Memory care in Alabama provides a living environment including room and board and medical services for people with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia. It is officially called “specialty care assisted living facilities for residents with dementia or Alzheimer’s symptoms.” These homes may also be called a “Dementia Care Facility” or an “Alzheimer’s Care Facility,” and fall under three categories:
– Family: two or three residents
– Group: between three and 16 residents
– Congregate: 17 or more residents
Every resident in Alabama specialty care receives general supervision and health services. Assistance with activities of daily living like eating and grooming may also be provided. A detailed screening is required before admittance, to assess someone’s physical and mental states. The screening must also determine whether the home can fulfill that person’s needs. People with chronic health conditions requiring full-time nursing care may not be admitted into specialty care homes.
The average cost of memory care per month in Alabama is $4,268, which breaks down to about $140 per day and $51,216 annually. Regulations in Alabama require every resident (or resident’s caregiver) to receive a financial agreement prior to admission that includes a list of regular charges and any possible additional charges. File this document as defense against unexpected costs. Assisted living, without the additional services required for memory care, costs Alabama residents about $3,261 per month and $39,132 annually. Alabama has some of the least expensive assisted living in the nation.
The state’s most expensive place for memory care is the Auburn area, where memory care costs about $5,424 per month and $65,088 annually. The least expensive city for memory care is Gadsden, for about $3,271 per month and $39,252 per year. In Alabama’s biggest city, Birmingham, memory care costs $4,786 per month and $57,432 annually. In Montgomery, it costs about $4,108 monthly and $49,296 annually.
Every resident must have a medical examination within 30 days of moving into an assisted living facility, and an individual plan of care must be developed. For people moving into a specialty care home (memory care), two assessments on required forms must be completed: a Physical Self Maintenance Scale, and a Behavior Screening Form. Every specialty care assisted living home must have a minimum score for residents on their Physical Self Maintenance Scale.
Further screening is also required to move into specialty care, including:
– Clinical history
– Mental status examination including an aphasia screening (to assess communication ability)
– Geriatric depression screen
– Physical functioning screen
– Behavior screen
Residents with the following issues may not live in Alabama specialty care:
– Requires restraints for confinement
– Chronic health conditions requiring extensive nursing care
– Requires daily professional observation
– Requires care beyond assistance with activities of daily living
Someone who needs skilled nursing care for less than 90 days may be allowed to stay in specialty care if certain obligations are met.
Private living units or bedrooms must be at least 80 square feet for one person and 130 square feet for two people. Two is the maximum allowed in one unit in specialty care. There must be a toilet and sink for every six residents and one shower for every eight residents. Alarm systems and fire detection including sprinklers and smoke alarms must be up to building codes.
At least two employees must be on-duty at all times in specialty care assisted living homes. Every specialty care home must have a medical director who is a physician licensed to practice medicine in Alabama, and who is responsible for implementation of care policies and coordination of medical care in the residence. Additionally, every residence needs to employ a registered nurse and a unit coordinator who manages daily routine operations. All staff who have contact with patients must receive appropriate training, including the Dementia Education and Training Series on dealing with issues related to Alzheimer’s and other dementias, and at least six hours of continuing education annually.
In Alabama, unlike other states, there are no Medicaid programs that help pay for costs in assisted living. However, Medicaid will pay for nursing home care for residents with dementia that require that level of care. The American Council on Aging provides a free, fast and non-binding Medicaid eligibility test on their website.
Veterans are statistically more likely to develop dementia. Relevant in all states including Alabama is the VA’s Aid & Attendance pension program for veterans and surviving spouses, which is an amount of money added to veterans’ and survivors’ basic pensions. Applicants must be at least 65 years old (or disabled) and require assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) like eating, bathing, and mobility. The cash assistance from these pensions can be used as the recipient wishes, meaning it can go toward the cost of memory care. In addition, the cost of residential care can be deducted from one’s income, effectively reducing the amount of calculable income used to determine the benefit amount. The latest (2020) maximum amount a veteran can receive through A&A is $27,194 per year, and surviving spouses can receive as much as $14,761. Learn more here.
There are also veterans’ homes in Alabama, which are residential care facilities that provide long-term care for veterans. In addition to nursing home care, assisted living and memory care may be provided. Payment is made directly from the VA to the facility. State veterans’ homes are typically reserved for veterans whose need for care stems at least 70 percent from their military service. Because there is often a waiting list, contact a home before visiting to see if your loved one is eligible to live there.
Other ways to help pay for memory care include tax credits and deductions like the Credit for the Elderly and the Disabled, or the Child and Dependent Care Credit (if you can claim your elderly loved one as a dependent). Remember also that medical and dental expenses can be deducted, and that may include some assisted living costs.
A reverse mortgage may be a good option for a married person moving into memory care, if their spouse continues to live in the home. Should the spouse move from their home, the reverse mortgage would become due.
Elder care loans are for families to cover initial costs of moving into memory care, if you need a little help at first but can afford costs after the initial payments. For example, if one is waiting for a VA pension to be approved or waiting to sell a home.