In Georgia, two types of residences can provide memory care for your loved one with dementia. These are assisted living communities and personal care homes (PCH).
Regulations are more restrictive for assisted living than PCH. Personal care homes tend to be much smaller, but either can serve the full-time needs of people with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia. Both types of residences provide housing, food, and care services 24 hours per day. Personal care homes have a minimum of two (unrelated) residents and assisted living communities care for a minimum of 25 people. Assisted living facilities also provide more specialized services like help taking medications and other activities of daily living.
Residents of either type of home must be capable of moving from place to place and not require continuous nursing care, or physical or chemical restraints. Some medical care may be provided at a Georgia memory care community, and residents are allowed to contract with outside healthcare providers if those services are required. Assisted living and personal care residences are not allowed to admit anyone who needs to be isolated or confined because of behavioral problems.
There are more than 370 assisted living communities with memory care in Georgia. There are also around 100 personal care homes. Georgia’s Department of Community Health’s Healthcare Facility Regulation Division oversees these residences. For free help finding a memory care home to meet your family’s needs and budget, click here.
The average cost of memory care per month in Georgia is $4,270. The most expensive place for memory care in Georgia is Brunswick in the lower coastal plain, running $6,405 monthly. The most affordable is Warner Robins, for $3,313 per month. In Atlanta, memory care costs $4,638.
Georgians who want to fully explore their best memory care options might consider looking outside the state. Neighboring states Florida, Alabama, and South Carolina all have similar average costs ranging from $4,233 to $4,859 monthly. Residents on the coastal plain might look in Florida, and people living at either side of the Georgia Piedmont might be able to find more affordable options in South Carolina or, particularly, Alabama. Other notable cities in Georgia are:
|Georgia Memory Care / Assisted Living Costs (updated July 2022)|
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To be admitted to a memory care residence, a person must be able to move from place to place and not require full-time nursing care. The capabilities of your loved one must be fully assessed by a physical examination within 30 days prior to moving in. For memory care, this examination must determine that the person exhibits symptoms of dementia and placement in a specialized care home is necessary. In other words, a diagnosis of probable Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia is required to move into Georgia memory care. The assessment is often performed by a medical professional at the residence itself, and the cost of being assessed should be included in the base rate. There may be a separate community or move-in fees that cover up-front expenses like the assessment, cleaning and painting your loved one’s new bedroom.
A post-admission assessment is also required, to determine familial support, ability to perform activities of daily living, physical care needs, and any behavior impairments. This post-admission assessment is performed by residence staff, and should not cost extra. In assisted living communities, an assessment must happen within 14 days of admission and an individual care plan must be created. This plan is to be updated annually, or whenever the resident has a dramatic health change.
It is possible to find a memory care home on short notice in Georgia, but it’s not a good idea because of the importance of finding the right fit. You’ll want to begin planning early, well before the move is necessary. Not only will you be able to compare options and make the best choice, but starting early also gives your loved one with dementia more input. Alzheimer’s and related diseases are progressive, meaning they get worse until someone can no longer make decisions. Your family should decide on living options before the middle and later stages, when decision-making is compromised.
In both assisted living facilities and personal care homes, bedrooms must be at least 80 square feet per resident. Two residents per bedroom is the maximum allowed. Assisted living communities are also required to have handrails, doorways, and corridors that accommodate mobility devices. Memory care residences in Georgia must protect patient safety. This is done by counteracting wandering through installing safety devices on doors and having updated photographs of every resident in case of escape.
All staff who work in memory care residences must be trained on policies and procedures to deal with behaviors particular to dementia, like wandering. Memory care residences must have a stated philosophy on care for residents that incorporates:
– How to handle behavioral problems,
– Management techniques,
– Communication skills,
– Therapeutic activities,
– The family’s role,
– Understanding and adhering to service plans,
– Recognizing changes in behavior that require medical attention, and
– Keeping people with dementia safe.
Staff must be trained on this philosophy, and must also be up-to-date on new developments in diagnosis and therapy. Eight hours of specifically dementia-care continuing education is required annually.
These residences must have at least one administrator or manager on-site 24 hours per day. That person must be at least 21 years old. Georgia staffing ratio in both assisted living communities and personal care homes who serve patients with dementia must have one employee for every 12 residents during the day. One for every 15 patients at night, during sleeping hours is also required. There is also a general rule in regulations that staffing be adequate to meet all residents’ needs at all times. Assisted living communities must maintain written staffing plans that include the specific needs of residents.
Anyone working in either type of home must have Department of Community Health-approved work-related training within 60 days of beginning the job. Training must include:
– First aid
– Emergency procedures
– Medical and social needs of the residents
– Residents’ rights
– Reporting abuse
– Infection control
– Fire safety
Staff who work directly with residents must complete a total of 24 hours of continuing education within the first year of employment, and 16 hours each year after.
Georgia regulations do not have rules about the process for evictions or discharge, except to say that someone may not live in a residence that cannot meet their needs. This means that if your loved one’s dementia worsens to a point that staff doesn’t know how to handle it, an eviction is allowed. Because dementia is progressive, however, worsening symptoms should be considered during move-in, and new care needs should be anticipated.
Whether you can be evicted for nonpayment in Georgia, or for aggressive behavior or other issues, is up to the specific residence. You’ll want to be very clear on the policy for eviction, asking exactly what it would take for your loved one to be asked to leave, before signing a contract. For more on memory care evictions, including what to do if you receive an eviction notice, click here.
Operated under the Elderly and Disabled Waiver, Georgia Medicaid’s Community Care Services Program is designed to help older adults remain in their own houses or state-licensed personal care homes instead of transferring into nursing homes. The program pays for services (rather than room and board) for people who qualify for Georgia Medicaid. This means that, among other criteria, an individual’s monthly income must be less than $2,742 in 2023 and they must have limited assets. A Medicaid eligibility test is available here. More information is available on this downloadable fact sheet.
This Medicaid waiver is for people who need nursing-home-level care but want to remain in their own houses or personal care homes. For low-income Georgians, the SOURCE waiver provides funding for both medical and non-medical care services, except for room and board costs. Recipients must qualify for Georgian Medicaid and require nursing-home-level care. For a fact sheet on SOURCE, click here. To apply, call the Home and Community Based Services toll-free number: 1866-552-4464, or the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services. A waiting list may exist, and the typical enrollment time is two months. Determine if your loved one is eligible for Medicaid.
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.
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
There are two veterans’ homes in Georgia. One is in Augusta and the other is in Milledgeville (northeast of Macon). Veterans homes are residential care facilities that provide long-term care for veterans. In addition to nursing home care and assisted living, memory care is also provided. Neighboring states have more 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, Florida has more than three times as many VA homes coming in at seven statewide and several are located relatively close to their shared border. More info.
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.