top

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

Last Updated: November 13, 2022

 

Legal Definition of Assisted Living / Memory Care in Florida

In Florida, assisted living facilities provide a comfortable, homelike living setting for seniors and disabled individuals who require supervision and assistance to live independently. They provide room and board, assistance with activities of daily living like bathing, dressing, and mobility. Social activities, supervision, transportation assistance (either arranging or offering rides), and help with scheduling appointments are also provided. Some services may be provided at an additional cost above the regular monthly fee.

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

– having increased security and supervision
– requiring additional staff training
– requiring recreational activities specific for persons with dementia
– costing more (see below)

Memory care homes are not nursing homes. Generally, these residences are less expensive and offer a better quality of life to their residents. Some medical care may be provided, but not full-time-nursing care. All assisted living in Florida is regulated by the state’s Agency for Health Care Administration’s Bureau for Health Facility Regulation.

 

Florida Memory Care / Residential Alzheimer’s Care Costs

Given Florida’s large size, there is a considerable difference in cost statewide. On average, the cost for memory care is $7,362 per month. Even in the same geographic areas, the cost of memory care may go up or down by 20% depending on amenities and occupancy rate. To put it another way: Pensacola in the Panhandle costs about the same as Port St. Lucie in the Southeast, and Miami (the Keys) costs about the same as Tampa (West Peninsula). If cost is a concern, it can be worthwhile to visit and negotiate with multiple residences.

 There are close to 2,000 assisted living and board & care homes in Florida. Seniors and family members can receive free assistance researching residences that meet their needs and budgets. Get help here

The most expensive city for memory care in Florida is The Villages. It is an age-restricted community near the middle of the state that spans 30 square miles and has a population of more than 100,000. In The Villages, memory care costs about $6,294 monthly. The least expensive place for memory care is in Gainesville, for about $2,834 monthly.

If you live near Florida’s border with Alabama and Georgia both have on average less expensive memory care costs than Florida. Georgia costs $4,270 per month and Alabama memory care runs about $4,233 monthly. Mobile, Alabama, for instance, is about 60 miles from Pensacola, and memory care in Mobile is less expensive than Pensacola by more than $950 per month. Other major cities and average costs are:

Florida Memory Care / Assisted Living Costs (updated June 2022)
Region / City  Daily Cost Monthly Cost
Statewide $242 $7,362
Jacksonville $185 $5,632
Miami $174 $5,300
Tampa $133 $4,049
Orlando $160 $4,859
Port St. Lucie $150 $4,564
Cape Coral $172 $5,227
Tallahassee $185 $5,632

 

Assisted Living Laws & Regulations

 Covid 19-Related Measures (updated as of June 2022)
Residents – Their temperatures are checked and patients 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.

 

Admissions Requirements & Process

In Florida, in order to be admitted to an assisted living residence there are several requirements that must be met. They include:

-Not displaying symptoms of a contagious disease.
-Able to perform daily living activities (bathing, grooming, eating, etc.) with supervision or assistance.
-Able to take medication (with or without assistance).
-Not requiring around-the-clock care from a mental health professional
-Not being confined to bed.
-Not having pressure sores that are stage 3 or 4 in severity.
-Not needing assistance with feeding tubes or drainage tubes following surgery.

In addition, residents must undergo an initial physical exam by a doctor (or nurse practitioner) who works for the residence. The cost of this assessment should be included in the price of admission. However, it is possible you’ll need to use your own doctor for this assessment and need to cover the cost yourself. This timeframe for the initial exam is between 60 days prior to admission to 30 days after admittance. After the initial exam, a physical must be performed every 3 years to ensure residents continue to meet the requirements of assisted living facility residency in Florida.

In most cases, a family will spend several weeks deciding which assisted living residence is best for their loved one. Normally, families will then spend several more weeks getting them relocated and settled in. Many assisted living residences have waiting lists, and admission is not always immediate. Another reason to begin the process early is that dementia worsens over time, and you want as much input as possible from the person actually making the move before decision-making becomes affected.

 

Facility / Residence

In Florida, special care units for people with dementia must be physically constructed for their safety and wellbeing. One example is that memory care facilities might have an enclosed outdoor area to prevent wandering. In addition, activities specifically geared towards patients with dementia are required, as well as the availability of around the clock staff. Private resident bedrooms must be at least 80 square feet for one person or 60 square feet per person if there is more than one. Four is the maximum number of roommates allowed in one unit. There must be one toilet and sink for every six residents, and one bath or shower for every eight.

 

Staff & Training

Prior to employment, all staff must undergo a background investigation, including a fingerprint check by the FBI and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Training of staff varies depending on the position and what services are provided. All employees who have not completed core training must attend an orientation prior to interacting with residents. This training must be a minimum of 2 hours and cover topics that pertain to the needs and safety of the residents. All assisted living facilities must have an administrator who has taken a 26-hour training course that covers a variety of subjects, including dementia. Upon completion of the course, the individual must pass a test.

Employees working with Alzheimer’s patients in special care units must have dementia-appropriate training. Staff who have interaction daily with individuals with Alzheimer’s, but aren’t responsible for directly caring for them, must undergo 4 hours of dementia training in the first 3 months of being employed at the facility. Staff who directly care for persons with dementia must undergo 4 more hours of training within 9 months of being hired.

For assisted living residences that house a minimum of 17 residents, at least one staff member who is trained in CPR must be on duty at all times. If the assisted living facility offers administration of medications to its residents, an employee must be licensed to give it according to the physician’s order or the instructions on the medication’s label. Employees that aren’t licensed to give medications are still able to assist for self-administration of medications. However, some training is required in order to do so: an initial 6 hours of training on medication assistance and an additional 2 hours of training each year.

Florida uses a minimum staff-to-resident ratio staffing approach, which means the required number of staff hours is based on the number of residents in the facility. For instance, a facility with up to 5 residents must have a minimum of 168 staff hours per week, a facility with 26 to 35 residents must have at least 294 staff hours per week, and a facility with 56 to 65 residents must have a minimum of 416 staff hours per week.

 

Evictions

Regulations in Florida say that a person must be discharged or evicted if the residence can no longer meet their care needs. Because dementia is progressive, you need to be sure that the home is equipped to care for your loved one as the disease advances from early to middle and later stages.

There is no specific policy about the process for eviction. The residence will have its own policy. Can someone be evicted for nonpayment? Does aggressive behavior cause a person to be thrown out of a residence? These are important questions that should be answered before signing a contract to move in. For tips on evictions, including 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.

Statewide Medicaid Managed Care

Medicaid is a jointly funded federal and state program. The program that provides long-term care and support is the Statewide Medicaid Managed Care Long-Term Care Program. In addition to covering the cost of nursing home care, the long-term care program will cover the cost of supportive services in a variety of settings, such as one’s home, adult day care, adult foster care, and assisted living. To be clear, this program will not cover the cost of room and board in assisted living facilities but will offer assistance for care services. More on Florida Medicaid Eligibility.

 

Florida’s Optional State Supplementation

Florida’s optional state supplementation provides cash assistance to be applied towards the cost of room and board at an assisted living residence, adult foster care home, or a mental health treatment facility. Currently, the maximum cash assistance available for a single person is $ 239/month.

 

Alzheimer’s Disease Initiative (ADI)

In Florida, there is a program called the Alzheimer’s Disease Initiative. This program does not help pay for residential memory care, financial assistance may be provided to help care for a loved one with dementia. For example, respite care, both at home and in adult day care, is available to give caregivers a break from their caregiving duties.

 

Veteran’s 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 seven state veterans’ homes in Florida. They 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. The veterans’ homes are located in Lake City, Panama City, Port Charlotte, Daytona Beach, Land-O-Lakes, Pembroke Pines, and St. Augustine. Neighboring states have veterans’ homes, so a loved one might consider looking there for more options as there are no requirements that one must live in the state. For example, Alabama has 4 VA homes and Georgia has 2. There are a limited number of beds in these homes, so reach out about available space and waiting lists before visiting. For help finding the right veterans’ home for your loved one who served, contact the Florida Department of Elder Affairs. More info.

 

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.