Utah regulations define assisted living homes as providing 24-hour personal and healthcare services to help maintain independence, choice, dignity, and privacy in a home-like environment. Meals, housekeeping, an activities program, and assistance with medication management are provided in Utah assisted living. Intermittent nursing care is also available.
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. All residents, even those with dementia, must be able to evacuate in an emergency with limited help.
In 2020, the average cost of memory care per month in Utah is $4,467, which breaks down to about $112 per day and $53,604 annually. Unlike many other states, Utah regulations do not require a written statement of all charges, including potential optional charges, to be given to interested residents. Make sure you ask for this information, and file it as defense against unexpected costs. Assisted living, without the additional services required for memory care, costs Utah residents about $3,414 per month and $40,968 annually.
The state’s most expensive city for memory care is Salt Lake City (which is also its biggest city), where the average cost is $5,026 monthly and $60,312 annually. The cheapest is in rural areas outside the five largest cities, for about $3,590 monthly and $43,080 per year.
A resident assessment, using a state-mandated form, must be conducted to assess personal and health needs before someone can be admitted into Utah assisted living, and then again every six months.
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 self or others
– Requires inpatient hospital or nursing care
Assisted living / memory care residences can transfer or evict someone whose care needs cannot be met there, or who fails to pay for services in their admission agreement.
One-person apartments or 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 one living unit, if they request to live together. There must be one toilet for every four residents, and a shower or bath per every 10.
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 education and training, and clear a background check. All staff must complete an orientation upon hiring that includes:
– Job descriptions
– Ethics and resident rights
– Reporting abuse, neglect and exploitation
Further, 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
Utah’s New Choices Waiver (NCW) 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. For more information about NCW, including how to apply, click here. Note that there are specific times of year when applications are accepted:
– March 1 – March 14
– July 1 – July 14
– November 1 – November 14
This is a Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) waiver for people over 65 who need nursing home level care but wish to remain at 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 is 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 persons take a Medicaid eligibility pre-screen to determine if they are eligible.
Veterans are statistically more likely to develop dementia. Relevant in all states including Utah 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 Utah, 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.