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

Last Updated: November 13, 2022

 

Utah defines assisted living homes as providing 24-hour personal and healthcare services. They support residents by providing meals, housekeeping, an activities program, and assistance with medication management. Intermittent nursing care is also available, but anyone who needs full-time nursing care cannot live in assisted living.

Memory care units for people with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia must be certified as viable and safe by the state’s Department of Health. The features that make a home safe are related to dementia-specific training for staff and programs based on what’s best for residents with Alzheimer’s. All residents, even those with dementia, must be able to evacuate in an emergency with little help.

There are more than 65 memory care residences in Utah. There are also approximately 94 board and care homes, which offer the same services as assisted living, for 12 or fewer residents in a more home-like environment. For free help finding memory care of any size to meet your family’s needs and budget, click here.

 Did You Know? Only about 10 percent of Utah residents are over 65, one the lowest rate of seniors in the country. Roughly 10 percent of them have Alzheimer’s disease, which also ranks in the top 5 lowest rates in America. About 35,000 people in Utah have Alzheimer’s.

 

How Much Does Memory Care Cost in Utah?

In 2022, the average cost of memory care per month in Utah is $4,233. Utah is a relatively inexpensive state for memory care, compared to the national average of $5,448 monthly.

The state’s most expensive area for memory care is in Provo, located in the north central part of the state in the Utah Valley, costing $4,454 per month. In Salt Lake City, the average cost is $4,012 monthly. The least expensive city is a little more than an hour north of Salt Lake City in Logan, where memory care costs $3,975 per month.

 In Utah, free assistance is available to help families locate a memory care home to meet their needs and budget. Get help here.

If you live near Utah’s border, you may be able to find more options for affordable memory care in another state. Twin Falls, Idaho, for example, is only about an hour outside Utah, and the average monthly cost of memory care there is $4,638. Nevada’s monthly average of $4,527 is close to Utah’s average, so residents of western Utah may want to look at memory care homes there. To the south and east, Arizona costs $4,859, Colorado is $5,742 and Wyoming averages $5,043. All average higher memory care costs than Utah, but prices can vary widely so it is still a good idea to look there if the locations are convenient.

Utah Memory Care / Assisted Living Costs (updated Sept. 2022)
Region / City Daily Cost Monthly Cost
Statewide $139 $4,233
Salt Lake City $132 $4,012
Logan $131 $3,975
Provo $146 $4,454
St. George $139 $4,233

 

Utah Assisted Living Laws & Regulations

 COVID-19 Related Measures (updated Sept. 2022)
Residents – Their temperatures are checked and patients are also tested regularly.
Visitors – Can visit loved ones, must wear a mask and temperature is checked upon entry.
Staff – Have temperatures checked upon entry and are regularly tested.

Admissions Process & Requirements

Before being admitted into a assisted living facility in Utah, a state-mandated form is used for all resident assessments that evaluates personal and health needs. This must be updated every six months. Assessments are made by a medical professional who works for the residence. The cost of assessing is usually part of the base rate to live in a memory care home. Some homes charge a one-time community fee that usually runs between $1,500 and $2,500. This fee is meant to cover expenses like deep cleaning, painting their room and the first assessment which creates a personalized care plan. This process breaks down your loved one’s personal and medical needs. For example, the plan would define the stage of dementia and which therapies are effective to encourage exercise or socializing.

New residents must be provided with the following information in writing:

– Residents’ legal rights
– How the residence protects personal funds
– Procedure for filing a complaint

Someone with any of the following conditions may not be admitted into Utah assisted living:

– Cannot evacuate in an emergency with minimal assistance
– Is dangerous to themselves or others
– Requires inpatient hospital or nursing care

Memory care residences can evict someone whose care needs cannot be met there, or who fails to pay for services in their admission agreement.

Rules say that someone must be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or related dementia to move into memory care in Utah. Exceptions may be made, however, for people with all the symptoms of dementia who have not received an official diagnosis. Diagnosing Alzheimer’s is a difficult process that includes expensive tests like PET brain scans. The home will assess whether your loved one is a good fit based on interviews and an evaluation.

It is possible to move into assisted living in Utah on short notice, but this is not a good idea. Finding the right memory care community for your loved one is important. You should investigate as many potential homes as possible before making a decision taking tours and asking residents and staff questions. Additionally, your loved one will have more input into the decision the earlier you start looking.

 

Facility / Residence

One-person living units must be at least 120 square feet, and a two-person room must be at least 200 square feet. Two is the maximum number of people allowed in a room is two. There must be one toilet for every four residents and a shower or bath for every 10.

Unlike other states, Utah does not require memory care communities to be built with dementia-friendly design features. Examples of this include easy-to-navigate layouts, secure outdoor areas so residents can spend time outdoors, and bright lighting and paint colors. Closely inspect any home you are considering focusing on whether your loved one will be comfortable within the space.

 

Staff & Training

There are no minimum staffing ratios in Utah. In memory care, at least one person with dementia-specific training must be on-duty at all times. Administrators must be at least 21 years old, have adequate training and clear a background check. All staff must complete an orientation that includes:

– Job descriptions
– Ethics and resident rights
– Reporting abuse, neglect and exploitation

Additionally, staff working with residents with dementia must have training that includes:

– Communicating techniques
– Types and stages of dementia
– Person-centered care principles
– Maintaining safety in memory care

 

Evictions & Discharges

In Utah memory care homes, a resident can be evicted because:

– Staff cannot meet the needs of the resident
– Resident fails to pay bills according to the agreed-upon contract
– Resident fails to follow community rules and policies

You will want to be very clear on specific policies about why and how someone can be evicted before agreeing to a move-in contract. Will your loved one’s needs continue to be met as the dementia advances into later stages? Which specific rules if broken are a violation that will get your loved one evicted? You also need to know how much advance notice you’ll receive before the eviction is enforced (it’s usually 30 days), and whether there’s a process to appeal. Get the answers to these questions in writing and save them, because unfair evictions can be a problem in assisted living nationwide. If your loved one has received an eviction notice and you need to know next steps, click here.

 

Financial Assistance for Residential Alzheimer’s Memory Care

New Choices Waiver

Utah’s New Choices Waiver is provided through the state’s Medicaid program to cover the costs of remaining in assisted living with memory care rather than moving into a more expensive nursing home. It can also cover the costs of moving out of a nursing home and into memory care. Additional benefits provided under the waiver include medical devices, meals, financial management services, and transportation. Recipients must be Medicaid-eligible in Utah and require nursing-home level care. Applications are only accepted three times per year: March 1 – March 14, July 1 – July 14 and November 1 – November 14. For more information about the waiver, including how to apply, click here.

 

Aging Waiver

This is a Home and Community Based Services waiver for people over 65 who need nursing home level care but want to remain in their own home or in assisted living. Many of the benefits are similar to the New Choices Waiver above, including medical devices and meals. Help with activities of daily living are also covered. Recipients must be Medicaid-eligible. Only a limited number of people may be accepted into this program, so there could be a waiting list. For more information, click here. To apply, contact your local Area Agency on Aging. Prior to application, it is suggested your loved one takes a Medicaid eligibility pre-screen to determine if they are eligible.

 

Veterans Affairs (VA)

Veterans are statistically more likely to develop dementia. Among the reasons for this is that traumatic brain injuries and posttraumatic stress disorder lead to a higher probability of developing the condition. The VA offers many benefits for Alzheimer’s and dementia as well as different pension types.

 

VA Pensions

There are three types of VA Pensions available. The benefits change annually and are valid from December 2022 to December 2023. The benefits (and their maximum allowance) are as follows:

1) Basic Pension – This benefit is also known as a death pension. It is for veterans and surviving spouses who are aged or disabled. The qualifying disability does not need to be related to their military service. On an annual basis, the Basic Pension pays:

– Veterans without spouses or children up to $16,073

– Veterans with dependent spouses or children up to $21,001

– Surviving spouses without dependent children up to $10,756

2) Aid & Attendance – Abbreviated as A&A, this is an important program for veterans and their surviving spouses who require assistance with activities of daily living. This means they need assistance with activities like bathing, dressing, and eating. A&A is particularly helpful for people with dementia, especially in the middle and later stages of the disease, when the need for more assistance becomes necessary. A&A is intended to help with the long-term care costs of adult day care, in-home care, assisted living, memory care, and skilled nursing. Based on an individual’s need and the progression of the disease, most of these additional services that support your loved one will become necessary. Annually, the A&A pays:

– Veterans without spouses or children a maximum of $26,751

– Veterans with dependent spouses or children a maximum of $31,713

– Surviving spouses without dependent children a maximum of $17,191

3) Housebound – For veterans and surviving spouses who are permanently disabled and unable to leave their homes, making them require additional assistance. The definition of “home” can include assisted living, memory care, and nursing home. The Housebound pension, like the A&A pension, is meant to help cover long-term care costs. Annually, the Housebound pays:

– Veterans without spouses or children a maximum of $19,598

– Veterans with dependent spouses or children a maximum of $24,562

– Surviving spouses without dependent children a maximum of $13,145

 More information on VA Pensions’ eligibility criteria, payment rates and the application process is available here.

Veterans Homes

There are four veterans’ homes in Utah. They are residential care facilities that provide long-term care for veterans. In addition to nursing home care and assisted living, three of these residences offer memory care:

1) The Central Utah Veterans Home in Payson. Located minutes from Utah Lake and at the bottom of the southern Wasatch Range.

2) The Utah State Veterans Nursing Home in Salt Lake City. Located in the state’s capital and the largest populated city. There is a 20 bed memory care unit.

3) The George E. Wahlen Ogden Veterans Home in Ogden. Located in Northern Utah to the east of the Great Salt Lake. There is a 30 bed memory care unit.

Neighboring states also have veterans’ homes, so your loved one might consider looking there for more options as there are no requirements that one must live in the state. For example, Colorado has five veterans’ homes statewide. Additionally, Arizona and Nevada both have two facilities. More info.

 

Other Options

1) Elder care loans exist for families to cover the costs of moving into memory care while waiting for other financial resources to become available. For example, if one is waiting for a VA pension to be approved or waiting to sell a home. More on bridge loans for memory care.

2) 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 can include assisted living costs.

3) A reverse mortgage can be an option for a married person moving into memory care, if their spouse continues to live in the home. However, if the spouse moves from their home, the reverse mortgage becomes due.