Payment Options & Financial Assistance for Alzheimer's / Dementia Care

Page Reviewed / Updated - Apr. 2014

Paying for Alzheimer's Care Overview

Alzheimer's disease, dementia and other related memory disorders such as Lewy Body and FTD affect over 5 million aging Americans. Depending on the stage of these diseases, individuals can require 24 hour supervision or care. This means each year in the US, there are billions of hours spent caring for individuals with these conditions.  While the vast majority of that care is provided by friends and family members, what happens when those caregivers are not available? Who pays for Alzheimer's care? Fortunately, there are many programs that provide financial assistance, respite care and other forms of aid to help families and caregivers.

 Did You Know?  The worldwide cost of dementia care is over $600 billion. If dementia care were a country, it would be the world’s 18th largest economy.

Types and Costs of Alzheimer's Care

Prior to a discussion of the financial resources available to assist individuals stricken with Alzheimer's, it is helpful to understand the different types of Alzheimer's and dementia care, how they differ from regular home care or assisted living and what these services typically cost.  The following information is current for year 2014.

Alzheimer's Care at Home
Most home care providers do not charge higher fees for individuals with Alzheimer's, rather they have a flat rate for home care services and a slightly higher rate for home health care services.  Depending on one's state this figure ranges from $14 to $25 / hour with a national average of $19 / hour.  Home health care is just slightly higher ranging from $15 to $26 / hour and a national average of $20 / hour. See each states' average home care costs.

 A major challenge, for those caring for individuals with Alzheimer's at home, is wandering; the tendency of individuals to leave the home, get lost and have difficulty returning.  Residential care facilities have security which prevents wandering but until recently private residences did not have this option.  Now there are new products which use the Internet to enable real-time location monitoring.  This can greatly reduce incidents and the cost of caring for a loved one's with Alzheimer's at home.  Learn more.

Alzheimer's Care in Senior Living / Assisted Living Residences
Approximately 75% of senior living residences are able to accommodate individuals with Alzheimer's or dementia.  Often, these facilities refer to themselves as Memory Care Residences.  Almost all senior or assisted living residences have security systems in place to prevent wandering. The security might be locking doors in a special Alzheimer's wing, informed security guards or electronic location monitoring.

Depending on one's state of residence, assisted or senior living costs approximately $2,500 to $5,500 / month. The national average in 2014 is $3,500/ month. Alzheimer's care in assisted living communities costs approximately $1,150 more each month. See the average Alzheimer's care cost in your state.

Alzheimer's Care in Nursing Homes
Almost all nursing homes or skilled nursing facilities are equipped to provide services for those stricken with Alzheimer's or dementia. Most do not charge additionally since comparatively these individuals do not require more care than other nursing home residents.

In 2014, the national average amount paid for a shared room in a skilled nursing facility was $212 / day or $6,360 / month.  State daily averages ranged from $139 - $650.  Sharing a residence reduces the cost to 80-90% of that for a private room.

Alzheimer's Care at Adult Day Care Centers
Adult day care centers, like nursing homes, typically do not charge additional fees for individuals with Alzheimer's or dementia. However it is important to recognize that many centers are not able to accommodate individuals in the later stages of the disease.

Adult day care is typically charged by the day or half-day instead of by the hour like home care. The national average day-rate for adult day care for 2014 is $65. Assuming 22 days of care per month, this works out to approximately $1,430 / month.

Cost of Alzheimer's Medications
Regardless of the location in which the care is provided, many individuals with Alzheimer's or dementia require prescription drugs. Consumer Reports finds that the average individual with Alzheimer's pays between $150 - $200 / month for their medications.

 

Payment Options / Financial Assistance For Alzheimer's Care

For most families the expenses of caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's or dementia are covered not by a single source but instead by contributions from a variety of sources.  Some of these resources are specifically designed for Alzheimer's patients and others are of a more general nature.

Did You Know?  A new blood test can detect Alzheimer’s disease before its symptoms arise with over 90% accuracy.  Unfortunately, this test is not yet available worldwide.

Medicare's Benefits for Alzheimer's & Dementia

There is not a simple answer to the question "does Medicare pay for Alzheimer's care?". Medicare, like most health insurance, does not differentiate Alzheimer's and dementia care from other conditions such as heart disease.  Instead, Medicare has certain policies with regards to when and how much it will pay for care. For example, Medicare will pay for 100% of the cost of nursing home care if it is medically necessary for 20 days and 80% of the cost for an additional 80 days.  If an individual with Alzheimer's requires care in a psychiatric hospital, Medicare increases the number of days for which they will provide assistance up to 190 days.

Medicare does not pay for personal care at home or in assisted living and its nursing home benefits are limited to 100 days.

Medicare does not pay for custodial or personal care that is provided in an assisted living residence but will pay for medical care provided in that location. The same applies for home care and adult day care; personal care services, assistance with the activities of daily living and supervision which are typically necessary for Alzheimer's patients are not covered but medical care is covered.  There is a exception to this for individuals receiving hospice care at home.  Medicare will pay for homemaker services which includes personal assistance for individuals determined to be in final 6 months of their life.

Medigap plans, or Medicare Supplementary Insurance, does not specifically provide additional benefits for Alzheimer's patients but does offer supplemental assistance. For example, these policies usually pay the 20% of the cost of nursing home care that Medicare does not pay.

Medicaid & HCBS Waivers and Alzheimer's Care

Medicaid is a state and federally funded health insurance program for low income families and the elderly. Each state administers their Medicaid programs separately and therefore each state offers different benefits with regards to caring for individuals with Alzheimer's or dementia.

Medicaid Waivers are state programs that allow individuals to receive care outside of nursing homes. Instead of requiring institutionalization, Medicaid Waiver participants can receive care, paid for by Medicaid, in their homes, communities and sometimes in assisted or senior living residences. Almost all Medicaid Waivers have both financial eligibility requirements and requirements that the participant have functional limitations. Very few, require a specific diagnosis of Alzheimer's or dementia instead they consider one's ability or inability to care for themselves by accessing their ability to perform their activities of daily living.  Mid to late stage Alzheimer's patients typically qualify for Medicaid benefits quite easily.

For more information on Medicaid and each states' waivers, please use the following links: General Medicaid, Home Care Waivers, Assisted Living Waivers, Adult Day Care Waivers.

State Non-Medicaid Assistance Programs for Alzheimer's

There are many state-funded or state-managed assistance programs that are designed for low income individuals that require assistance with activities of daily living. While not specifically designed for Alzheimer's patients, given that many Alzheimer's patient are not working, have low incomes and require daily assistance, it is fairly common for these individuals to qualify for these programs. See a complete list of state non-Medicaid assistance programs.

In addition to the more generalized assistance programs, several states have programs designed specifically for individuals with Alzheimer's, dementia or related conditions. Unlike the programs described above, these programs usually don't consider an individual's financial income or assets as an eligibility factor. They simply require a diagnosis of Alzheimer's, dementia or other related memory disorder to qualify for the program.
Alaska Adult Day Services
Alaska Senior In-Home (SIH) Services
California Alzheimer's Day Care
Delaware Adult Day Care and Alzheimer's Day Treatment
Florida Alzheimer’s Disease Initiative
Kentucky Adult Day Care and Alzheimer's Respite Program
North Carolina Project C.A.R.E.
Oregon Project Independence
West Virginia Family Alzheimer’s In-Home Respite
Wisconsin Alzheimer's Family &Caregiver Support
Vermont Dementia Care Respite

Respite Care for Alzheimer's Caregivers

Respite care is temporary assistance provided to the primary caregiver to allow them a break from caring for an individual with Alzheimer's or dementia. It can be provided in the home or in an adult day care center. Respite care is sometimes provided free of charge or other times at a greatly reduced hourly rate. There are many different organizations and programs offering respite care services and it is worth noting that often times these are home care companies selling home care and marketing it as respite care even though they are charging the full hourly rate.

There are also federally funded programs that provide reduced rate or free respite care such as the Lifespan Respite Care, the National Family Caregiver Support Program as well as programs specific to individual states including Florida's Project R.E.L.I.E.F., New Jersey's Statewide Respite Care and Oklahoma Respite Resource.

Non-Profits and Foundation Assistance for Alzheimer's

Two national organizations offer various levels of support and respite care programs for Alzheimer's patients and their families and caregivers. The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America offers “Family Respite Care Grants” by funding local, non-profit, member organizations. These member organizations work directly with the families to administer the grants. It is worth noting that local organizations sometimes combine funds with other sources and therefore the name “Family Respite Care Grants” may not always be used. The Alzheimer’s Association has a respite care program as well. One can read more about both organizations on our non-profit Alzheimer's care page.

Assistance for Veterans with Alzheimer's

While the VA does not have programs specifically for individuals with dementia or Alzheimer's, there are benefits available through other VA programs which are available and relevant to veterans with these conditions.  A pension benefit known as Aid and Attendance can provide the greatest amount of financial assistance, up to approximately 2,000 / month in some cases. There is also VA Respite Care and other assistance available through Veterans' Directed Home and Community Based Services

Using Reverse Mortgages for Alzheimer's Care

The decision on whether or not to use one's home, through a reverse mortgage, to help pay for care is not an easy one.  In many cases, it does not make good economic sense,  but in other situations it does.   

The two most important factors when considering a reverse mortgage to pay for Alzheimer's care are one's marital status and their expected duration of need.

Reverse mortgages come due one year after the homeowner moves from their home.  Given that most individuals with Alzheimer's will eventually require residential care, it becomes a question of how many years until that point.   Should one be at the early stage of the condition and won't require residential care for 5 years, a reverse mortgage might make good sense as a funding resource for occasional assistance around the home.   However, if one might need to move within 2 years, a reverse mortgage would be considered an expensive source of funds.  The exception to this rule when the individual with Alzheimer's has a healthy spouse who will continue to live in the home when the spouse with Alzheimer's moves into a care facility.  In this situation, a reverse mortgage could be a sound decision. 

 Reverse mortgages experts are available to discuss whether or not using one for Alzheimer's care makes sense in your specific situation.  Call 888-834-8820 for assistance.

Life Insurance Conversions

 Life insurance policies can be exchanged for Alzheimer's care services, allowing the policyholder to maintain Medicaid eligibility.

Holders of life insurance policies have several ways by which they can use their policy to help for pay for Alzheimer's care while the individual is still living.  Their first option, for when the policy holder has a limited life expectancy, is to go to the company which issued the policy and to request accelerated death benefits or a death benefit loan.  The second option is to sell the policy.  The buyers will pay a lump sum, take over the monthly payments and collect the death benefit when the individual passes away.  A third option, which offers the highest value for life insurance policies, is to exchange the policy for care services.  For example, an intermediary organization will determine the policy's value and convert that into a specific number of months or years at a residential care facility. There are several other benefits to this approach, learn more here.

Alzheimer's Care Loans

For persons with a short term need for senior care financing, these loans are a good option.  They are most appropriately used when a family is waiting on additional financing.  As an example, a family might be receiving veterans benefit for Alzheimer's care but has to wait 9 months to get through the veterans claims backlog.  Or perhaps, they can afford care but will be paying for it with the proceeds of a home sale.  For more information on the  fees and the other pros and cons for these loans, click here.

Assistance for Medications

Most pharmaceutical companies offer prescription assistance programs, sometimes called PAPs, for individuals that require a prescription but cannot afford the cost of the drug. Medications are provided free of charge or if an individual has insurance, the pharmaceutical company may waive the co-payment costs. To find financial assistance for Alzheimer's medications, individuals should write down the name of all their Alzheimer's medications and search the database of assistance programs at this website. One can also learn more about Prescription Assistance Programs.

Alzheimer's Resource Locator Tool

Our website's database contains information on over 300 programs that provide financial assistance or reduce the cost of caring for the elderly and disabled. Many of this are specifically applicable to those suffering from Alzheimer's, dementia or other related memory disorders. One can search specifically for programs relevant to them by entering their demographic information into our Alzheimer's Resource Locator Tool.

Alzheimer's Costs by State

The table below contains the average cost by state for Alzheimer's Care in assisted living residences. The first column is sort alphabetically and the second column is sorted from the least to the most expensive state.


2014 State Alzheimer's Care Costs in Senior Living
Alphabetical Order From Least to Most Expensive
State Monthly Cost State Monthly Cost
USA $4,650 USA $4,650
Alabama $4,044 Georgia $3,650
Alaska $6,650 Missouri $3,650
Arizona $4,300 Arkansas $4,000
Arkansas $4,000 South Carolina $4,024
California $4,900 Alabama $4,044
Colorado $4,463 Mississippi $4,050
Connecticut $6,439 North Carolina $4,090
Delaware $6,650 Florida $4,150
District of Columbia (D.C.) $8,040 Utah $4,211
Florida $4,150 Oklahoma $4,232
Georgia $3,650 Wyoming $4,240
Hawaii $5,900 North Dakota $4,255
Idaho $4,425 South Dakota $4,260
Illinois $4,955 Arizona $4,300
Indiana $4,874 Louisiana $4,306
Iowa $4,568 Michigan $4,350
Kansas $4,880 Nevada $4,400
Kentucky $4,414 Kentucky $4,414
Louisiana $4,306 Idaho $4,425
Maine $6,100 Pennsylvania $4,430
Maryland $4,550 Nebraska $4,448
Massachusetts $6,397 Montana $4,450
Michigan $4,350 Colorado $4,463
Minnesota $4,553 Maryland $4,550
Mississippi $4,050 Minnesota $4,553
Missouri $3,650 Iowa $4,568
Montana $4,450 Tennessee $4,615
Nebraska $4,448 West Virginia $4,615
Nevada $4,400 New Mexico $4,650
New Hampshire $5,523 Texas $4,673
New Jersey $6,580 New York $4,834
New Mexico $4,650 Indiana $4,874
New York $4,834 Kansas $4,880
North Carolina $4,090 California $4,900
North Dakota $4,255 Illinois $4,955
Ohio $5,121 Wisconsin $5,000
Oklahoma $4,232 Ohio $5,121
Oregon $5,150 Virginia $5,140
Pennsylvania $4,430 Oregon $5,150
Rhode Island $6,045 Vermont $5,225
South Carolina $4,024 Washington $5,400
South Dakota $4,260 New Hampshire $5,523
Tennessee $4,615 Hawaii $5,900
Texas $4,673 Rhode Island $6,045
Utah $4,211 Maine $6,100
Vermont $5,225 Massachusetts $6,397
Virginia $5,140 Connecticut $6,439
Washington $5,400 New Jersey $6,580
West Virginia $4,615 Alaska $6,650
Wisconsin $5,000 Delaware $6,650
Wyoming $4,240 District of Columbia (D.C.) $8,040