How to Pay for Memory Care Services
Many people with Alzheimer’s and similar diseases live meaningful and enjoyable lives for many years after they are diagnosed with their condition. Often, a person with dementia can flourish when they receive personalized attention, appropriate medical care and access to social activities that fit their abilities.
Memory care services are a good way for people to get these services. Unfortunately, memory care is not cheap, and the financial demands of dementia care can prove a challenge to people with dementia and their families.
The good news is that people with dementia can access a variety of financial resources to help them pay for their care. In this article we’ll take a look at just how much memory care services and dementia care costs, as well as how you can help pay for it.
Dementia Care Costs
America spends about $277 billion annually on Alzheimer’s disease, which is only one of many types of dementia. According to one study, the average cost of the final five years of dementia care, which is typically when adults need the most support, stands at $287,038. That’s roughly 30 percent more than the cost of care for heart disease or cancer. When you consider that people with dementia can live 10-20 years after receiving a diagnosis, these costs can grow significantly.
Some people with dementia live at home, receiving care from family, friends or paid caregivers. The costs for this choice vary widely depending on the person’s unique situation. Other people choose to live in memory care or assisted living. These options can run between $3,500 and $10,000 per month. A study published in the 2019 Genworth Cost of Care Survey put the annual cost of assisted living in Florida at $42,000. That’s in addition to doctor’s visits, hospital stays and other expenses associated with dementia and older adult healthcare.
Specialized memory care services often come at a higher cost, but don’t let those numbers scare you. Costs vary based on location and there are affordable memory care communities in Florida. At The Sterling Aventura, for example, our memory care pricing starts at $4,500 per month and is all-inclusive, so you don’t have to worry about extra fees.
Regardless of how affordable the services you find are, however, many families still need some help paying for the services their relatives need. So how can you cover the cost of memory care services for yourself, a partner or parent? Let’s look at how to pay for memory care.
5 Ways to Pay for Memory Care
1. Personal or Retirement Savings
Probably the cleanest and most straightforward way to pay for care is to fund it yourself. Money tucked away in a traditional or Roth IRA, cash value life insurance policy or 401K can help cover memory care costs. People who are older than 59½ can withdraw money from their retirement accounts without incurring penalties.
Besides retirement accounts, people with dementia can draw on savings, brokerage accounts, stocks, bonds, valuable artwork or real estate to pay for their care. Some people can benefit from a reverse mortgage in which a lender loans a homeowner over age 62 a portion of the equity in their home while allowing them to keep the title to the property. Other people may sell their real estate, rely on annuities or use their pension plans to help pay for dementia care.
2. Federal Assistance Programs Such as Medicare or Medicaid
Medicare is a federally funded program that assists people over age 65 with healthcare costs. Most people who receive Social Security benefits also qualify for Medicare, but to take full advantage of the program you should apply three months prior to your 65th birthday. Medicare covers expenses related to inpatient hospital care and some doctor’s fees. By purchasing Medicare Part D, you can also receive help paying for prescription drugs. Beyond that, Medicare will cover hospice care and up to 100 days of skilled nursing for individuals who need additional support, such as those with dementia.
Like Medicare, Medicaid is a public program, but it is jointly funded by federal and state governments. Medicaid assists people with low incomes or asset levels with their healthcare expenses. A person with dementia who has spent all their personal resources may apply to receive benefits from Medicaid.
Many people plan on Medicare or Medicaid helping them to cover the costs of long-term assisted living along with general healthcare expenses. Medicare does not pay for long-term assisted living or memory care, however, but Medicaid may fund assisted living costs in pre-approved settings.
3. Veterans Affairs Support
Qualifying military veterans can access support for memory care from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Typically, the VA assists with respite care, adult day health care, home-based primary care or a homemaker or home health aide. VA funds may also support stays in an inpatient hospital, an outpatient clinic, a nursing home, palliative care or hospice care. In certain cases, the VA also provides support for the care partners of veterans with dementia. The VA may provide some assistance for long-term care under the Aid and Attendance benefit, which is in addition to your normal VA pension, for those that qualify.
To qualify for VA support, you must have served in active air, naval or military service; not have been dishonorably discharged and meet a few other criteria.
4. Long-Term Care Insurance
Investing in long-term care insurance in your mid-50s or earlier can return significant benefits if you choose to take advantage of Florida memory care options. A long-term care policy usually offers many more choices for where you can live than Medicare, Medicaid or Veterans Affairs, all of which are publicly funded initiatives.
Unlike programs such as Medicaid that require recipients to spend almost all their personal assets before offering support, long-term care insurance can help you protect your savings and investments while covering your Alzheimer’s care costs. Premiums on these policies can be steep, so some people opt for a long-term care rider on a whole life policy instead of a separate long-term care insurance plan. As with any investment decision, it’s always wise to consult your financial professional before purchasing long-term care insurance.
5. Florida State Support
In addition to Medicaid, the State of Florida offers financial support to people with dementia through the Department of Elder Affairs. People interested in these and other state-funded resources should contact the Area Agency on Aging. Local nonprofit organizations may also offer help to people with dementia and their care partners. To learn more, contact the closest chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.
Finding and Paying for Memory Care
At The Sterling Aventura, we make sure our memory care services are affordable and that our community provides a comfortable, calming environment for individuals with any stage or type of dementia. Contact us to learn how we can help you or your relative find and pay for the support they need.