Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care Costs: Facts & Figures

The U.S. population is aging, and the number of individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia is growing. Former Surgeon General David Satcher, in a November 2014 essay for The Hill, wrote, “Alzheimer’s is the most under-recognized threat to public health in the 21st century.” Satcher estimates that the number of Americans with Alzheimer’s will reach 16 million by the middle of this century.

While Dementia Rates are Declining, There Exists a Need for New Care Options

The Framingham Heart Study, which has collected data on dementia since 1975, is finding that dementia rates are declining, and people are developing dementia later in life. While this trend is encouraging, and researchers are continually making progress in their efforts to find ways to delay and prevent dementia, there are still millions of Americans that will need care for Alzheimer’s and dementia in the coming decades.

Memory Care is Tailor-Made for People Living With Dementia

In response to this need, a new type of assisted living has emerged. Called memory care communities, they are serving as a bridge between traditional assisted living communities and nursing homes. These communities are customized to meet the unique needs of those living with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Because wandering is a concern with Alzheimer’s, these communities typically secure their grounds so that residents may safely go outdoors into a garden or courtyard without the danger of getting lost. Hallways and entrances provide color cues to assist residents in finding their rooms. Many of the luxuries found in high-end assisted living communities, such as swimming pools, are omitted to reduce stressful stimulation.

Costs Vary Across States

The average cost of memory care varies by state, ranging between $3,200 and $5,600 per month, according to the data collected by SeniorHomes.com. Communities in the Northeast are priced at the higher end of the scale. Pricing is dependent on the level of care required and the size of the room or apartment selected (a private bath is standard in most communities.)  Residents may also be charged a deposit and a one-time fee to cover administration costs and costs associated with renovating the room or apartment for its new tenant. Optional fees may include cost of transportation, a fee to keep a pet and fee for guest meals.

These figures fall in between the costs of traditional assisted living, which in 2015 averaged $3,600 per month nationwide, and residence in a skilled nursing facility, which cost, on average, $6,698 per month, according to Genworth USA. For a family that has the resources to pay for memory care, this option may be ideal for a loved one who needs something more than traditional assisted living without the loss of independence and institutional feel that comes with a move to the nursing home.