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

Last Updated: October 13, 2020

 

Under Connecticut law, assisted living homes for people with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia are called “Alzheimer’s special care units” or “Alzheimer’s special care programs.” These residences are more commonly referred to as “memory care.” These homes provide full-time assistance for residents who can no longer live independently. For your loved one who has Alzheimer’s (or vascular dementia, frontotemporal dementia, Lewy body dementia, or another related disease), this means not just activities of daily living (ADLs) like eating and bathing, but also daily work with staff trained to manage difficulties with socialization, communication, aggression, and other important issues related to dementia.

Assistance with ADLs, regular meals, housekeeping, and more should all be considered standard for adults in assisted living. Connecticut is also one of the states where nursing services are provided in assisted living homes, meaning it’s possible to get medical care in addition to personal care. Someone in need of 24-hour-per-day nursing care, however, may not be admitted.

In order to be licensed as an Alzheimer’s special care unit, the residence must provide additional services. Anyone considering memory care in Connecticut is entitled to a disclosure document with the following information, including important details on how the residence will care for your loved one:

– Written statement of the residence’s overall philosophy and mission statement reflecting the needs of people with dementia
– The process of placement within, or transfer from, the unit
– The process for assessing a resident’s health needs
– The method for altering a health plan if conditions change
– Staff-to-patient ratios and staff training
– Physical space and design features appropriate for residents with dementia
– Types of activities offered, and how often
– Familial involvement and support programs
– Costs, including additional fees

If you’re looking for memory care in Connecticut, asking for the disclosure document and taking a tour should provide much of the information you’ll need to decide if the home is right for your family. You’ll also want to talk with other residents and staff, and spend some time watching how the guests live, including sharing a meal.

 There are over 130 memory care communities and an additional 110 board and care homes (with services like assisted living in a smaller house-like setting, including memory care in some cases). Free assistance is available in locating a memory care home to meet your needs and budget, start here.

 

 

How Much Does Memory Care Cost in Connecticut?

The average cost of memory care per month in Connecticut is $5,810, which breaks down to about $69,720 annually. The state’s most expensive place for memory care is also its largest city: In Bridgeport, memory care costs about $7,590 per month and $91,010 annually. The least costly place is also coastal: Connecticut’s second-largest city New Haven, where memory care costs average $4,470 per month or $53,640 annually. In the Naugatuck Valley, costs average around $6,000 per month and almost $73,000 annually.

Connecticut is one of the smallest states, and residents frequently commute across the border into New York and Massachusetts. If you reside in Connecticut, you might want to see what your options are in neighboring states, and there may be an opportunity for cost savings. New York state is more affordable for memory care, on average, at about $5,520 per month and $66,240 annually. Massachusetts’ state-wide averages are more than Connecticuts’ ($6,720 monthly and $80,640 annually), and Rhode Island is also more expensive ($6,210 monthly; 74,520 annually), but you still might be able to find less expensive options in those states because the costs of homes can vary so widely. You can also get free assistance finding affordable memory care in all states.

These are some notable Connecticut cities and their memory care costs:

Connecticut Memory Care / Assisted Living Costs (updated Oct. 2020)
Region / City Monthly Cost Annual Cost
Statewide $5,810 $69,720
Bridgeport $7,590 $91,080
New Haven $4,470 $53,640
Hartford $5,560 $66,720
Norwich $5,090 $61,080
Rest of State $6,070 $72,840


 Did You Know? About 13.5% of people over 65 in Connecticut have Alzheimer’s’ disease, one of the highest averages in the country.

 

Connecticut Assisted Living Laws & Regulations

Admissions Process & Requirements

New residents must be assessed within seven days of moving in, to establish a plan called a “client services program” (completed by a registered nurse) that outlines healthcare needs and specific services that the unit will provide your loved one. An example would be determining exactly which activities of daily living, like eating, the staff will need to assist with. The services program must be reviewed as often as necessary, or at least every four months (120 days), and include the following:

– Medical issues and needs
– Services and equipment required
– Medications
– Treatments

Because it’s part of moving in, the cost of being assessed might be part of the residence’s basic rate, though there may be an “assessment fee” or “community fee” charged upon move-in that covers the assessment and any other up-front details including the development of the personal services plan and getting the apartment, or living unit, ready. If there is an assessment fee, it’s usually equal to about one-half month’s rent, though it could be as much as two months’ rent. Many memory care homes offer the assessment as one of their services provided to every new resident, making the process of being assessed easier for a family who feels like they’ve found the perfect community for their loved one.

You do not need an official diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease (or related dementia like vascular, Lewy body, or frontotemporal dementias) to move into Connecticut memory care. Dementia is difficult to diagnose, with dementias often confused for each other, and the symptoms themselves are more important than the disease.

Remember that assisted living homes in the state are required to provide a disclosure that includes all charges, including any additional fees beyond the base rates. File this document as protection against unexpected costs. The disclosure must also list every reason for a discharge or eviction, including whether your loved one can be kicked out of memory care for non-payment. (Connecticut regulations do not have standard rules for evictions.)

 Covid 19-Related Admissions Rules
New residents should have a “risk assessment” for Covid-19 during admissions. Connecticut’s Department of Public Health has recommended that new residents who have not taken extra precautions during the pandemic, including social distancing and wearing masks, be placed in a single room for 14 days of quarantine before admittance.

 

Facility / Residence

Unlike many other states, Connecticut does not have square footage requirements for bedrooms. Regulations simply state that residents have access to a full bathroom and a place for the preparation and storage of food. There must also be a common living area big enough to accommodate half of all the residents at any given time. There is no maximum number of people per room, though residents must agree to be roommates before they’re put together.

Among the requirements that distinguish memory care from regular assisted living is the rule that memory care buildings have “physical environment and design features appropriate to support the functioning of cognitively impaired adult residents.” Building layouts, in other words, must be dementia-friendly, meaning the hallways are easy to navigate and don’t run into dead ends, and outdoor areas are offered for exercise but also carefully monitored to prevent wandering.

 Covid 19-Related Visitor Rules
During the pandemic, new rules are in place to visit loved ones in memory care. Visitors should wear masks and maintain social distance (six feet or more) and must be confined to residents’ rooms or a designated visitor area.

 

Staff & Training

Ten-hour orientation is required for new employees in all assisted living homes in Connecticut, covering topics including regulations, policies on handling emergencies, and organizational structure. Anyone working directly with residents must have completed adequate training and passed a competency exam.

Alzheimer’s special care units in Connecticut are required to provide annual training that specifically addresses how to serve people with dementia. Six hours of dementia-specific training is required within six months of beginning employment, and then eight more hours of training is required annually. Additionally, two hours of training is required every year for pain recognition and pain management techniques. A registered nurse must be on call 24 hours per day.

There are no staff-to-resident ratios, but a supervisor must be appointed at all residences to oversee staff and make sure services are adequate to meet the needs of every resident. The supervisor must be a registered nurse with adequate experience.

 Covid 19-Related Rules for Staff
During the pandemic, the state’s Department of Public Health has said employees in assisted living should not work at multiple residences, should be tested regularly, and be trained in the correct usage of personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks.

 

Financial Assistance for Residential Alzheimer’s Memory Care

Connecticut Home Care Program for Elders (CHCPE)

The goal of this Connecticut Medicaid program is to keep seniors in their homes or assisted living communities rather than moving into a more expensive nursing home. For certain low-income people it may cover the complete cost of assisted living. Recipients must demonstrate a need for assistance with multiple activities of daily living. There are two sets of eligibility criteria: state-funded or Medicaid waiver. State-funded applicants must demonstrate assets under around $38,500 for an individual or $51,500 for a married couple. To receive CHCPE through the Medicaid waiver, a person must apply for Medicaid, which includes eligibility requirements like monthly income under $2,349 for an individual. More information on CT Medicaid eligibility criteria and more information on the program. Take an online Medicaid eligibility test and if eligible, one can apply online or in person at your local Department of Social Services field office.

 

Congregate Housing Services Program (CHSP)

This program offers heavily subsidized housing with medical services for older adults in more than a dozen locations throughout the state. The CHSP homes are mostly located in rural areas of eastern and western CT. Funding is provided through the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Participants must be at least 62 and in need of help with at least three ADLs. Monthly income and assets are not a factor in eligibility, and priority is given to people with the greatest medical need. Participants are expected to pay between 10 and 25 percent of room, board, and care costs. Memory care communities typically provide a higher level of care, so CHSP may be best for people in the early stages of dementia. For more information, click here. To apply, contact your local office for the Department of Aging and Disability Services.

 

Veterans Affairs (VA)

Veterans are statistically more likely to develop dementia. Relevant in all states including Connecticut 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.

 Did You Know? As few as one out of every seven veterans who are eligible for Aid & Attendance money have applied to receive it.

There is one veterans’ home in Connecticut, which is a residential care facility that provides long-term care for veterans. Located in Rocky Hill (Hartford County), the Sgt. John L. Levitow Veteran’s Health Center offers long-term care for elderly veterans with medical conditions including dementia. 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 may be a waiting list, contact a home before visiting to see if your loved one is eligible to live there. As of this writing (October 2020) there were rooms available.

 

Other Options

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.