I. Paying for Memory Care in Mississippi

The Cost of Memory Care in Mississippi

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.

Assisted living facilities in Mississippi cost an average of $3,524 per month, according to the Genworth Cost of Care Survey 2019, which is relatively affordable compared to the national average of $4,051. After adding the expected cost of memory care services — approximately 25% above that of assisted living — the average cost in the state is $4,405 per month.

Jackson is the most expensive area for assisted living in Mississippi, with an average monthly cost of $4,163. Hattiesburg and Gulfport are much more affordable and in line with the statewide average at $3,575 and $3,650 per month, respectively. The cost is substantially lower just across the border in Alabama, with monthly averages of $2,909 per month in Tuscaloosa and $3,200 in Mobile.

   

Mississippi Medicaid Programs for Memory Care

Assisted Living Waiver

Mississippi residents may be eligible for the Assisted Living Waiver, which allows the state Medicaid program to pay for care received in an assisted living facility. This type of facility is licensed by the state as a Personal Care Home – Assisted Living (PCH-AL), and many of them provide specialized memory care services and accommodation. The waiver covers services received in assisted living, such as personal care, medication oversight and temporary skilled nursing, but it does not cover the cost of room and board.

  • Who is Eligible: Applicants must be aged 21 or older and a resident of Mississippi. They must be eligible for Medicaid based on their status as a recipient of Social Security Income payments or below 300% of the federal benefit rate in monthly income, which creates an income limit of $2,349 per month for an individual as of 2020. Applicants are assessed on their health and need for services, such as the number of activities of daily living they need help with and their cognitive deficits.
  • How to Apply: Mississippi’s Division of Medicaid website has more information and an online application form, as well as directions for postal and in-person applications. Residents can also call the Office of Eligibility at 800-421-2408.

Elderly and Disabled Waiver

This program provides an additional pathway for seniors and caregivers who would benefit from many of the same home and community-based services available via the Assisted Living Waiver. These services include short-term respite care in a facility, meal delivery, physical and speech therapy. As such, this waiver is generally more useful in the early stage of memory loss.

  • Who is Eligible: Applicants must be at least 21 years old and a resident of Mississippi. They must be assessed by a registered nurse and a social worker who will then determine the applicant’s need; this assessment must conclude that the applicant requires waiver services to avoid nursing home placement. They must also qualify for Medicaid via SSI or have an income at or below 300% of the federal benefit rate.
  • How to Apply: Call the Mississippi Access to Care Network helpline at 844-822-4622 for help with this waiver or apply in person at local MAC Centers around the state.

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 Mississippi

Memory Care Regulation

Assisted living facilities that provide memory care are categorized as personal care homes, which are licensed and regulated by the Mississippi State Department of Health. The state sets minimum standards of operation and ensures that facilities are certified for Medicaid and Medicare programs, and in compliance with federal standards. Licensed facilities receive regular inspections and evaluations from the state.

Personal care homes that are exclusive to memory care, or have a separate wing for this purpose, must follow additional rules and regulations. These facilities are designated as having an Alzheimer’s Disease/Dementia Care Unit (A/D Unit), and this term will be included in its certificate of licensure.

Facility Scope of Care

Personal care homes must provide food, shelter, basic housekeeping and laundry services. These facilities must also assist residents in performing their activities of daily living (ADLs), such as assistance with walking, transferring to and from a wheelchair and other mobility issues, as well as eating, grooming and hygiene. Residents must be provided with daily therapeutic activities, such as those focused on memory, exercise and other research-based methods of improving the quality of life for people with cognitive issues.

Personal care homes must also provide:

  • Varied leisure activities appropriate for different ages, cultures and lifestyles
  • Creative and spiritual pursuits
  • Small and large group activities
  • Transport for medical purposes

Admissions Requirements

Licensed facilities that are permitted to serve residents with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia can set their own requirements for admission, but there are some minimum standards in place. If a person has already been admitted and then becomes ineligible, they may be permitted to stay if consent is given and it’s approved by a physician.

Residents Who May Be AdmittedOlder adults and people who:

  • Require domiciliary care (e.g., assistance with ADLs)
  • Have Alzheimer’s or other dementia
  • Need nonmedical services and/or temporary skilled nursing
Residents Who May NOT Be AdmittedThose who need:

  • Long-term or permanent medical care
  • To be restrained and/or are a threat to self, others or facility
  • Assistance evacuating and/or descending stairs in an emergency if the facility doesn’t meet ANSI standards

Care Plan Requirements

Individuals who are being admitted to a personal care home in Mississippi must be medically assessed by a licensed physician. In the case of memory care, the individual must also be assessed by a licensed practitioner who is qualified to make determinations based on the individual’s cognitive and other abilities.

Care plans must be thorough, individualized and specific as to the desired treatment goals and outcomes. This plan should contain an itemized list of services and charges, including any additional costs that are expected, and must be reviewed quarterly for its effectiveness. Family members must be given a chance to be involved in the creation and updating of the care plan.

Medication Management Requirements

Staff must follow strict guidelines and controls to ensure the safekeeping and proper use of medication. All medication, prescription or otherwise, must be ordered by a physician and can only be administered by licensed personnel. Residents can self-administer with prompting and basic assistance from staff, unless otherwise indicated by a physician. Personal care homes that are licensed to serve residents with Alzheimer’s and dementia must have a secure area for the storage of medication for residents unable to self-administer.

Facility Requirements

Resident bedrooms can house a maximum of four people and must be at or above ground level and have an operable exterior window. An appropriate bed, clean linens and basic furniture must be provided, as well as storage space. Bedrooms must have at least 80 square feet of usable space per bed. Facilities must have a minimum ratio of 1:12 bathtubs or showers per resident and 1:6 toilets per resident for each floor. If laundry services aren’t provided for residents, they must have access to laundry facilities. Personal care homes with over 15 residents must have a Food Service Permit from the state.

Staffing Requirements

Personnel must be verified against the state abuse registry and receive a satisfactory criminal background check and health screening. There is a minimum ratio of 1:15 direct care employees per resident during the day and 1:25 at night, and all staff included in the count must be awake and on duty. In addition, a licensed nurse must be present for at least eight hours per day.

Facilities that offer memory care services must be able to provide a minimum of three hours per day of nursing care for each resident, and there must be a Registered Nurse or Licensed Practical Nurse on duty at all times. Personal care homes with a small Alzheimer’s unit must have at least two staff members on duty at all times, regardless of the number of residents.

Medicaid Policy

Mississippi Medicaid covers personal care and various other services received in assisted living facilities, but it doesn’t cover room and board. Medicaid members who are eligible for the waivers outlined in this guide can benefit from additional coverage. Personal care homes are regularly evaluated by the state to ensure that suitable care is provided to residents, in compliance with federal Medicaid regulations.

Reporting Abuse

The Mississippi State Department of Health is responsible for managing complaints about personal care homes and certain other facilities. Anyone can submit a report, and do so anonymously if they wish, by using the online complaint form or by calling 800-227-7308 during regular business hours.

III. Free Memory Care and Alzheimer's Resources in Mississippi

ResourceContactDescription
Alzheimer’s Association Mississippi Chapter800-272-3900This association provides educational programs and support groups, both online and in-person, and is an advocate for people with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers.
Alzheimer’s Mississippi601-987-0020Alzheimer’s Mississippi is a nonprofit that offers information, resources, care consultations and appropriate activities for people with dementia.
Mississippi Access to Care844-822-4622The MAC Network provides free information and advice on long-term care and state benefits, and performs eligibility screenings. Help is available in local MAC centers, by phone and in the home of seniors and caregivers.
State Health Insurance Assistance ProgramContact a local Area Agency on AgingSHIP is a free source of information, counseling and assistance for seniors applying for Medicaid, Medicare or other coverage.
Alzheimer’s and Dementia Caregiver Support Group601-984-5610The University of Mississippi Medical Center hosts educational support groups led by physicians, nurses and social workers to help caregivers understand memory loss and the current options available.