In Mississippi regulations, communities that may house people with dementia in memory care units are called “personal care homes.” They are divided into two categories:
– Residential living: may not house people who are non-ambulatory, meaning they cannot evacuate on their own in an emergency
– Assisted living: 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. There are 30 personal care homes licensed to admit residents with dementia in the state. There are also many other options in the adjacent states. For free help finding the right memory care for your family’s needs and budget regardless of state, click here.
The average cost of memory care per month in Mississippi is $4,220, which breaks down to about $50,640 annually.
The state’s most expensive city for memory care is also its biggest: Jackson, for about $4,980 per month and $59,760 annually. Costs in coastal cities Gulfport and Hattiesburg are fairly close, at $4,360 and $4,290 respectively. Memory care is less expensive outside the larger cities; in rural areas, the average cost is about $3,560 per month and $42,720 annually.
Mississippi’s costs are below the national average for memory care of about $5,000 per month, and some of its neighbors are affordable as well. West of the delta, Arkansas is one of the country’s least expensive places for memory care, at about $3,780 per month on average. Also west, Louisiana costs are roughly equal to Mississippi’s, at $4,360 per month and $52,320 annually. And to the east, Alabama averages less than $4,000 for memory care, at about $3,890 per month. (Tuscaloosa, for example, is only an hour from eastern Mississippi and costs about $3,500 per month for memory care.) This means that while there are fewer memory care communities in Mississippi than other states, affordable options may still be available if you’re willing to cross the state’s borders.
Within 30 days prior to admission, every resident in Mississippi memory care must be assessed 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.
These assessments are usually performed by a medical professional who works for the residence. The cost may be included in the base rate, or the residence may charge a “community fee” that covers the assessment and other up-front details like deep cleaning the new resident’s room. Community fees usually run between $1,500 and $2,500. It is possible, but not typical, that an assessment will need to be performed by your loved one’s doctor at personal expense. When interviewing potential memory care homes to move into, ask exactly what the process is for assessment.
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
A person does not need to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s (or a related disease like vascular, frontotemporal, or Lewy body dementias) in order to be admitted into memory care in Mississippi. Dementia is difficult to diagnose, with symptoms that vary depending on the individual. It’s important to match your loved one with the home that best fits with their unique needs, not a specific disease.
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. Other design elements that are good for people with dementia are not required by regulations in Mississippi, unlike in other states, so you’ll want to thoroughly investigate the spaces to be sure your loved one will be comfortable there. Look for soft paint colors on the walls, easily navigated areas, and, for people with advanced dementia, hallways that run circular so your loved one can walk without encountering a dead end.
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.
A resident in Mississippi assisted living may be evicted or discharged if they develop any of the following medical issues:
– becomes non-ambulatory
– requires physical restraints
– becomes dangerous to self or others
– needs nasopharyngeal and/or tracheotomy suctioning
– needs intravenous fluids, medicine, or feeding
– needs an indwelling urinary catheter
– needs sterile wound care
– needs treatment for a decubitus ulcer or exfoliative dermatitis
If any of the above develop and the family, residence, and a licensed medical professional agree in writing that the community is able to handle it, an exception is possible.
Mississippi regulations do not specify how soon a person must leave after receiving an eviction notice. In other states, residents are typically given 30 days. For this reason, it’s important to be crystal clear on exactly what can get a person evicted, and how that process works, before agreeing to move in. Unfair evictions are a huge problem in assisted living, and getting a residence’s policy in writing (with as much specificity as possible) is a good way of being prepared. If you’ve received an eviction notice, click here for guidance on next steps.
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. (A&A is also called the “Enhanced Monthly Benefit” or “Income Improvement Pension.”) 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 Mississippi, which are residential care facilities that provide long-term care for veterans. They are located in Collins, in lower-central Mississippi; Jackson; Kosciusko, in the upper-central part of the state; and Oxford, in the northwest. 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. For more information, including contacts and paperwork for admissions, click here.
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.