New Jersey regulations distinguish between assisted living residences and comprehensive personal care homes, but both are generally considered “assisted living,” where personal and healthcare services are provided 24 hours per day to people with special needs. Assisted living residences tend to be apartment-style, where everyone has a bedroom unit with a private bathroom and kitchenette. All assisted living residences must have a system of support including health and personal care, but also dining and stimulating activities. They must also be able to provide nursing services for residents who need nursing-home-level care.
Assisted living for people who have Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia is often called memory care, and these communities are required to have written policies and procedures that take into account the specific needs of people with dementia. Additionally, staff must have specialized training and the facility must provide caregivers a list of activities that specifically benefit residents with dementia. (More on regulations below.)
People who require specialized long-term care, like respirators or ventilators, or people with severe behavior management problems, cannot be admitted. An assisted living residence may not admit someone whose needs are greater than the scope of services provided.
Assisted living residences and comprehensive personal care homes are regulated under the New Jersey Department of Health’s Division of Health Facilities Evaluation and Licensing.
The average cost of memory care per month in New Jersey is $8,376, which breaks down to about $275 per day and $100,512 annually. This is more than most neighboring states. Assisted living, without memory care, generally costs people in New Jersey $6,401 per month and $76,812 annually. The most expensive place for memory care is Trenton, which costs about $8,854 per month and $106,248 annually. The cheapest is Vineland, for $6,023 per month and roughly $72,276 annually.
Two assessments are required after admission: the first is a general assessment to determine specific medical needs; the second is a more comprehensive healthcare assessment by a registered professional nurse. The assessments are required within 14 days of admission. Then a service plan is created, with a program for meeting the new resident’s needs.
Among the documents all new residents are entitled to in New Jersey assisted living homes are a statement of resident’s rights and the home’s policies on Medicaid (for more on Medicaid, see below).
Someone cannot live in New Jersey memory care homes who requires specialized full-time care such as respirators or ventilators.
Because it can take months between picking a residence and actually moving in, you’ll want to begin the process as soon as possible. Your loved one will also be able to provide more input the sooner you start scouting locations.
Bedrooms in New Jersey assisted living must have at least 150 square feet of floor space for one resident, and 230 square feet of space in a room for two residents. Two is the maximum number of people allowed per bedroom. Every bedroom (or living unit) needs to have a bathroom with a sink, toilet, and shower and bath. Additional bathrooms with toilets must be provided elsewhere. Smoke detectors are required in all bedrooms, living rooms, and common areas, with an automatic fire suppression system throughout the building.
An administrator or designated alternative must be on-site at all times in facilities with 60 or more beds, and half-time in facilities with less than 60 beds. At least one awake personal care employee and another awake employee are required at all times, and a registered nurse must also be available 24 hours per day.
Administrators must be at least 21 years old with a high school diploma or GED, and must be licensed in New Jersey as a nursing home or assisted living administrator. Thirty hours of training on assisted living issues is required every three years for administrators.
For other staff, an orientation and education plan is required at every facility. Annual training is required in these fields:
– Providing services and assistance to residents with physical impairments
– Emergency plans and procedures
– Infection prevention and control
– Resident rights
– Abuse and neglect
– Care of residents with Alzheimer’s and related dementia
Anyone who assists with personal care (including activities of daily living) must fulfill a relevant and approved training program. Twenty hours of additional training on issues related to assisted living residents is required every two years. Anyone who assists with medication administration must have 10 hours of training on that subject every two years.
An assistance program for people with low incomes, New Jersey’s Medicaid Managed Long Term Services and Supports is money from the state’s Medicaid FamilyCare program that can help cover the costs of assisted living. Note that Medicaid can only cover the cost of care services in assisted living / memory care. Medicaid cannot pay for room and board costs. Recipients who are Medicaid-eligible can choose their own providers for services including behavioral therapy and assisted living. For more, visit the state’s MLTSS page.
I Choose Home – NJ is for people with Medicaid who want to move from a nursing home into their own house or into assisted living. Also called Money Follows the Person, this program works with your loved one to come up with a care plan that gets a person out of nursing-home care and into a program that’s most suitable, which might include memory care. ICH-NJ claims to have transitioned more than 26,000 people out of nursing-home care, and saved $35 million. For more, click here. Check eligibility using the link above.
Veterans are statistically more likely to develop dementia. Relevant in all states including New Jersey 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 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 (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 veteran’s homes in New Jersey, 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 their 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.