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

Last Updated: November 25, 2020


Assisted living communities in Kentucky provide a home for people who cannot live independently, with services including the following:

– Help with activities of daily living (ADLs), like eating and bathing, and instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs) like money management and housekeeping
– Three meals and a snack daily
– Scheduled social activities daily
– Assistance with self-administering medication

Dementia-specific assisted living (often called “memory care” or “Alzheimer’s care”) is considered special programming by the state. These residences require additional training for staff (see below), as well as programs and activities that are specifically for people with Alzheimer’s or another related disease like vascular, frontotemporal, or Lewy body dementia. A list of the features and resources that make the residence appropriate for people with dementia must be provided to anyone interested.

There are 75 assisted living homes with memory care in Kentucky. There are also 36 board and care homes, which are smaller house-like communities that offer the same services as regular assisted living, including memory care in some cases. For free help finding memory care to meet your family’s needs and budget, click here.

The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Human Services, Department for Aging and Independent Living, oversees assisted living in the state.

 Did You Know? About 11% of people over 65 in Kentucky have Alzheimer’s disease, one of the lowest rates in the country. That’s still about 75,000 people, with the number of Kentuckians with Alzheimer’s expected to increase to about 86,000 by 2025.


How Much Does Memory Care Cost in Kentucky?

The average cost of memory care per month in Kentucky is $4,180, which breaks down to about $50,160 annually. The Bluegrass State’s most expensive place for memory care is Lexington, where memory care costs about $5,120 per month and $61,440 annually.

The least expensive city for memory care is Owensboro, in the western coal field, for about $2,580 monthly and $30,960 annually. The largest city in Kentucky is Louisville, where memory care costs about $4,870 per month and $50,160 annually.

Kentucky’s memory care costs are below the national average, but it still may be possible to find more affordable long-term care in nearby states. For example, while Tennessee’s overall costs are higher ($4,650 per month on average), the northern Tennessee city Clarksville costs about $3,960 per month compared to the southern Kentucky city of Bowling Green ($4,290). If you live in Kentucky and are looking for affordable memory care, in other words, consider going across the state border. Kentucky cities with average memory care costs:

Kentucky Memory Care / Assisted Living Costs (updated Nov. 2020)
Region / City Monthly Cost Annual Cost
Statewide $4,180 $50,160
Louisville $4,870 $58,440
Lexington $5,120 $61,440
Bowling Green $4,290 $51,480
Owensboro $2,580 $30,960

  In Kentucky, free assistance is available to help families locate a memory care home to meet their needs and budgets. Get help here


Kentucky Assisted Living Laws & Regulations

Admissions Requirements & Process

To be admitted to an assisted living residence in Kentucky, individuals must be ambulatory or mobile non-ambulatory, meaning they must be able to get from room to room by themselves, unless afflicted with some temporary condition. A resident may not be admitted who poses a danger to self or others.
A functional needs assessment is required for all memory care residents before they move in, and then once a year afterward. The assessment determines the new resident’s physical and mental abilities, and exactly which activities of daily living and instrumental activities of daily living they need help with. A personalized service plan that lists these personal and medical needs must be created within 21 days of moving in.

There is no standardized form for this assessment and formulation of a care plan, but it’s important that a facility be certain it can meet someone’s particular needs, especially in memory care where residents require more acute care. These assessments are conducted at the residence by a healthcare professional. The cost of being assessed may be included with the base rate agreed to in the contract, or it might be covered by a “community” or “move-in” fee that covers up-front expenses including other things like painting and deep-cleaning your loved one’s new living unit or apartment. There is not a standard statewide policy for assessments, though, so be very clear on procedure and costs before signing a contract.

It is possible to move into assisted living in Kentucky on short notice, but this is not a good idea. Finding the right memory care community for your loved one is so important that you should investigate as many potential homes as possible before making a decision. Also, your loved one will have more input into the decision the earlier you start looking.

A diagnosis of dementia is not required to move into Kentucky memory care. Dementias are difficult to diagnose, and symptoms vary widely.

Unlike in many other states, Kentucky regulations do not require a disclosure of costs, including additional costs, to potential residents, so be sure you specifically ask for a full accounting of all possible charges to avoid surprises with billing.

 Covid 19-Related Rules for Admittance
During the pandemic, any new resident in assisted living, including assisted living with memory care, should be quarantined for 14 days in an area separate from other residents, even if the person moving in tested negative for the Covid-19 virus.


Facility / Residence

Rooms for residents in assisted living must be at least 200 square feet for one or two people. The maximum number of people allowed in one room is two, if roommates have agreed to live together. Every bedroom has a private bathroom with a tub or shower. All building codes must be followed, with annual inspections by fire marshals and health inspectors.

Unlike other states, Kentucky regulations do not expressly require building designs for memory care homes to be dementia-friendly. People with dementia have an easier time living in areas where the hallways run circular so there are no dead ends, and where the spaces are easy to navigate. Secure outdoor areas have also been shown to be beneficial. Make sure you inspect any home you are considering, with an eye on whether or not your loved one with dementia will be comfortable there.

 Covid 19-Related Rules for Visitations
During the pandemic, outdoor visitations are allowed in Kentucky memory care communities if visitors are screened for symptoms of Covid-19, and if they wear masks and maintain social (six feet) distance.
Indoor visits are allowed, with masks and social distancing, if there have been no cases of the virus there in 14 days, and if the residence is not in a “Red” county according to Kentucky’s Incidence Rate Map (click here).


Staff & Training

There are not staffing ratios in Kentucky, except to say there must at all times be adequate staff to meet the needs of every resident. There must be at least one awake staff person 24 hours per day. Managers must be at least 21 years old, have passed a background check, and be able to demonstrate managerial and administrative abilities. All employees, including managers, must have an orientation upon hiring, and continuing education annually. Memory care must provide all residents (or potential residents) with a specific list that details the kinds of training, the number of hours of training, the schedule for training, and which members of staff complete the training to care for people with problems particular to dementia.

 Covid 19-Related Rules for Training Staff
During the pandemic, staff in Kentucky assisted living, and assisted living with memory care, should be trained on the following:

– Recognizing symptoms of Covid-19
– Putting on and taking off personal protective equipment (PPE)
– Proper handwashing and use of sanitizer
– Infection control precautions



Unlike many other states, Kentucky assisted living homes (including those with memory care) must assist someone who has been evicted with finding a new place to live. Regulations say that if your loved one receives a notice to move out (30 days’ notice is standard), the residence must have a plan for finding a new residence before the move-out date.

There is not a set list of reasons someone can be evicted from memory care in Kentucky, except “clients must not be a danger to themselves or others.” Every residence should have its own eviction policy, however, so be sure to ask for this in writing before agreeing to a move-in contract. Having the eviction policy in writing can work like protection against an unexpected or unfair eviction notice.

For more on what to do if your loved one is asked to leave memory care, click here. There are several steps you can take, and moving out may not actually be required.


Financial Assistance for Residential Alzheimer’s Memory Care

HCBS Medicaid Waivers Program

Kentucky’s Home and Community Based Services Medicaid Waiver is for people who may need nursing-home care but wish to remain in their houses or assisted living communities. The services covered cannot include room and board, but assistance with ADLs, case management, and transportation are among the benefits. Recipients must be financially qualified for Medicaid, including monthly income under $2,349 in 2020. More information is available on the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Human Services website. To apply, contact your local HHS office through this website. Read about Kentucky Medicaid eligibility requirements or take a Medicaid eligibility test


Veterans Affairs (VA)

Veterans are statistically more likely to develop dementia. Relevant in all states including Kentucky 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 (2021) maximum amount a veteran can receive through A&A is $27,540 per year, and surviving spouses can receive as much as $14,928. Learn more here.

There are also four veterans’ homes in Kentucky, which are residential care facilities that provide long-term care for veterans. They are:
Western Kentucky Veterans Center in Hanson (off I-69)
Thomson-Hood Veterans Center in Wilmore (30 minutes south of Lexington)
Eastern Kentucky Veterans Center in Hazard (Eastern coal fields)
Radcliff Veterans Center in Radcliff (south of Louisville and Fort Knox)

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 is often a waiting list, contact a home before visiting (click the links provided above) to see if your loved one is eligible to live there.


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.