Understanding the Costs of Dementia Care posted on: 04-12-2021

mom and daughter talk about the costs of in-home dementia care.After the shock of a dementia or Alzheimer’s diagnosis fades, there are important decisions to make. Dementia is a progressive disease, and time is of the essence. As soon as possible, families should begin to explore the costs of in-home dementia care and care provided in memory care facilities and skilled nursing facilities.

The person receiving the diagnosis deserves to have as much input in the decision-making process as possible about their future and their wishes for loved ones and family. Including your loved one with early-stage dementia in the discussion helps them retain their autonomy and independence for as long as possible. 

Preparing for Dementia Care

As you discuss the future, we recommend creating a long-term care plan that encompasses the points covered in our post, How to Sensitively Manage the In-Between Stages of Aging. You’ll also want to create a financial plan that accommodates both short and long-term memory care costs. 

We recommend speaking to a financial planner to learn the different ways to plan for long-term care costs. Later in this post, we’ll share some general estimates for the in-home dementia care costs compared to other options like memory care facilities.

At this mid-stage, your loved one may still recognize core family and friends, but it’s not safe for them to remain in the home unsupervised. They can become easily lost or confused, even in very familiar locations. By the time they progress into the mid-stage, some form of around-the-clock care may be necessary. 

This is also the stage where dangerous things like leaving a burner on the stovetop in the “on” position, having access to guns, or babysitting a grandchild can lead to unimaginable consequences, which is why a care plan is necessary.

Average Monthly Costs of In-Home Dementia Care

There are many options to help support the cost of in-home dementia care, especially when we view dementia as a progressive disease. We recommend reading, Options for Taking Care of Elderly Parents at Home to learn ways to save money at the outset of the diagnosis, so there is more to spend later when the disease progresses to the 24-hour care stage.

The average hourly cost for in-home memory care in the U.S. is $25 per hour. In Massachusetts, that cost is a little higher, averaging around $30 per hour. If your loved one prefers to age-in-place at home and family caregivers are in the mix, the cost for eight hours of care per day, seven days a week, would be roughly $6,066 per month.

Keep in mind that this wage pays for all of the services provided during that time, without any hidden fees or add-on surcharges. 

At 8 hours per day, that brings long-term care charges to:

  • $6,066 per month
  • $72,792 per year
  • $363,960 for five years

In most cases, you would use far less than that at the beginning of the diagnosis, with the ability to scale up the caregiver’s hours as more supervision and direct client care when required. 

It’s important to highlight that there are no hidden fees for in-home care services. The single hourly wage covers all of the services provided by a caregiver during his/her shift:

  • Companionship
  • Medication reminders
  • Transportation services
  • Mobility support
  • Hygiene and toileting care
  • Daily grooming
  • Meal support
  • Errand running
  • Respite care
  • Supervision
  • Light housekeeping
  • And more

We are currently living through a pandemic, so an invaluable benefit of in-home memory care is the family’s right to visit their loved one whenever they want.

That freedom to visit is something that hasn’t been available to seniors residing in residential facilities across the nation for the last year, leading to mental health concerns and feelings of depression, anxiety, and isolation. In-home care alleviates all of those issues.

Average Monthly Cost for Assisted Living Facilities

When it comes to analyzing the cost for an assisted living facility, it gets tricky. The average cost of memory care in an assisted living facility is quoted at $6,000 per month. The “tricky” part is that $6,000 is a baseline charge. That fee accounts for the client’s room and board, as well as basic on-site amenities.

From that baseline, assisted living communities attach “add-on” fees for many of the activities of daily living services. This can mean multiple daily charges per day for things like:

  • Hygiene support
  • Dressing/undressing
  • Incontinence care
  • Mobility assistance to/from common areas, mealtimes, activities, and events
  • Laundry and linen changes
  • Medication management
  • And more

Daily add-on charges accumulate quickly. Uninformed clients can find themselves facing monthly charges and bills far higher than the anticipated quote.

For example, a 2017 poster to an aging care forum inquired about the “add-on” fees for her parent, which included $552/month for medication management, $266/month for accompanying her parent to/from the room, as well as a $2,500 “set up fee.”

We recommend requesting an itemized add-on charge list from prospective assisted living, nursing home, or memory care facilities before agreeing to move a loved one in.

Assuming your total monthly fee for assisted living is $6,000/month, you need to prepare to pay:

  • $6,000/month
  • $72,000 per year – in addition to any additional charges
  • $360,000 for five years (plus add-on charges)

Assisted living options may look more affordable on paper. But we’ve found add-on charges, combined with the differences in quality between in-home care and facility-based care, make in-home dementia care a more compassionate and wise investment. 

Paying For Memory Care

Memory care figures can be staggering to look at, but there are ways to diminish out-of-pocket costs. Typically, families use a combination of resources to pay for senior care. 

Our post, How to Pay for In-Home Care, is an excellent resource for learning more specifics. Most of our clients use a combination of sources, including:

  • Private health insurance
  • Medicare
  • Veteran’s benefits
  • Personal and retirement savings
  • Family member contributions
  • Reverse mortgages
  • Long-term care insurance

The best way to evaluate the cost of in-home care memory care compared to other options is to schedule appointments with licensed memory care providers in your area.

Care Options for Alzheimer’s Patients