible medical expense. In some cases, the entire bill may be tax deductible as a valid medical expense with a written assessment signed by a doctor stating that level of care is required.
Get advice from someone familiar with the tax laws and eldercare in your area.
Given the high cost of memory care, many people wonder how long they’ll need to be able to cover its expense and if they have enough funds to cover that length of time. Because dementia is progressive, more and more care will be required over time. Generally, the changes are gradual, but some causes of dementia cause deterioration to happen more quickly. It can’t be said specifically since each dementia case is unique; however, the average life expectancy for someone with Alzheimer’s is 17 months in a memory care community, with mortality rates of less than a year for more than fifty percent of residents. This means that some, but not most, individuals live substantially longer.
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