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

Last Updated: April 30, 2021

 

According to West Virginia regulations, assisted living residences (ALR) provide room and board with personal assistance and supervision to people who are limited by mental or physical impairment. ALRs may be licensed by the Department of Health and Human Resources to admit people with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia into what’s often called “memory care” if they meet certain standards, including special training for staff on how to help and communicate with someone who has Alzheimer’s or a related disease including vascular, frontotemporal, and Lewy body dementias. ALRs may not provide full-time nursing care, but they will help residents with activities of daily living (ADLs) like eating and bathing. Nutritious meals, a secure environment, and activities that encourage health and socialization should be standard at all memory care homes.

While full-time nursing care cannot be provided in memory care, nursing care for a short time is allowed as long as the residence has the capability. If someone in West Virginia needs treatment that is not provided there, they may work with the residence to find a third-party who can come in and deliver medical care.

There are 25 memory care homes in West Virginia, ranging in size from apartment-complex style options to smaller house-like residences with 12 or fewer people (these are called “board and care homes”). For free help finding memory care of any size to meet your family’s needs and budget, click here.

 COVID-19 Vaccine in West Virginia Memory Care
West Virginia was the first state to complete administration of coronavirus immunizations in assisted living homes. If your loved one lives in memory care, they should have received the shot by now.

 

How Much Does Memory Care Cost in West Virginia?

 Did You Know? In West Virginia, free assistance is available to help families locate a memory care home to meet their needs and budgets. Get help here

The average cost of assisted living with memory care in West Virginia is $4,735 per month, which is about $56,820 annually. Assisted living, without the additional services required for memory care, costs about $1,000 less per month. West Virginia is one of the more affordable states for memory care, as the national average is about $5,000.

The most expensive place for memory care in West Virginia is Morgantown where memory care costs average about $6,852 per month and $82,224 annually. The least expensive memory care is in the Huntington area, for about $4,448 per month and $53,376 annually. Other West Virginia cities’ memory care costs:

West Virginia Memory Care / Assisted Living Costs (updated April 2021)
Region / City Monthly Cost Annual Cost
Statewide $4,735 $56,820
Morgantown $6,852 $82,224
Parkersburg $5,632 $67,584
Wheeling $4,592 $55,104
Weirton $5,524 $66,288
Beckley $6,493 $77,916

It may be possible for West Virginians to find more affordable memory care in surrounding states, though most of the states that border WV have higher overall average costs. To the east, Maryland ($5,883) and Virginia ($5,704) are more expensive generally, but costs can vary widely. Better luck is likely in Pennsylvania, whose overall memory care costs average $4,663. Pittsburgh, only about an hour away from northern West Virginia towns, costs even less at about $4,197 per month for memory care. Kentucky, to the west, is also less expensive at about $4,376 per month. The bottom line is that West Virginians might be able to find more affordable memory care if they are willing to travel outside the state, but prices obviously vary widely.

 

West Virginia Assisted Living Laws & Regulations

Admissions Process & Requirements

Within 60 days before moving in, or within five days after, every resident in West Virginia assisted living, including in memory care, must have a health assessment conducted by a healthcare professional. Usually, someone who works for the residence will do this assessment (assessors must be specially licensed by the state), and the cost of assessing may be included in the base rate or be part of a “community fee” charged when your loved one moves in. Community fees cover up-front costs including assessing and preparing a new resident’s room, and usually run between $1,500 and $2,500.

The assessment must evaluate a person’s functional, dietary, health care, and social needs. This information is used to create an individualized service plan that gives staff important information about your loved one’s unique needs and preferences.

Upon admission, the contract between the residence and resident must include the following:
– The type of resident population the residence is able to serve (in memory care this would be people with dementia)
– The nursing care services the residence can provide
– All costs
– Refund policy
– A promise not to charge for costs that are not disclosed upon admission
– Reasons a person can be evicted
– How to file a complaint
– Medication policies
– Policies for managing residents’ money
– Whether the residence has liability coverage

Someone does not need an official diagnosis of Alzheimer’s (or related disease including frontotemporal, vascular, and Lewy body dementias) before moving into dementia care in West Virginia.

 

Facility / Residence

Bedrooms in assisted living residences must be at least 80 square feet for one person. Newly built residences must have bedrooms that are at least 100 square feet. Double-occupancy rooms must be at least 90 square feet per person. There must be at least one toilet for every six residents, and one bath or shower for every 10 residents.

Unlike many states, West Virginia regulations do not say memory care homes must be built with special dementia-friendly design features. Clear sight lines and landmarks, circular hallways so wandering residents don’t encounter dead ends, secure outdoor areas, and bright lighting and paint colors have all been shown to benefit people with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia. You’ll want to keep an eye out for these features as you tour potential homes, thinking about whether your loved one will be comfortable within the spaces.

 COVID-19 Rules for Visitations in WV Memory Care
Indoor visits are allowed in West Virginia assisted living homes, but visitors and residents will still be asked to wear masks and maintain social distance. An exception to social distancing is allowed if both parties are vaccinated. For more, click here.

 

Staff & Training

An administrator with state-approved education and experience must be hired at every assisted living residence to be responsible for operations. In every ALR, there must always be sufficient staff on duty to provide for the service needs of every resident, and someone with first aid and CPR training must be awake and on duty 24 hours per day. Administrators must receive at least eight hours of training annually.

Regular staff must have an orientation upon hiring that covers the following issues:
– Emergency procedures and disaster plans
– Residence policies and procedures
– Abuse prevention and reporting requirements
– Ombudsmen and how to file a complaint
– Caring based on individual needs and service plans
– Activities for groups and individuals

Annual training must include:
– Resident rights
– Confidentiality
– Abuse prevention and reporting
– Resident activities
– Infection control
– Fire safety and evacuation plans

In memory care, staff must complete at least 15 hours of training prior to working hands-on with residents, with 15 hours more before they can be hands-on without supervision. In addition to the annual training listed above, they must have two hours annually on specifically dementia-related issues.

 

Evictions & Discharges

Except in emergency situations, a West Virginia assisted living residence needs to give 30 days notice before evicting or discharging someone. There are not a lot of other statewide rules for memory care evictions, except that someone must be evicted or discharged if they require full-time nursing care or if the residence is otherwise unable to meet their medical needs. Can someone be evicted for late payment of bills, or for verbal abuse? What is the process of appealing an eviction, and does the residence help find more appropriate housing? The answers to these questions will vary from residence-to-residence, but these details are important because unfair evictions are a major problem in assisted living. Before agreeing to a move-in contract, make sure you know all the possible reasons a person can be kicked out, and how the process works. Get these details in writing, so you’re protected. If your loved one in memory care receives an eviction notice and you need to know next steps, click here.

 

Financial Assistance for Residential Alzheimer’s Memory Care

Medicaid Personal Care

This Medicaid program provides funds to help people with activities of daily living (ADLs). Medicaid money cannot go toward room and board in assisted living, but the program assesses an individual’s needs to determine how the money can be spent. Recipients can have up to 210 hours of help per month with ADLs including dressing, eating, and personal hygiene.

To qualify, you must be Medicaid-eligible, including monthly income under $794 (though there are options to work around income and other requirements if necessary). For more information, click here. To apply, contact your local Area Agency on Aging.

 

Home and Community Based Services Waiver

Among the programs included under the umbrella of this Medicaid HCBS waiver are the Aged & Disable Waiver (ADW) and the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Waiver (IDDW). They can help cover the costs of many services and equipment needed by people with dementia, including help with activities of daily living and transportation to appointments. The intention of these waivers is to help people, even those with dementia living in memory care, live as independently as possible and/or avoid being transferred into more expensive nursing-home care. Recipients fall within WV Medicaid eligibility guidelines, but state health officials may be able to help those who don’t qualify. For contacts to apply and more information, click here.

 

Veterans Affairs (VA)

In part because of their 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 West Virginia is the VA’s Aid & Attendance pension program for veterans and surviving spouses, which is 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 income improvement pensions can be used as the recipient wishes, meaning the benefits can go toward the cost of memory care. In addition, the cost of residential care can be deducted from 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 $14,928. Learn more here.

There are also two veterans’ homes in West Virginia located in Barboursville (western WV) and Clarksburg (northern central, about 40 minutes south of Morgantown). 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 service. Some veterans’ homes have limited availability and wait-lists may exist. Check with each veterans’ home independently to inquire. 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 claim your elderly loved one as a dependent). Remember also that medical and dental expenses can be deducted, and that might 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, the reverse mortgage would become due.

Elder care loans are for families to cover 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? West Virginia is one of the Top 3 oldest states, as about 19% of its population is over 65 years old. The number of senior citizens there with Alzheimer’s is expected to increase from 39,000 in 2020 to 44,000 in 2025.