I. Paying for Memory Care in Georgia

The Cost of Memory Care in Georgia

Because of the specialized staff training and resources required to provide high-quality memory care, memory care typically costs more than other types of residential care. On average, memory care will cost 20-30% more than assisted living.

In Georgia, the average monthly cost of assisted living is $3,335, which offers seniors savings of over $700 compared to the national average of $4,051 per month. Memory care tends to cost around 25% more than assisted living services, meaning Georgia seniors can expect to pay an average of $4,169 per month as a resident of a memory care unit.

Assisted living costs vary across Georgia. In the capital city of Atlanta, assisted living services average $3,750 per month. Some cities offer a more cost-effective option for seniors, such as Augusta where the average is $2,800 per month, and Columbus where the monthly average is $3,000. Other cities have much higher costs, including Gainesville at $4,474, and Brunswick at $6,000 per month. It is important to consider that these costs are for standard assisted living services. Seniors in memory care units can expect to pay anywhere from $650 to $1,500 more each month depending on the location of the facility.

   

Georgia Medicaid Programs for Memory Care

Community Care Services Program (CCSP)

Part of the state’s Elderly and Disabled Waiver program, the CCSP is designed to help elderly adults who are unable to live on their own and require assistance with daily living, but do not require the level of care offered in a nursing home.

  • Who Is Eligible: To qualify for this program, seniors must be eligible for Medicaid, have a physical or cognitive impairment that prevents them from being able to live independently and undergo an assessment by a physician to determine their level of need. Applicants must also have a monthly income of less than $2,313 and no more than $2,000 in financial assets.
  • How to Apply: To apply, seniors can contact their local Georgia Aging and Disability Resource Connection (ARDC) or Area Agency on Aging to schedule an assessment. If an applicant is eligible, a care coordinator will establish what services they require.

Service Options Using Resources in a Community Environment (SOURCE)

The SOURCE program is also part of Georgia’s Elderly and Disabled Waiver program. Through this program, seniors can receive an individualized care plan to monitor their medical condition and provide assistance with daily tasks. The program offers comprehensive services including personal support, assisted living, home health, home-delivered meals, adult day health care and emergency response services.

Money Follows the Person (MFP)

The MFP program is designed to help seniors in institutionalized inpatient facilities receive the level of care they need in their own home or a community-based setting.

  • Who is Eligible: Applicants must be a Medicaid member, require an institutional level of care and desire to move into a qualified residence, such as their own home, apartment or group home setting.
  • How to Apply: Seniors who wish to apply should contact the Georgia MFP office by email at [email protected] or call 404-651-9961.

Non-Medicaid Financial Assistance Programs for Memory Care in Georgia

Medicare Advantage Plans 

Medicare Part C, also called Medicare Advantage, includes some memory care coverage for seniors living in an assisted living facility licensed to provide memory support. Coverage is often dependent on location, so it is important to check the details of the plan.

  • Who is Eligible: U.S. citizens and legal residents living in the country for at least five years who are aged 65 or older and enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B are eligible for Medicare Advantage. While seniors do not have to worry about preexisting conditions or income or asset limits to qualify, they must continue paying their monthly Medicare Part B monthly premium and any additional premium due for the MA plan they choose.
  • How to Apply: Call 800-633-4227 to learn more or use Medicare’s plan finder tool to get started.

More Ways to Pay for Memory Care

In addition to the state programs mentioned above, those looking for resources to finance memory care may consider:

  • Long-Term Care Insurance: Depending on the policy details, long-term care insurance may be used to pay for memory care services. It’s best to sign up for a policy early, as coverage will likely be denied if one already has long-term care needs. More information about the intricacies of long-term care insurance can be found at longtermcare.acl.gov.
  • Reverse Mortgages: Reverse mortgages allow some homeowners to take out a loan as an advance from the eventual sale of their primary residence. This can be a good way to fund memory care in the short-term, but the loans will need to be paid back after the sale of the home. The most commonly used type of reverse mortgages for seniors is the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage, which is the only reverse mortgage insured by the federal government.
  • Veterans Benefits: The Department of Veterans Affairs offers several programs that veterans and their spouses may use to cover health care needs such as memory care. More information about these programs can be found on the VA website.
  • Life Insurance: Some life insurance policies allow policyholders to cash out their policy before a qualifying death. There may be some downsides to accessing a life insurance benefit early, so be sure to read more about the process.

II. Memory Care Laws and Regulations in Georgia

Memory Care Regulation

In Georgia, facilities that provide residential memory care services include assisted living communities with 25 or more residents, and personal care homes for two or more residents. These facilities are licensed and regulated by the Department of Community Health (DCH), and must meet specific requirements for admission thresholds, provided services, facility standards, and medication management. Facilities offering memory care services must provide secure surroundings for residents and meet additional requirements.

All facilities in Georgia must undergo an on-site inspection to be granted their initial license. Thereafter, facilities are subject to both announced and unannounced inspections, reviews and examinations by DCH representatives.

Facility Scope of Care

Assisted living communities in Georgia are required to provide residents with personal care, medication administration by a certified aide, and assisted self-preservation in the event of an emergency situation. Personal care homes are required to offer housing, meals, personal care services, social activities, and assistance or supervision with medication administration.

In both of these settings, memory care units must offer activities appropriate to residents’ abilities or adapt activities so memory care residents are able to participate. These activities must be available on a weekly basis, with therapeutic activities available daily. Programming may include motor-focused activities such as exercises, dancing, and gardening; self-care, including bathing and grooming; social activities; and activities that support sensory enhancement.

Admissions Requirements

The state of Georgia has restrictions on who may be admitted to assisted living communities and personal care homes. The table below outlines the requirements for acceptance to one of these facilities.

Residents Who May Be AdmittedOlder adults and people with:

  • Dementia
  • Mental health conditions
  • Developmental disabilities
  • Physical disabilities
  • AIDS
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • A desire to live in a memory care unit without having a probable diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, who waive their right to live in another type of environment
Residents Who May NOT Be AdmittedThose who:

  • Require continuous medical or nursing care and services as determined by their required physical examination
  • Have active tuberculosis
  • Have a behavioral condition that requires physical or chemical restraints, isolation or confinement
  • Are bedridden
  • Require care beyond what a facility is permitted to provide

Care Plan Requirements

Facilities are required to complete a residential assessment within 48 hours of a senior moving in, and after that, on a yearly basis or following any significant health change. A licensed health professional must also determine if a senior is able to self-administer medication or requires assistance. Additional assessments may be conducted for residents with medical, psychological, developmental, or intellectual impairments.

Residents are also allowed to contract with third-party providers, such as a licensed hospice agency, certified home health agency, or mental health agency, if they feel they could benefit from additional services.

Both assisted living communities and personal care homes require residents to undergo an assessment to determine their functional capacity for completing activities of daily living, as well as their physical care needs, medical requirements, and any cognitive or behavioral impairments. Facilities also need to determine an individual residents’ personal preferences in regard to the care services they receive and whether they have access to family supports.

The results of these assessments must be written up in the form of a care plan with findings updated on an annual basis. Memory care units are required to review residents’ care plans each quarter, making adjustments as needed based on changes in their needs.

Medication Management Requirements

Residents of assisted living communities who have the capacity to self-administer medications must be allowed to do so. Staff must assist with medication administration if requested, including providing help with storage, applying topical medications or administering EpiPens. Staff must be licensed to provide this assistance unless the medication is packaged in individual doses.

If medication administration is provided by a facility, it must be performed by a certified medication aide. These services include administering physician-ordered medications, insulin or epinephrine, conducting finger stick blood glucose tests, or administering a commercially prepared enema. Quarterly drug regimen reviews must be conducted by a licensed pharmacist.

The same requirements are in place for self-administration and assistance by staff in personal care homes, however, these facilities are not permitted to administer medications and are not required to undergo pharmacist reviews.

In memory care units, both assistance with self-administration and the administration of medications must be provided by a licensed registered nurse (RN) or a licensed practical nurse working under the supervision of a licensed physician or RN. A proxy caregiver employed by the facility may also be permitted to administer these services.

Facility Requirements

In both assisted living communities and personal care homes, apartment-style units are required, so seniors may reside in either private and shared rooms. A minimum of one toilet and sink must be provided for every four residents, and at least one room for bathing/showering for every eight residents. Fully accessible bathrooms are required if a facility serves residents who rely on wheelchairs or walkers. Living units in personal care homes can house up to four residents, and residents are permitted to share a living space if the request is made in writing.

Memory care units are required to provide a homelike environment with features such as multipurpose rooms for dining and activities, secured outdoor spaces that are wheelchair accessible, lighting that minimizes shadows, and personalized entrances to resident rooms so seniors can readily identify their own space. Facilities must also have a communication system in place that allows staff to communicate with other team members and emergency service workers.

Staffing Requirements

Assisted living facilities and personal care homes in Georgia are required to have a full-time administrator to deal with daily operations, as well as a team of direct care staff to assist with personal care services. Certified medication aides must be employed to administer medication in assisted living facilities. Staffing at a facility must reflect the needs of its residents. The minimum staff-to-resident ratio is 1:15 during waking hours, and 1:25 at night, and at least one staff member must be on-site 24 hours per day.

All staff members are required to undergo training within 60 days of employment on topics such as residents’ rights, infection protocols, and emergency preparedness. Direct care staff must receive training in the medical and social needs of residents, assistance with medication, and emergency first-aid. All hands-on staff members are required to participate in 24 hours of continuing education in their first year of employment and 16 additional hours on an annual basis.

Memory care units are required to have enough specialized dementia care staff to adequately serve their residents’ needs, including certified medication aides, with one awake staff member on-site at all times. Dementia care staff must undergo special training in the areas of philosophy of care and facility policies, including dementia-specific care needs, behavioral problems, communication skills and therapeutic activities specific to those with dementia.

Medicaid Policy

While Georgia Medicaid does not cover room and board expenses, it offers the CCSP and SOURCE waiver programs to help seniors cover the cost of care in assisted living communities and personal care homes, including the services provided in memory care units.

Reporting Abuse

Family members or anyone with concerns about resident neglect or abuse in an assisted living community or personal care home should contact the Department of Community Health’s Healthcare Facility Regulation division at 800-878-6442. Concerns and complaints may also be submitted online by filling out a protective services report.

III. Free Memory Care Resources in Georgia

ResourceContactDescription
Georgia Alzheimer’s & Related Dementias Task Force (GARD)Contact Aline Stone at [email protected]GARD is a multidisciplinary group focused on promoting brain health and the early detection of dementia. Some of its goals include improvements in research, awareness, training and making care resources accessible.
Dementia Friends GeorgiaContact Aline Stone at [email protected]Dementia Friends is a social action movement that seeks to educate the public about dementia and encourage the creation of dementia-friendly communities. The program also provides mini-grants to fund dementia-friendly efforts in communities across the state.
Alzheimer’s Association Georgia Chapter800-272-3900The Georgia Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association provides educational resources and support services to seniors living with dementia and their families. The organization also supports funding and research efforts in the understanding and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.
Georgia Memory Net404-727-1568Georgia Memory Net is a statewide program that offers tools for screening and early diagnosis of dementia. The program also helps determine the appropriate treatment for seniors’ cognitive conditions and provides access to long-term support services.