The two types of communities in Mississippi that may house people with dementia in memory care units are called “assisted living” and “residential living.” The difference is that residential living may not house people who are non-ambulatory, or cannot evacuate on their own in an emergency. Assisted living homes may admit non-ambulatory residents who have advanced dementia, so long as the home can adequately care for the person based on a medical assessment (see Admissions below).
All assisted and residential living homes provide room and board, food, and laundry and housekeeping services, as well as assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) like eating and dressing.
Memory care in Mississippi is regulated by the state’s Department of Health.
The average cost of memory care per month in Mississippi is $4,627, which breaks down to about $152 per day and $55,524 annually. Mississippi regulations say new residents must receive a full description of fees and charges, including all costs for optional services. Assisted living, without the additional services required for memory care, costs Mississippi residents about $3,536 per month and $42,432 annually.
The state’s most expensive city for memory care is also its biggest: Jackson, for about $5,464 per month and $65,568 annually. Memory care is less expensive outside the larger cities. In rural areas, the average cost is about $3,909 per month and $46,908 annually.
Within 30 days prior to admission, every resident in Mississippi memory care must be evaluated medically to determine whether the fit is appropriate, because these communities may not admit someone whose needs cannot be met there. Medical evaluations must then be performed annually.
Admissions agreements must be provided to every resident, and include the following information:
– Agreed-upon charges, and period covered
– Services that might result in additional costs
– Refund policy
– Promise to make timely notifications of any changes in status
Someone with the following issues may not be admitted to an assisted living home in Mississippi:
– Is non-ambulatory, or cannot move without assistance
– Requires physical restraints
– Threatens safety of self or others
– Requires feeding tubes or IV fluids
Private and shared living units must be at least 80 square feet. Every floor needs a bathroom for both genders, with a bathtub or shower for every 12 residents and a toilet and sink for every six residents. Any residence housing people with dementia must have security controls on all entrances and exits (in case of wandering) and a secure outdoor exercise pathway.
A nurse must be present at all times, and two other staffers must also always be on duty. Three hours of nursing care is required to be available to every resident per 24 hours. Also, a licensed social worker, professional counselor, or therapist must be available at least eight hours every month to provide services to residents with dementia and their families. Orientation for new employees must be dementia-specific. In-service training must be held at least quarterly. Staffing ratios are as follows:
– Between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., there must be one direct-care staffer for every 15 or fewer residents.
– Between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m., there must be one direct-care staffer for every 25 or fewer residents.
The Assisted Living Waiver is a Medicaid Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) waiver program to help low-income people cover the costs of services in memory care. Medicaid cannot pay for room and board, but the AL waiver can pay for assistance with activities of daily living, as well as therapies, case management, transportation to appointments, and more. Be aware that there may be a waiting list. Because it is a Medicaid program, Medicaid eligibility requirements apply. For more information, click here. To apply, contact your local Area Agency on Aging.
Veterans are statistically more likely to develop dementia. Relevant in all states including Mississippi 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.
There are also veterans’ homes in Mississippi, which 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. 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.
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.