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Top Ways to Save and Questions to Ask on the Cost of Memory Care

Merritt Whitley
By Merritt WhitleyJuly 20, 2020

Pricing varies widely among memory care communities, says Niki Gewirtz, a Senior Living Advisor for A Place for Mom and a former executive director at a memory care community. Location, amenities, and care needs all factor into the price tag. Our top 10 questions and tips on saving money will help you find the best deal for your memory care dollars.

Everything you need to know about memory care costs

Learn about potential costs and services before speaking to a memory care community.

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What’s the cost of memory care?

The average cost of memory care is about $5,000 a month. The cost fluctuates based on the community and location and can span anywhere from $2,000 to $7,000 or more a month.

Why are memory care units more expensive than assisted living?

Memory care — also known as dementia care or memory care units — typically costs more than assisted living because it includes:

  • Staff trained to manage dementia behavior
  • Customized therapies 
  • A unique building layout
  • Person-centered activities
  • Different care levels for residents with dementia

What’s included in Alzheimer’s care?

“All community setups and levels of care will be different,” says Gewirtz. “For example, some may have certain types of lifts or other mobility or transfer assistance, while others may not.”

While many communities have unique features, dementia units generally include:

  • Assistance with bathing, dressing, and other activities of daily living
  • Medication management
  • Independent or group activities
  • Meals, drinks, and snacks
  • Enhanced safety features

Additional costs in memory care facilities

Extra costs in memory care facilities can include:

  • Beauty services such as manicures or haircuts
  • Laundry services
  • Specialty care items, such as incontinence supplies or food-thickening powder
  • Podiatry services
  • Lunch outings

10 questions about costs to ask a memory care community

Knowing what to ask means you won’t be surprised by memory care costs now or in the future.

  1. What’s the price? It’s not uncommon for memory care prices to change month to month. For example, you may be quoted differently depending on the month, time of year, and vacancy. Memory care units may reduce their base price if they have vacant rooms.
  2. What’s included? Many communities offer an all-inclusive monthly fee while others have different prices based on care needs. For example, they may have different tiers such as low, medium, high, and a base fee to cover food, housekeeping, laundry, and utilities. Be sure to clarify what kind of care and essentials are included in the cost.
  3. Does the price increase annually? The typical annual price increase ranges from 3-8%, according to Gewirtz.
  4. Is there a community entry fee or deposit? The majority of communities have a community fee and/or deposit. Ask what’s required upfront, because it can range from $1,000 to the cost of your first month’s rent.
  5. Are there any move-in incentives? Most communities have a toolbox of pricing discounts they can offer, such as:
    • End-of-year rates. Deals are common around the holidays, when fewer people want to move.
    • Rate lock-ins. Some communities may offer to freeze your rate — called a rate lock-in — for two years or more.
    • Waived community entry fee. This initial payment may be eliminated as an incentive.
  6. How much are the various rooms? Most memory care communities have studio or shared room options. Some communities offer one or two-bedroom options, although these can be more expensive and difficult to find.
  7. What’s the maximum amount of care offered? Your loved one’s care needs will be evaluated as part of the move-in process. However, these may change over time. Knowing the maximum price and care options can help you plan accordingly.
  8. What happens if our family can no longer pay? Is there a grace period or other resources if unforeseen financial difficulties arise?
  9. How often will care plans be reviewed? If your loved one goes to the hospital, or if their care needs change, they may need different care and treatments. Reviewing your loved one’s care plan is important to their health and could affect costs.
  10. Will I need to purchase any specialty items? The cost of incontinence supplies, for example, may not be covered by some communities. Ask if there are any items related to your loved one’s care that you’ll need to pay extra for.

3 tips to save on memory care costs

Helping your family save a little bit can go a long way. Here are three tips to cut costs:

  1. Move at the end of the year. Discounts can be more prominent around the winter holidays.
  2. Consider a roommate. Splitting the cost of a room can be one of the best ways to save. In addition to cost effectiveness, having a roommate may be comforting, says Gewirtz.
  3. Ask for a deal or move-in incentive. If you don’t ask, you’ll never know, says Gewirtz. Most communities are willing to negotiate on some fees and offer specials.

Find affordable memory care communities near you

Do you have questions or want to learn more about the cost of memory care in your area? Contact our Senior Living Advisors for help scheduling tours and learning about dementia care.

Merritt Whitley
Merritt Whitley

Merritt Whitely is an editor at A Place for Mom. She developed health content for seniors at Hearing Charities of America and the National Hearing Aid Project. She’s also managed multiple print publications, blogs, and social media channels for seniors as the marketing manager at Sertoma, Inc.

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