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

Last Updated: February 26, 2021


Assisted living centers in Oklahoma serve older adults by providing room, board, personal care and assistance with activities of daily living. Centers may admit residents with Alzheimer’s disease, or another dementia, in Special Care Units. These units are often called “memory care” and must outline, in writing, how their services go beyond normal assisted living to address the needs of people with dementia. Steps must be taken, for example, to limit outside access by wandering residents, and dementia-specific training is required for staff.

Personalized care for every resident is provided in Oklahoma memory care. What is your loved one’s stage of dementia? Exactly which activities of daily living (ADLs like bathing or eating) does the person with dementia need help with? What programs or activities can encourage socialization and help manage symptoms? Residences use multiple assessments to make care decisions, and provide living spaces that are safe and comfortable when your loved one can no longer be at home.

Residents in memory care may also contract with outside healthcare providers for services including private nursing services, individualized health services, and hospice. (For information on how to help pay for these, see below.) Residents can also receive medication administration and intermittent nursing care from the center itself, but not 24-hour nursing care.
Assisted living in Oklahoma is regulated by the Department of Health’s Long Term Care Services Division. There are 60 memory care homes in Oklahoma, varying in size from apartment-complex-style communities with more than 100 people to house-like board and care homes that serve 12 or fewer.

For free help finding memory care of any size to fit your family’s needs and budget, click here.

 COVID-19 Vaccine in OK Memory Care
In January and February 2021, the vaccine to immunize against the coronavirus was administered in every assisted living home in Oklahoma. If your loved one lives in memory care, they should have received the shot by now. For more information, click here.


How Much Does Memory Care Cost in Oklahoma?

Oklahoma is one of the 10 least expensive states for memory care in the United States. The average cost of memory care there is $4,412, or about $52,944 annually. The state’s most expensive city for memory care is Tulsa, where costs average about $5,345 per month or $64,140 annually. The most affordable city for memory care is Enid, for about $3,480 monthly or $41,760 annually. In Oklahoma City, memory care costs about $4,592 per month or $55,104 annually.

Though Oklahoma is more affordable than many other states, residents who live near the eastern and southern state borders may have even less expensive options. Arkansas, to the east, averages about $4,125 monthly for memory care, and the town of Fort Smith, right on the border, costs about $4,000 per month for memory care. To the south, Texas averages $4,699 monthly, but costs there vary widely. Near the southern Oklahoma border, for instance, is the town of Wichita Falls, where memory care costs about $4,125 per month. If you’re shopping for affordable memory care, therefore, it’s a good idea to expand your search into other states.

 Regardless of where they reside or where they are looking for assisted living, OK residents can receive free assistance in finding assisted living. Start here.


Oklahoma Assisted Living Laws & Regulations

Admissions Process & Requirements

Within 30 days of moving in, a new memory care resident must be assessed for medical and personal needs using a standardized form provided by the state. Also, within 14 days a more comprehensive assessment must be completed, to further determine what a resident needs to thrive in the community. This comprehensive assessment must be redone every year. Assessments are performed by medical professionals working for the memory care community, and the cost of assessing may be included with the base rate or part of a one-time “community fee” that covers all up-front costs (including other details like deep cleaning and painting a new resident’s room). Community fees usually run between $1,500 and $2,500.

Someone may not move into assisted living centers if:
– Medical or personal needs go beyond what the residence can provide
– Physical or chemical restraints are required
– Any danger is posed to self or others

Anyone interested in moving into memory care in Oklahoma is entitled to a disclosure form that explains the following:
– types of services provided
– any additional (beyond the base rate) costs of those services
– the residence’s admissions process
– details on structured activities that benefit residents with dementia
– staffing and staff training
– safety features

There is not a rule in Oklahoma regulations that says a person needs an official diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, or related disease like frontotemporal, vascular, or Lewy body dementias, in order to move into memory care. Dementias are hard to diagnose; expensive tests like PET brain scans are necessary, and symptoms change and vary depending on the individual.

 COVID-19 Rules for OK Memory Care Admissions
During the pandemic, assisted living homes in Oklahoma may require new admissions to quarantine for 14 days in a special area before joining other residents.


Facility / Residence

Unlike many other states, Oklahoma does not have a minimum square footage requirement for residents’ bedrooms. Regulations simply say that the design must be appropriate for the mental and physical disabilities of people who live there. The maximum number of people allowed in one bedroom is two. There needs to be a bathroom for every four people living in an assisted living center.

Oklahoma regulations are not specific about dementia-friendly designs in memory care homes. In other states, this means clear sightlines and easy-to-navigate layouts, as well as a secure outdoor area, special locks to prevent wandering, and soft paint colors. Features like these have been shown to help with symptoms. As you investigate living options for your loved one with dementia, keep an eye on whether the spaces are safe and comfortable.

 COVID-19 Rules for Visitations in OK Memory Care
Visits to loved ones in Oklahoma assisted living are allowed, with varying levels of security against virus transmission. Whether you can visit in person depends on the infection rate of the county (click here) and when the last positive test at the residence was. During the pandemic, check with specific residences for their guidelines on visitations.


Staff & Training

There is no staff-to-resident ratio in Oklahoma assisted living, except to say that there must always be enough people working to satisfy the particular needs of every single resident, and someone on staff must be awake at all times, including through the night. Any staff providing socialization, or leading activities including exercise, must be qualified through training. Employees who work directly with residents must be trained in first aid and CPR. An administrator responsible for operations must be designated at every center. Administrators are certified and/or licensed by the state, and must have 16 hours of continuing education annually.


Evictions & Discharges

Assisted living homes must give at least 30 days notice before an eviction, except when there is a threat to safety. Unlike other states, Oklahoma regulations do not require the residence to help find a new home for someone who is being evicted. The reasons a person can be evicted include:

– Need for care is greater than what the residence can provide
– Physical or chemical restraints become necessary

If your loved one moves into memory care and then sees a drastic health change, this may not necessarily require moving out. The residence can work with your doctor to accommodate needs (if possible) by formulating a written plan and then reviewing the plan every three months. Without an agreed-upon plan, eviction may be necessary.

Memory care homes may have their own specific guidelines for how and why a person can be evicted, and it’s important you know them because unfair evictions are a major problem in assisted living nationwide. Before agreeing to a contract to move into a home, ask for the exact reasons a person can be told to leave, and what the next steps are, including how to appeal. Get the answers in writing. If your loved one in Oklahoma has received an eviction notice and you need to know next steps, click here.


Financial Assistance for Residential Alzheimer’s Memory Care

ADvantage Program Waiver

For people who want to remain in their houses or assisted living communities instead of moving into a nursing home, the Medicaid ADvantage Program Waiver provides financial assistance to cover costs including personal care, nursing, transportation, occupational therapy, and much more. Participants can have their options managed by the state or self-determined. Services within assisted living, like laundry and meals, are covered. To receive benefits, a person must be Medicaid-eligible. For more information, including how to apply and who to contact, click here.


Oklahoma Personal Care Program

The Oklahoma State Plan Personal Care program (SPPC) is another Medicaid option that may be available to people living in memory care, though the scope of coverage is smaller than benefits provided under the ADvantage waiver above. Personal Care provides funds to help pay for caregivers who assist with activities of daily living. Applicants must be Medicaid-eligible. For a brochure with more information, click here. For contacts and more on how to apply, visit the programs website here.

  Both programs described above are Medicaid programs. Learn more about Oklahoma Medicaid eligibility criteria or take an online Medicaid eligibility test


Veterans Affairs (VA)

Because those who served in combat have higher rates of traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), veterans are statistically more likely to develop dementia. Relevant in all states including Oklahoma 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 pay for 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 seven veterans’ homes in Oklahoma, which are residential care facilities that provide long-term care for veterans. In addition to nursing home care and assisted living, memory care is provided at four of these: Lawton (in southwest OK), Claremore (near Tulsa), Clinton (northern Great Plains country), and Norman (outside Oklahoma City). 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 contacts and more information, 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.

 Did You Know? About 13% of Oklahomans over 65 have Alzheimer’s disease, one of the lowest rates in the country. The number of people with Alzheimer’s in the state is expected to increase from 67,000 in 2020 to 76,000 in 2025.