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Arkansas Residential Alzheimer’s Care (Memory Care): Laws, Costs & Financial Help

Last Updated: November 13, 2022

 

In Arkansas, an assisted living home for people with dementia is an assisted living facility with an Alzheimer’s Special Care Unit. These residences offer room and board with special services specifically for people with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. There are approximately 25 of these residences in Arkansas that offer two levels of care.

Staff at these communities must be able to assist residents with:
-Activities of daily living
-Social and recreational activities
-Transportation to appointments
-Housekeeping services
-Three meals per day
-Assistance with medication

Arkansas has Level 2 Alzheimer’s Special Care Units which offer the same services but have registered nurses on staff to provide more specialized healthcare. Level 2 is generally a better choice for people in later stages of dementia or who have other medical issues.

Assisted living in Arkansas is regulated by the Department of Human Services, Office of Long-Term Care.

  Did You Know? Arkansans can get free assistance to locate a memory care home for their loved ones’ needs and budgets. Get help here.

 

How Much Does Memory Care Cost in Arkansas?

In 2022, the average cost of memory care in Arkansas is $4,564 per month.

Arkansas is one of the least expensive states in the country for memory care. Residents may still be able to find a lower-cost alternative nearby: Missouri costs even less. Missouri memory care averages about $3,644 monthly. That means someone living in Rogers, Fayetteville, Harrison, or another northern Missouri town may be able to find a better price across the state border. People who live in the upper and lower deltas may be interested in searching for assisted living options across the river in Mississippi, where the average cost of memory care is $4,233 per month.

Arkansas’s most expensive city for memory care is Little Rock, costing $5,448 per month. In comparison, the least expensive is to the south in Pine Bluff where care costs $4,012 monthly.

Arkansas Memory Care / Assisted Living Costs (updated June 2022)
Region / City Daily Cost Monthly Cost
Statewide $150 $4,564
Little Rock $179 $5,448
Jonesboro $145 $4,417
Fort Smith $154 $4,675
Pine Bluff $132 $4,012

 

Arkansas Assisted Living Laws & Regulations

Admissions Requirements and Process

 Covid-19 Related Vaccine, Testing & Mask Requirements as of June 2022:
-Staff and visitors get temperature checked when entering the facility.
-There are no mask mandates even though the Department of Public Health recommends them, it is up to each business if they want to require them.
-State law prevents having to show proof of vaccination.

Assisted living communities must perform an initial evaluation of every resident before they move in. This means assessing personal and health requirements in order to make an individualized plan. The cost of this assessment should not be extra; it’s part of moving in. Your loved one should have a less-formal screening to begin this process. Normally this is done to get a general idea of whether the community is a good fit.

A person could move into memory care, also called Alzheimer’s care units, on somewhat short notice. A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or related illness is not necessarily required, as long as the evaluation has determined that your loved one has needs that can be met by the staff at the residence.

Assisted living with memory care residences may not admit someone with the following conditions:

– Needs 24-hour nursing services
– Is bedridden
– Needs help moving from room to room beyond what the residence can provide
– Is dangerous to self or others
– Requires help with medication administration (except in Level 2 residences)

Alzheimer’s Special Care Units must provide a prepared statement to anyone considering living there that explains the process for assessment, forms of care, treatments and related services that are suitable for people with dementia. Additionally, a written breakdown of all costs will be given. You’ll want to file this document in case there are disputes later over care or prices.

 

Facility / Residence

Every apartment or living unit must be at least 150 square feet for one person and 230 square feet for two people (excluding closets and bathrooms). The maximum number of people in a living unit is two, and they must consent to being roommates. Every living unit needs a toilet, sink, and shower or bathtub.

There are best practices about the physical design of Alzheimer’s care units (though not required). For people with dementia, a residence should be built with extra supervision and security to make sure wandering is not a problem. Also, hallways should run circular because dead ends can be upsetting for someone who has dementia. Outdoor spaces have also been shown to help with symptoms.

 

Staff & Training

All staff in an Alzheimer’s special care unit must receive eight hours of training per month in the first five months of hiring, on the following:

– Facility policies
– Causes, philosophy, and treatment of dementia
– Stages of Alzheimer’s disease
– Managing behavior
– Wandering control
– Medication management
– Communication techniques
– Prevention of staff burnout
– Activities programming
– Activities of daily living
– Individual-centered care
– Making assessments
– Creating individual support plans

Additionally, at least two hours of in-service training is required every three months.

There is no staff-to-resident ratio in Level 1 residences, except to say staff must be adequate to meet the needs of every resident at all times. Level 2 residences must have a staffing ratio of one person on-duty for every 15 residents during daytime hours (7 a.m. to 8 p.m.) and one staffer for every 25 residents during the nighttime hours. There may never be fewer than two people on duty at a time.

 

Evictions

Unlike other states, Arkansas does not have regulations saying a person needs 30 days notice to be evicted from assisted living. This means it’s possible your loved one could be evicted unexpectedly. You’ll want to take steps when moving in to make sure the eviction policy is understood clearly. It is not against regulations to evict someone for not paying bills on time, for instance. Click here for more.

Generally, it is considered that a person whose behavior becomes dangerous to themselves or others cannot continue living in assisted living. Someone may also be told to move out if they have personal or health needs that cannot be met there. Because dementia is progressive, it is possible that a home could be a good fit in the earlier stages of the disease and then no longer be appropriate in the middle and later stages.

 

Financial Assistance for Residential Alzheimer’s Memory Care

Living Choices Assisted Living Waiver

The Arkansas Medicaid Living Choices Assisted Living Waiver helps Medicaid recipients cover the costs of care in assisted living and is meant to help someone stay in assisted living when their needs become more acute, rather than moving into a more expensive nursing home. Services, like housekeeping and help with activities of daily living, are paid for by the program, while room and board is not covered. Applicants must be Medicaid-eligible, including monthly income that does not exceed $ 2,742 (as of 2023). Take a Medicaid eligibility test here. More information is available in a downloadable pamphlet here.

 

Personal Care Program

Offered through Arkansas Medicaid, Personal Care covers the costs of assistance with activities of daily living from professional caregivers, including in memory care so long as the memory care community is enrolled to receive these benefits from the state. Recipients and their caregivers are supposed to self-direct care through this program, deciding which services they’ll receive based on the funds provided. Recipients must be Medicaid-eligible. To apply, contact your local Department of Human Services office.

 

Independent Choices

The Arkansas Independent Choices (IC) program provides a monthly cash allowance to spend on care. The funds are meant to help someone with a debilitating medical condition (like dementia) avoid moving into more expensive full-time nursing care. Benefits are intended to cover help with activities of daily living and medical devices, like remote monitoring, that make someone healthier or safer. More information, including contact information to apply, is available on the ARChoices Medicaid website. Program enrollees must be Medicaid eligible, see Arkansas Medicaid eligibility guidelines by clicking 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

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

Veterans’ Homes

There are two veterans’ homes in Arkansas. They are residential care facilities that provide long-term care for veterans. These are located in Fayetteville and North Little Rock. Arkansans who live in the northern part of the state might note that there are seven VA homes in Missouri. It might be a good idea to go out-of-state if you can’t find a space where you live. More information here.

 

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.