Memory Care in Massachusetts |

Memory Care in Massachusetts

Despite Massachusetts having among the lowest Alzheimer's mortality rates in the country, figures show the disease still accounted for the passing of 1,663 residents in 2019, making it the state's sixth-leading cause of death. The loss of life associated with Alzheimer's is likely to increase. The most recent analyses from the Alzheimer's Association project the number of Massachusetts seniors with the condition to rise from 130,000 in 2020 to 150,000 by 2025, a 15.4% surge in only 5 years.

Memory care facilities provide those living with Alzheimer’s and dementia with care that is tailored to their unique needs. Memory care can take place in its own facility, or as part of a designated wing of another residential care community. Staff members of memory care units or facilities undergo specialized training in caring for those with memory impairment, and the facilities often coordinate social activities and schedules specifically for the needs of those living with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

This guide will cover the cost of memory care in Massachusetts, financial assistance options for paying for memory care, free memory care resources in the state, and a directory of memory care facilities in Massachusetts.

The Cost of Memory Care in Massachusetts

When figuring out how to pay for memory care, you first need to understand how much it will cost for your loved one to move to a quality community. As costs continue to rise, it's vital to have the latest details when planning for elderly care costs. In order to shed light on the impact of inflation on senior living costs, has gathered cost information from its network of over 75,000 senior living communities. These prices are based on the cost of Memory Care in Massachusetts and 39 other cities in Massachusetts.

How Inflation Has Impacted the Cost of Memory Care in Massachusetts

Looking at memory care costs for Massachusetts and surrounding states shows interesting trends. Massachusetts saw a 2% increase from 2022 to 2023. National rates increased by 10.5% to $5,369 and are expected to rise again to $5,792 by 2024. Meanwhile, Connecticut saw a decrease of 1%. Other states, however, increased by varying rates. Rhode Island witnessed a 22% uptick, New Hampshire 12.5% and New York 23%. 

Projected increases for 2024 show another small increase for Massachusetts by 1% to $7,782. Even though the increases are relatively small, it's still important to plan for the higher costs.

Location2022 Cost (Historical)2023 Cost (Current)2024 Cost (Estimated)
U.S. Average$4,863$5,369$5,792
Rhode Island$6,008$7,307$7,782
New Hampshire$6,364$7,169$7,635
New York$5,244$6,449$6,416

Memory Care Costs in Massachusetts's Top Cities

Memory care costs in Massachusetts span a wide range in different cities. Boston is one of the more affordable options at $6,295 monthly. Many other major cities come in higher than the state average, including Newton at $8,490. Worcester at $12,000 per month and Plymouth at $11,850 per month are significantly more than average for Massachusetts. Choosing a location within the state can have a major impact on senior living costs.

The Cost of Other Types of Senior Living

Care options in Massachusetts vary in price and included services. Independent living for seniors who don't need support but want a community typically costs $3,506 a month. For older adults who need some support with daily tasks, assisted living could be an option and runs about $5,599. Seniors with dementia who need a secure environment and specialized care can expect to pay $7,706 for memory care. Comparing services, amenities and costs can help seniors choose.

Massachusetts Medicaid Programs for Memory Care

Medicaid in Massachusetts is known as MassHealth. Of the six coverage types available, MassHealth Standard applies to low-income state residents aged 65 and older whose medical needs justify long-term care in residential facilities. Those residing in a memory care community may be eligible for the Group Adult Foster Care waiver and SSI-G.

Group Adult Foster Care and SSI-G

Group Adult Foster Care is a waiver program that covers some costs for seniors who satisfy its medical and financial criteria and reside in MassHealth-certified facilities. It pays for personal care services, administration of medications, housekeeping and transportation but doesn't pay room-and-board costs. However, seniors in receipt of SSI may be eligible for SSI-G, an assisted living benefit that does pay for room and board in qualifying facilities.

Who Is Eligible

To be eligible, the applicant must:

  • Be unable to perform at least one daily living task without assistance, such as bathing or dressing
  • Provide confirmation of medical needs from a licensed doctor
  • Have an income and assets that are within the waiver's financial constraints

How To Apply

There are several ways seniors can apply for the waiver:

  • By mail: Download and post a completed copy of the application form to MassHealth Enrollment Center, Central Processing Unit, P.O. Box 290754, Charlestown, MA 02129-0214.
  • By fax: Send a completed application form to 617-887-8799.
  • In person: Schedule an appointment with a MassHealth representative at the nearest enrollment center.

Medicaid Eligibility for Seniors in Massachusetts

The applicant's financial situation determines their eligibility for Medicaid in Massachusetts. The annual income limit of $2,523 applies to all applicants, but asset limits are determined by the household environment. For residents of single-person households, it's $2,000. For single applicants in two-person households, it's also $2,000, but the non-applicant's assets also factor, and they can't exceed $137,400. When both residents of a two-person household apply for Medicaid, their assets shouldn't be more than $2,523 each, or their application will likely be rejected.

2022 Medicaid Income Limits for Seniors in Massachusetts

family sizeannual income limitsasset limits
Single Person$2,523$2,000
Two-Person Household (Single Applicant)$2,523 for applicant$2,000 for applicant & $137,400 for non-applicant
Two-Person Household (Dual Applicants)$2,523 per applicant$2,523 per applicant

In addition to having income and assets that fall within the guidelines, Medicaid applicants must also satisfy other criteria. They include:

  • Being 65 years old or more
  • Residing in Massachusetts
  • Being a U.S. citizen or legal resident
  • Having a medical condition that requires nursing home levels of care

How to Get Help Applying for Medicaid in Massachusetts

Applying for aid can confuse some seniors due to Medicaid's options for various vulnerable groups and sometimes complicated eligibility criteria. Fortunately, there are organizations with advisors and counselors dedicated to making the process easier for applicants. 

Volunteer Lawyers Project of Boston800-342-5297The Volunteer Lawyers Project of Boston is a team of attorneys, paralegals and others who have been providing seniors throughout Massachusetts with free legal advice and support for more than 40 years. The organization only handles civil law cases, including representing seniors denied Medicaid. If an applicant isn't eligible for free assistance, the organization can refer them to law firms that charge fees based on the senior's ability to pay.
MassHealth Customer Service Center800-841-2900The MassHealth Customer Service Center is a self-service information line open 24/7, with English and Spanish language options. Alternatively, seniors can call on weekdays during normal working hours when the services of interpreters are also available. The Center's staff can provide up-to-date information about Medicaid and guide seniors through the application process.
American Council on AgingOnlineThe American Council on Aging is a website built by Medicaid experts from across the country for seniors who prefer to conduct their own research. It includes detailed and current info about Medicaid in Massachusetts. It also offers some tools to help visitors determine if they're eligible, as well as how to spend down their assets if they exceed MassHealth limits.

Can You Use Medicare to Pay for Memory Care in Massachusetts?

Unfortunately, Medicare does not generally cover the cost of Memory Care. Most Memory Care Facilities are considered to be "social settings," so Medicare does not cover the cost incurred in these facilities. The only exception to that is if you are receiving memory care services in a Nursing Home. While this situation is much less common, Medicare would sometimes cover the cost, depending on a number of circumstances.

That being said, Medicare does still cover qualified doctor visits, medications, etc., as it would if you were still at home, but it will not cover the cost of care received at the Memory Care Facility.

More Ways to Pay for Memory Care in Massachusetts

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
  • 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.
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Memory Care Laws and Regulations in Massachusetts

Memory Care Regulation

Massachusetts regulations regarding care facilities for the elderly or those with memory impairments fall under the aegis of the Executive Office of Elder Affairs. Assisted living residences are certified rather than licensed in Massachusetts. Certification is obtained through this office after an initial compliance inspection. Recertification requires an additional inspection that must occur at least once every two years.

To qualify as a dementia facility or one that offers specialized care, organizations must meet all the general requirements of an ALR and have secured entry and exit doors. They must provide detailed descriptions of the physical makeup of the facility and a list of safety features designed to minimize risks to residents with cognitive impairments.

Facility Scope of Care

In special care units, ALRs provide standard levels of care and assistance with the activities of daily living along with specialized care. An ALR may not offer round-the-clock nursing care or advanced nursing services, even through a third-party service, unless the need for constant care is expected to last for 90-days or less. The only exception to the rule is hospice care provided in-house, as this is generally of limited duration. In general, an ALR may contract with a licensed third-party service provider to offer intermittent nursing care for residents who require an intermediate level of care.

Some of the services expected in dementia care units include:

  • Assistance with the activities of daily living
  • Assistance with instrumental activities of daily living
  • Meals and snacks provided per approved nutrition plans
  • Medication management
  • 24/7 awake staff to assist with residents who have alternative schedules
  • Daily planned activities that provide stimulation for gross motor control, self-care opportunities, social events, and sensory and memory stimulating activities

Admissions Requirements

Not every senior is a good fit for the special care wing of an ALR. Here is a brief look at which seniors might be admitted and reasons why a senior may need to seek alternative care options:

Residents Who May Be Admitted

Adults of any age diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another dementia disorder and elderly persons aged 55 or older with:

Residents Who May Be Admitted Older adults and people with:

  • Dementia or other cognitive impairments
  • Mental health disorders
  • Developmental disabilities
  • Mobility challenges

Residents Who May NOT Be Admitted Those who:

  • Need constant access to skilled nursing care
  • Are expected to need nursing care for more than 90 days

Care Plan Requirements

Before accepting a new resident, an ALR must perform an assessment and develop a care plan that ensures the facility can meet the resident’s needs. If the facility determines it can, it must work with a health care provider and use their recent assessment of the resident to come up with a comprehensive service plan. All service plans must include information about the individual’s current diagnosis, medications, allergies, dietary needs, level of assistance required in an emergency, any history of psychosocial issues, ability to self-manage medications and the level of personal care required. Within 30 days of admission, the facility must review the care plan and make any necessary adjustments. A review is also required every time the resident’s condition changes or at least every six months.

Medication Management Requirements

Staff who have completed personal care service training may assist with the management of self-administered medications. This may include opening containers, reading labels to residents, reminding them to take medications and observing residents as they take medicine. Direct medication administration may also be available as an optional service. Medication administration may only be provided by a medical practitioner or registered or licensed nurse. A nurse can only administer medications directly from the pharmacy with all labeling intact and as prescribed.

Facility Requirements

ALRs offering dementia care must have secured entry and exit doors. An ALR must provide private or semiprivate rooms that have lockable doors. Newly constructed ALRs must provide a private bathroom for every unit. Older ALRs may offer a half-bath for each unit and a bathing facility for every three residents. Each ALR unit must contain a kitchenette or access to a refrigerator, sink and heating element, though the use of these facilities may be restricted or monitored.

Staffing Requirements

Any staff member employed by an ALR that has direct contact with residents, including all food service employees, must complete a seven-hour orientation before starting work. Staff planning to work in a special care unit must participate in an additional seven hours of training specific to the care needs of the special resident population. Any employee providing personal care services must complete an extra hour of orientation training dedicated to self-administered medications. All ALFs must have a manager and/or service coordinator. These employees complete two hours of training specific to dementia care. Personal care staff must also complete at least 54 hours of training. Licensed nurses, CNAs, certified home health aides and qualified personal care homemakers are exempt from this requirement. Those who need additional training must complete 20 hours of training with a registered nurse.

Each year, staff must complete at least 10 hours of ongoing education, with at least two of those hours devoted to care for Alzheimer’s patients. For those who work in the special care unit must complete an additional four hours of specialized training in caring and communicating with those who have Alzheimer’s or other dementias.

Medicaid Policy

MassHealth Standard does not cover room and board costs associated with ALRs. However, some Medicaid waiver programs may offer financial assistance with in-home health services and personal care that may apply to those costs. Massachusetts also offers a supplement to Social Security to help with the room and board costs of assisted living.

Reporting Abuse

Seniors and their family members can report abuse at an assisted living residence to the Executive Office of Elder Affairs online or by mail.

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Free and Low-Cost Resources for Seniors in Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, there is an abundance of resources designed to assist seniors throughout their retirement. has compiled information on a range of local organizations, programs, and agencies, categorizing them based on the care services they offer for easy browsing.

Area Agency on Aging

The Area Agency on Aging in is a crucial asset for retired individuals, providing advice on financial assistance, home-based care, and planning for extended care. It also connects seniors and their caregivers with local resources.

Massachusetts Area Agencies on AgingMassachusetts is home to several Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) that provide essential support services to older adults. These agencies help seniors access local programs for their daily needs, including caregiver assistance, transportation services, meal programs, and health and wellness resources. AAAs also play a vital role in preventing elder abuse and fraud, empowering seniors to live safe and dignified lives.

Food Assistance Programs

In Massachusetts, numerous community programs focus on enhancing the health of seniors via proper diet. These initiatives provide meal delivery, shared meals, and food bank services, guaranteeing that older citizens can obtain reasonably priced, healthy food.

Massachusetts Meals on WheelsMassachusetts Meals on Wheels serves approximately 30,000 meals daily to seniors in the state. Meals can be delivered to their homes or enjoyed as congregate meals in the community. Local and regional programs are managed by over 20 agencies. Eligibility is open to seniors who face challenges in meal preparation. Costs are determined based on a sliding scale.
Massachusetts Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)877-382-2363The Department of Transitional Assistance manages the Massachusetts Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for seniors. It provides monthly funds on an electronic benefits card to support their food budget. Eligibility requires proof of residency, Social Security number or similar documentation, and proof of income, including veteran's benefits and Social Security payments. Seniors enrolled in SNAP can also receive cash back on their EBT cards by purchasing local produce through the Healthy Incentives Program.
Massachusetts The Charity Guild Food Pantry508-583-5280The Charity Guild Food Pantry in Brockton offers perishable and nonperishable food to seniors, families, and individuals in need. As a part of The Greater Boston Food Bank, the pantry is open to everyone, regardless of their location. Seniors can visit the pantry on select days, and homebound individuals can arrange for food parcels to be delivered.

Free Used Medical Equipment

In Massachusetts, several organizations are tackling the high cost of new medical devices. They collect lightly used equipment such as wheelchairs, ramps, and walkers, distributing them to local elderly and those requiring assistance.

Easterseals Massachusetts Long-Term Device Loan Program800-244-2756Easterseals Massachusetts provides a device loan program for low-income individuals who need medical equipment for home use. This service offers assistive technology like phones with large tactile buttons, wrist-cuff blood pressure monitors, and screen reading devices. It's a long-term solution for those who cannot afford these devices, ensuring accessibility and independence.
Massachusetts Compassionate Care ALS508-444-6775Compassionate Care ALS is a nonprofit organization committed to aiding individuals diagnosed with ALS. In addition to providing support services, the organization offers a variety of new and gently used equipment, including voice amplifiers, speech communication devices, and wheelchairs, to improve the quality of life for those impacted by ALS.
Massachusetts Hospital Equipment Loan Program781-322-1052The Hospital Equipment Loan Program provides seniors with free loans of medical equipment for home use. A variety of devices, such as electric lift chairs, exercise bikes, rollators, and under mattress supports, can be requested, based on availability and donations.
Massachusetts REquipment Inc.800-261-9841REquipment is an online platform connecting people with reconditioned mobility items, accessibility aids, and assistive technology. Conveniently reserve equipment online or by phone. All items are free, with delivery or pickup options for a small fee.

Health Insurance & Prescription Drug Coverage for Seniors

Elderly residents of Massachusetts with certain income brackets have access to local aid for prescription medication expenses. They might also be eligible for health coverage and other programs providing complimentary or reduced-cost healthcare services.

Massachusetts ConnectorCareConnectorCare plans are available for individuals with incomes below 300% of the federal poverty level. It's crucial to find a plan that covers your medical and prescription needs, as several insurers offer ConnectorCare plans.

Home Repair and Modifications

In Massachusetts, a variety of programs exist to support seniors and those with disabilities in funding home improvements and repairs. These initiatives, providing grants or loans, feature different eligibility criteria tailored for retired individuals.

Massachusetts Home Modification Loan Program (HMLP)866-500-5599The Home Modification Loan Program provides interest-free loans to older residents, allowing them to personalize their homes based on their needs. Repayment is made when the property is sold or the title deed is transferred.
Massachusetts Weatherization Assistance Programhe Weatherization Assistance Program improves energy efficiency and safety in seniors' homes, reducing utility expenses. It enhances insulation and addresses potential hazards, creating comfortable and secure living spaces for seniors.

Senior Centers

In Massachusetts, elderly individuals find a community hub in senior centers, offering a range of recreational pursuits, events, and essential resources. These centers also provide health programs, dietary advice, and support for issues related to senior living.

Massachusetts Councils on Aging413-527-6425In Massachusetts, seniors can benefit from the support of 350 Councils on Aging and Senior Centers. These centers offer a range of services, such as transportation, meals, outreach, and companionship. Qualified seniors living at home can access these services, many of which are provided free of charge.

Senior Engagement

In Massachusetts, numerous initiatives are in place to keep seniors involved and energetic. These encompass health programs, opportunities for volunteer work, and supportive communities, all designed to promote social participation and improve the quality of life.

Massachusetts North Shore Community College Tuition Waivers978-762-4000Massachusetts residents aged 60 and above are eligible for a tuition waiver at local educational institutions. North Shore Community College offers a variety of in-person and online courses for seniors to choose from. Please be aware that course fees still apply.
Massachusetts Worcester State University Categorical Tuition Waiver508-929-8051Massachusetts residents aged 60 and above can enjoy tuition-free public university classes. However, some classes may not be included, and additional campus and class fees may be applicable. To verify availability, kindly contact the bursar's office of the respective college.

Social Security Offices

In Massachusetts, Social Security offices are crucial resources for the elderly and those with disabilities. They provide advice on retirement perks, disability benefits, and additional security income.

Massachusetts Social SecuritySocial Security offers financial support to retirees and those unable to work due to disability. It is funded through payroll taxes paid by employers, employees, and self-employed individuals. Monthly payments during retirement are based on past earnings.

Tax Assistance

In Massachusetts, a variety of tax assistance options exist for seniors and people with disabilities. These encompass possible medical cost exemptions, property tax cuts, and other tax alleviation measures.

Massachusetts Age 65 or Over Exemption800-392-6089The exemption amount for a single adult is $700. If both members of a married couple are 65 or older before the tax year ends, they may each qualify for a $700 exemption.

Utility & Energy Bill Assistance

In Massachusetts, there are establishments ready to assist seniors with limited income facing challenges with home upkeep expenses, such as energy and utility bills. Emergency financial support might be available for individuals threatened with utility disconnection due to outstanding payments.

Massachusetts Fuel Assistance Programs617-573-1100Massachusetts Fuel Assistance Programs offer aid to seniors for home heating costs during cold winters. Qualified residents receiving SNAP or low-income benefits can apply for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and receive reduced utility rates. LIHEAP applications open on October 1. Seniors may also be eligible for emergency funding from the Salvation Army Good Neighbor Fund or Joe-4-Oil.
Massachusetts Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)617-573-1100The Massachusetts Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) assists eligible seniors in covering their home heating expenses. To be eligible, residents must have income at or below 60% of the estimated state median income. Applications can be submitted online from October 1 or in person at local LIHEAP agencies. Required documents include a photo ID, a household member list, income proof, and a heating bill copy.

Veteran's Services

In Massachusetts, retired military personnel can find essential support through local veteran services. These organizations help veterans access their deserved benefits and offer advice on a variety of issues.

Massachusetts VA Benefits and Health CareMassachusetts VA Benefits and Health Care offers medical care and practical assistance for senior veterans, while also managing three national cemeteries. Medical treatment is provided at four medical centers in Brockton, Leeds, Jamaica Plain, and West Roxbury, including the Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital. Community-based outpatient clinics are available for additional medical care. Seniors can also access financial assistance and community supports through seven vet centers.

Massachusetts COVID-19 Rules for Memory Care Facilities

Note: The following information was compiled and most recently updated on 2/8/2022. Since COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving crisis, be sure to contact your Memory Care Facility or local Area Agency on Aging for the most up-to-date information.

Am I allowed to visit my loved one in person?Yes (Conditions Apply)
Is my loved one required to quarantine after I visit him or her?No
Am I required to wear a mask if I visit my loved one in person?Yes
Are visitors screened for elevated temperatures?Yes
Are residents allowed to leave the facility at-will?Yes
Are residents of senior living facilities who leave required to quarantine when they get back?Not Available*
Are staff members and contractors checked for elevated temperatures?Yes
Are staff members and contractors tested for COVID-19?Yes (Conditions Apply)
Do staff members have to regularly screen residents for COVID-19 symptoms?Yes
Do staff members have to regularly check residents for elevated temperatures?Yes
Do staff members have to regularly test residents for COVID-19?Yes (Conditions Apply)
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