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

Last Updated: December 07, 2020

 

In Louisiana regulations, the official term for assisted living for people with dementia is “Alzheimer’s Special Care Units” within an “Adult Residential Care Provider” (ARCP). This is more generally referred to as “memory care” or “Alzheimer’s care,” though these communities can also help people with related dementias including vascular, frontotemporal, and Lewy body dementias. ARCP services include lodging, housekeeping, meals, and help with activities of daily living (ADLs). These residences must also provide activities that encourage socialization, including taking residents out into the community when appropriate.

The Alzheimer’s Special Care Units go even further, either segregating or providing a special program for people with dementia. Enclosed outside areas are required, so residents can safely go out into the open air. There also may be special locks on doors, to prevent wandering. Special training is required for staff (see below).

There are about 70 memory care communities in the state and Louisiana residents can receive free assistance finding and reviewing residences that meet their needs and budget. Get help here. The Louisiana Department of Health, Health Standards Division, oversees assisted living in the state.

 Did You Know? Louisiana has one of the smallest populations of people over 65, yet the percentage of those folks with Alzheimer’s ranks among the highest of all states. About 14% of people over 65 in Louisiana have Alzheimer’s, the sixth most in the country; the national average is 12%.

 

How Much Does Memory Care Cost in Louisiana?

The average cost of memory care per month in Louisiana is $4,360, which breaks down to about $52,320 annually. The state’s most expensive place for memory care is also its biggest city: New Orleans special care units for people with dementia are about $5,630 per month and $67,520 annually. The least expensive city for memory care is Hammond, for about $3,600 monthly and $43,200 annually. In Baton Rouge, memory care costs about $3,960 per month and $47,520 annually. Other Louisiana cities with costs:

Louisiana Memory Care / Assisted Living Costs (updated Dec. 2020)
Region / City Monthly Cost Annual Cost
Statewide $4,360 $52,320
New Orleans $5,630 $67,560
Baton Rouge $3,960 $47,520
Shreveport $4,430 $53,160
Lafayette $4,360 $52,320
Lake Charles $4,180 $50,160
Hammond $3,600 $43,200

Though Louisiana is less expensive than the national average for memory care, residents there may still be able to find more affordable options in nearby states. If you live in the northern Sportsman’s Paradise, consider looking in Arkansas, where the average cost of memory care is $3,780 per month and $45,360 annually. Mississippi, one state east, is also less expensive than Louisiana on average, at about $4,220 monthly and $45,360 per year. Help is available in finding memory care residences even if those residences are out of state.

 

Louisiana Assisted Living Laws & Regulations

Admissions Process & Requirements

A pre-residency screening is required before someone can move into Adult Residential Care in Louisiana, including Alzheimer’s Special Care Units (also called “memory care”). The screening, or “level of care assessment,” is conducted by a medical professional working for the residence and must determine mental and physical health status, specifically:

– Need for personal assistance
– Need for assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs), like eating and dressing, and instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs), like managing money and cooking
– Ability to evacuate in the event of an emergency

The assessment might be free, but more often an assisted living community will charge a “community fee” that includes the assessment and other up-front costs like deep cleaning and painting your loved one’s room. (The community fee is usually between $1,500 and $2,000.)
The assessment is the most important step in the process of getting a personal care plan. Staff at the residence will use what they learn to make a unique care plan (also known as the “plan of care” or “service program”), which is a written document with details on specific personal and medical needs, as well as interests and appropriate social activities. It may be possible to move into memory care on short notice, but your loved one will still need to go through the process of assessment and care planning, and remember that it is always better to start looking for long-term care well before the move is necessary.

Unlike many other states, a diagnosis of dementia or probable dementia is required to move into memory care in Louisiana.
Assisted living homes must provide the following information to anyone considering living there:

– How to apply and reasons an application might be rejected
– Types of residents the home can serve (what level of care)
– Services offered and allowed
– Responsibilities of residents
– Smoking policy
– Pet policy
– All fees, including additional costs
– Criteria for eviction

Someone with the following issues may not be admitted into assisted living in Louisiana:

– Stage 3 or 4 pressure ulcers
– Nasogastric tubes
– Ventilator dependency
– Coma
– Continuous IV/TPN therapy
– Vacuum-assisted wound closure
– Tuberculosis
– Requiring physical or chemical restraints
– Anyone who is dangerous to themselves or others

Very basically, no assisted care residence in Louisiana may admit someone whose needs cannot be met there. A resident may, however, coordinate with the residence to receive appropriate third-party care from an outside doctor.

 Covid-19 Related Rules for Residences
During the pandemic, assisted living residences in Louisiana have been advised by the state to restrict visitors and update staff training, but there are not set mandates. Ask staff at your loved one’s community, or any community you are considering, about their specific protocols. For guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on preventing Covid-19 in assisted living, click here.

 

Facility / Residence

Bedrooms in Louisiana assisted living homes must be at least 100 square feet for a single occupant, and 170 square feet for two occupants. Louisiana has a Level 3 qualification for residences that offer independent apartments equipped with kitchenettes, and these must have a living area that’s at least 190 square feet. (Level 3 homes may not be good for someone with dementia, except in the earliest stages.) There must be at least one bathroom for every four residents. Grab bars and non-stick flooring must be installed in every shower and bath area.

A secure outdoor area is required for Louisiana assisted living, so residents can safely go outside. Unlike some states, however, there is not a requirement that building designs be dementia-friendly. This usually means hallways that run circular, so residents won’t encounter dead ends, and easily navigated layouts that reduce confusion. Be sure to inspect any home you are considering, with an eye on whether your loved one will be comfortable within the spaces.

 

Staff & Training

There is no staff-to-resident ratio in Louisiana, but assisted living homes are required to have the following: a director, a designated recreational/activity staff person, and a direct-care staff person. A director must meet qualifications including a college degree and at least three years of experience in a relevant field. Directors are also required to have 12 hours of training annually. Memory care staff dealing directly with residents must have eight hours of dementia-specific training within 90 days of hiring, and eight more hours annually. This is in addition to the requirements for all assisted-living staff in the state, including 12 hours of annual training on:

– Resident policies and procedures
– Emergency response and evacuation
– Residents’ rights
– Reporting abuse and critical incidents
– Infection control

 

Evictions / Discharges

While some states require 30 or 60 days notice before an eviction, as well as help from the evicting community with placement in a new residence, Louisiana does not have eviction rules in its assisted living regulations. Any potential resident, however, is entitled to a written policy from the home about how they decide to evict. This means every assisted living residence must have its own specific rules about discharges and evictions, and those rules must be explained to every resident. It is very important to ask for these rules, because unfair evictions are one of the biggest issues for families with a loved one in memory care. Be sure to ask for this document, and file it in case of an unexpected eviction or discharge.  For information on what to do if your loved one receives an eviction notice, click here.

 

Financial Assistance for Residential Alzheimer’s Memory Care

Community Choices Waiver

This Medicaid waiver replaced the Elderly and Disabled Adult Waiver, and is designed to keep people who need nursing-home-level care in their home of choice (which may include memory care) in order to lower costs. Community Choices provides financial assistance to cover healthcare needs including case management, healthcare equipment, therapies, and assistance with ADLs. A person must be eligible for Medicaid to apply. Keep in mind that there is a waiting list, and highest priority is given to applicants who have experienced abuse or neglect. For more information, click here. Read Louisiana Medicaid eligibility requirements or take a Medicaid eligibility pre-screen.

 

Long-Term Personal Care Service (LT-PCS)

Another Medicaid program for people who need nursing-home-level care but want to avoid the high cost of actually living in a nursing home, LT-PCS provides financial help to cover activities of daily living for adults with disabilities. Eating, bathing, dressing, and help getting to medical appointments are among the services this program covers. Applicants must already be enrolled in Louisiana Medicaid. Unlike the Community Choices Waiver detailed above, LT-PCS does not have a waiting list. To apply, contact your local Area Agency on Aging, or call Louisiana Options in Long Term Care at 1-877-456-1146. Read Louisiana Medicaid eligibility requirements or take a Medicaid eligibility pre-screen.

 

Permanent Supportive Housing

Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) in Louisiana is designed to offer low-rent living units providing limited healthcare services to low-income elderly people with mental disabilities, including disabilities developed due to aging. Applicants traditionally have had difficulty living successfully in a community. There may be a significant waiting list for services, and people who are homeless get priority. Download the application here. Contrary to it’s name PSH is probably not a permanent solution for persons with dementia.

 

Veterans Affairs (VA)

Veterans are statistically more likely to develop dementia. Relevant in all states including Louisiana 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 $14,924. Learn more here.

There are also five veterans’ homes in Louisiana, which are residential care facilities that provide long-term care for veterans. They are located in Reserve (a 40 minute drive up the river from New Orleans), Jackson (in Plantation Country), Monroe (Northern Louisiana), Bossier City (Shreveport), and Jennings (45 minutes west from Lafayette). In addition to nursing home care, assisted living and memory care are provided at each of these. 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 to see if your loved one is eligible to live there. For more information, including contacts and admissions documents, click here.

 

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.