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Arizona Residential Alzheimer’s Care (Memory Care): Rules, Costs & Financial Help

Last Updated: November 13, 2022

 

Legal Definition of Assisted Living / Memory Care in Arizona

Arizona’s state regulations say that “assisted living facilities” (ALFs) are residential care settings that fall into three different sizes and levels of care. The number of patients in residences are divided by:

1) Adult foster care: One to four residents.
2) Assisted living homes: Five to ten residents. These are also called “board and care homes”
3) Assisted living centers: Eleven or more residents.

 

Assisted living centers in Arizona are licensed to provide these levels of care:

1) Supervisory: The lowest level offering monitoring, medication administration, and emergency services only.
2) Personal Care: Offers assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) and occasionally nursing services.
3) Directed Care: The highest level of care. This is for residents who are unable to communicate needs or make decisions about themselves and their health.

 

Assisted living residences that are designed and staffed specifically for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias are referred to as Alzheimer’s care, dementia care, or memory care. These types of homes differ from traditional assisted living by:

– Having increased security and supervision
– Requiring additional staff training
– Offering recreational activities appropriate for people with dementia
– Costing more. Directed care is the most expensive care option

Generally, these residences are less expensive than nursing homes and offer a more comfortable environment with better quality of life for their residents. If you need help finding a memory care home that matches your loved one’s specific needs, free assistance is available by clicking this link.

The Arizona Department of Health Services licenses and regulates assisted living in the state under its Bureau of Residential Facilities Licensing. There are more than 330 memory care homes and 1,600 board and care homes.

 

Memory Care Costs in Arizona

 Did You Know? Arizona residents can receive free assistance finding memory care homes that match their needs and budget. Get help here

The average cost of memory care in Arizona in 2022 was about $4,859 per month. Memory care communities in Arizona typically include all room and board costs and a certain number of hours of care each month. Patients with dementia that require more hours of assistance may pay more than the average cost because of additional help.

There are areas within Arizona that are more and less expensive than the statewide average. The least expensive city for assisted living and memory care is Phoenix where the average monthly cost is $4,822. Memory care is most expensive in Flagstaff, where it will cost on average $6,067 monthly.

While the bordering state of New Mexico has costs that are similar to Arizona’s; assisted living with memory care is less expensive in Utah. Arizonans who live in the northern part of the Grand Canyon state, may want to investigate more affordable options on the other side of the state border.

Arizona Memory Care / Assisted Living Costs (updated June 2022)
Region / City Daily Cost Monthly Cost
Statewide $160 $4,859
Phoenix $159 $4,822
Tucson $161 $4,895
Lake Havasu City $188 $5,705
Flagstaff $198 $6,067

 

Arizona Assisted Living Laws and Regulations

Admission Requirements & Process

 Covid-19 Related Measures (updated June 2022)
Covid related precautions have been significantly reduced in recent months. The following still apply.
Residents – Temperatures are checked and residents are tested regularly.
Visitors – Can visit loved ones, must wear a mask and temperature is checked upon entry.
Staff – Have temperatures checked upon entry and are regularly tested.

In Arizona, in order to be admitted to an assisted living residence or memory care there are several requirements that must be met. They are:

– Must not require mental health services
– Must not be confined to bed
– Must not have pressure sores that are stage 3 or 4 in severity
– Must not require ongoing nursing services (exceptions may be made if an independent nurse or hospice care agency is hired)
– Must not require restraints (this includes physical restraints, as well as prescription medications to sedate a resident)

In addition, new residents must be assessed within 14 days of admission and a care plan made. Paying for the evaluation is typically the responsibility of the person moving in, but Medicare recipients get an annual free “wellness visit” (also called a “cognitive assessment”) that screens for dementia symptoms. This is a good way to begin the process of getting evaluated for memory care.

Service plans must be reviewed and revised on a consistent basis: Every 3 months for residents residing in a direct care residence, every 6 months for those in a personal care residence, and once a year for those who are in a supervisory care residence.

The assessment is similar to receiving a diagnosis. It’s important for your loved one’s new home to know their stage of dementia and the level of care required. Someone in the early to middle stages might not need directed care like someone in the later stages (see levels of care above). An official diagnosis is not required to move into Arizona memory care.

Beginning the process early can be very helpful because finding an assisted living home on short notice might not be possible. Additionally, your loved one can provide more input for their care in the earlier stages. In most cases, a family will spend several weeks deciding which assisted living residence is best. They then will spend several more weeks relocating their loved one and getting them settled in. Many assisted living residences have waiting lists, and admission is not always immediate.

 

Facility / Residence

In Arizona, memory care homes for people with dementia must be physically constructed for the safety and wellbeing of the patient. For instance, memory care residences might have an enclosed outdoor area to prevent wandering. Also, activities specifically geared towards patients with dementia are required as well as the availability of staff around the clock.

Private living units (bedrooms) must be at least 80 square feet for one person, and 120 square feet for two people. Two is the maximum number of people allowed in a single living unit. There must be one bathroom with a bath or shower for every eight residents.

 

Staff & Training

All assisted living facility employees must be CPR and first aid certified. Those who provide resident care assistance (formally called caregivers) must be at least 18 years old and have 3 months of experience in the healthcare field. Assistant caregivers must be at least 16 years old.

All staff must undergo training specific to the level of care provided at the residence at which they work. Employees who work with patients who have Alzheimer’s or dementia require additional training. All assisted living facilities must have a manager overseeing operations. Managers must be at least 21 years old with an assisted living facility manager certification. The required number of hours of staff training in Arizona is:

– 20 hours for supervisory care
– 50 hours for personal care
– 62 hours for directed care
– 69 hours for managers
– 6 hours annually for all staff

Those who work in a residence that provides care at the personal level must take 2 additional hours of training on an annual basis, and those who work at a directed care residence must take 4 hours of additional training each year.

Arizona does not have a staff-to-resident ratio requirement in assisted living. Residences are given the flexibility to decide the number of staff that is necessary to meet the needs of their residents.

 

Evictions

In assisted living facilities in Arizona, a resident can be evicted if their needs exceed the level of care provided. Because Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias are progressive, it’s likely that someone admitted into a personal care-level home would eventually need directed care (see levels of care above). In this case an eviction would be necessary, and your loved one would need to find a new home. Residences may assist with relocation, and free help to find the right memory care home is available at this link.

Someone whose behavior worsens so that physical or chemical restraints are required, could also be evicted. Unlike many states, Arizona does not require 30 days notice before a resident has to leave if they are evicted.

Additionally, there are no rules that say someone can be evicted for nonpayment, but residences may have their own policies concerning what to do when someone doesn’t pay their bill. When moving into an assisted living home, you should ask for the specific reasons a person can be evicted, and get these answers in writing. For tips on what to do if you receive an eviction notice, click here.

 

Financial Assistance for Residential Alzheimer’s / Memory Care

While the cost of memory care can be expensive, financial assistance is available for low-income people who need it.

Medicaid

Medicaid is a jointly funded federal and state program. In Arizona, it is called the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS). The program that provides long term home and community based services via AHCCCS is the Arizona Long Term Care System (ALTCS).

In addition to covering the cost of nursing home care, ALTCS will cover the cost of supportive services in a variety of settings, such as one’s home, adult foster care, and assisted living. To be clear, this program will not cover the cost of room and board in assisted living facilities (or memory care units for persons with dementia), but will offer assistance for care services. More on Medicaid eligibility click here.

 

Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) Program

Arizona’s Home and Community Based Services Program does not help to cover the cost of assisted living or its care services. However, it can be beneficial for people with dementia who require assistance with daily living activities and would be able to continue to live at home were family support available.

HCBS is collaboration between the Arizona Department of Economic Security and local Area Agencies on Aging offices. A variety of supportive services are offered and can include meal delivery, housecleaning, personal care assistance, adult day care, and respite care. For more information including how to apply, click here.

 

Veterans Affairs (VA)

Veterans are statistically more likely to develop dementia. Among the reasons for this is that traumatic brain injuries and posttraumatic stress disorder lead to a higher probability of developing the condition. The VA offers many benefits for Alzheimer’s and dementia as well as different pension types.

 

VA Pensions

There are three types of VA Pensions available. The benefits change annually and are valid from December 2022 to December 2023. The benefits (and their maximum allowance) are as follows:

1) Basic Pension – This benefit is also known as a death pension. It is for veterans and surviving spouses who are aged or disabled. The qualifying disability does not need to be related to their military service. On an annual basis, the Basic Pension pays:

– Veterans without spouses or children up to $16,073

– Veterans with dependent spouses or children up to $21,001

– Surviving spouses without dependent children up to $10,756

2) Aid & Attendance – Abbreviated as A&A, this is an important program for veterans and their surviving spouses who require assistance with activities of daily living. This means they need assistance with activities like bathing, dressing, and eating. A&A is particularly helpful for people with dementia, especially in the middle and later stages of the disease, when the need for more assistance becomes necessary. A&A is intended to help with the long-term care costs of adult day care, in-home care, assisted living, memory care, and skilled nursing. Based on an individual’s need and the progression of the disease, most of these additional services that support your loved one will become necessary. Annually, the A&A pays:

– Veterans without spouses or children a maximum of $26,751

– Veterans with dependent spouses or children a maximum of $31,713

– Surviving spouses without dependent children a maximum of $17,191

3) Housebound – For veterans and surviving spouses who are permanently disabled and unable to leave their homes, making them require additional assistance. The definition of “home” can include assisted living, memory care, and nursing home. The Housebound pension, like the A&A pension, is meant to help cover long-term care costs. Annually, the Housebound pays:

– Veterans without spouses or children a maximum of $19,598

– Veterans with dependent spouses or children a maximum of $24,562

– Surviving spouses without dependent children a maximum of $13,145

 Did You Know? More information on VA Pensions’ eligibility criteria, payment rates and the application process is available here.

 

Veterans’ Homes

There are also state Veterans homes. These are residential care facilities that provide long-term care for veterans. In addition to nursing home care, assisted living and memory care can also be provided. Payment is made directly from the VA to the facility. Arizona has two of these homes. Currently, there is a 200 bed facility in Phoenix and space for 142 patients in Tucson. Click here for more information.

 

Other Options

1) Elder care loans exist for families to cover the costs of moving into memory care while waiting for other financial resources to become available. For example, if one is waiting for a VA pension to be approved or waiting to sell a home. More on bridge loans for memory care.

2) 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 can include assisted living costs.

3) A reverse mortgage can be an option for a married person moving into memory care, if their spouse continues to live in the home. However, if the spouse moves from their home, the reverse mortgage becomes due.