Memory Care in South Carolina |

Memory Care in South Carolina

Over 6 million seniors across the United States are living with Alzheimer’s disease, with 95,000 of them residing in South Carolina. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, this number is expected to increase 26.3% to 120,000 by 2025. Deaths from the disease have increased 165.8% since 2000, indicating the need for memory care support and therapy.

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 South Carolina, financial assistance options for paying for memory care, free memory care resources in the state, and a directory of memory care facilities in South Carolina.

The Cost of Memory Care in South Carolina

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.

Because there is currently no official data on the cost of memory care in the United States, we added 25% to the 2021 Genworth Cost of Care Survey’s assisted living costs to determine the average fee schedule.

In South Carolina, the average cost of memory care is around $4,515 per month. Of the neighboring states, Georgia has the lowest memory care costs at $4,419 per month. North Carolina seniors pay around $5,013, and Tennessee residents have the highest average cost at $5,131.

Memory care costs vary depending on where you are located within the state. In South Carolina, memory care ranges from $3,329 in Sumter to $5,625 in Hilton Head. In the northwest in Greenville and Spartanburg, residents pay around $4,679 and $4,500, respectively. Near the center of the state in Columbia, memory care is around $4,088 per month and to the east in Florence, seniors pay approximately $4,320. 

South Carolina Medicaid Programs for Memory Care

Also referred to as Healthy Connections, South Carolina Medicaid is a medical assistance program that helps low-income seniors and individuals pay for medical bills. It also helps seniors cover the cost of assisted living and memory care indirectly through the Community CHOICES Waiver and the Community Supports Waiver.

Community CHOICES Waiver

The Community CHOICES Waiver is also referred to as the Elderly and Disabled Waiver. This helps seniors pay for personal care services, including housekeeping, grooming, bathing, toileting, meals, transportation and medication management in an assisted living community rather than in a nursing home. In addition to personal care, the waiver may also cover medical equipment and supplies.

  • Who is Eligible: Eligible seniors must be aged 65 and older or 18 and older with a disability, require a nursing facility level of care and meet Medicaid income and asset limits.
  • How to Apply: To apply for the CHOICES waiver, seniors should contact their local Department of Health and Human Services. (SCDHHS).

Community Supports (CS)

The CS waiver helps pay for a variety of long-term care services, including personal care, case management, assistive technologies, transportation, personal emergency response systems and private vehicle modifications.

Who Is Eligible: Individuals who qualify must have an intellectual or related disability and must require a nursing home level of care. Individuals must meet current income and asset limits.

How to Apply: To apply for the CS waiver, individuals must contact a caseworker through the South Carolina Department of Disabilities and Special Needs at 1-800-289-7012. The caseworker can assist with the application process.

Medicaid Eligibility for Seniors in South Carolina

Medicaid applicants in South Carolina must meet specific financial requirements to be eligible for benefits. The income for a single applicant must not exceed $30,276. The asset limit is $2,000 for a single applicant and $4,000 for couples. In a two-person household, the asset limit is $2,000 for the applicant and $66,480 for the non-applicant. The non-applicant may also receive an additional Minimum Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowance (MMMNA) to ensure bills are paid and they don’t experience financial difficulties. This MMMNA is covered under the spousal impoverishment rule.

2022 Medicaid Income Limits for Seniors in South Carolina

family sizeannual income limitsasset limits
Single Person$30,276$2,000
Two-Person Household (Single Applicant)$30,276$2,000 for applicant
Two-Person Household (Dual Applicants)$60,552 or $30,276 each$4,000

Aside from income and asset limits, seniors must meet several additional requirements to be eligible for Medicaid.

  • Must be a resident of South Carolina
  • Must be age 65 and older, blind or disabled
  • Must require nursing home level of care

How to Get Help Applying for Medicaid in South Carolina

Help is provided to seniors in South Carolina who need additional information on Medicaid and its different plan options. This information is offered for free by the following government sites.

resourcecontactdescription is a starting point for government benefits by state, category and agency. The site offers eligibility and contact information for state Medicaid and additional financial assistance, as well as answers to administrative questions.
Healthy Connections877-552-4642Health Connections is South Carolina’s government benefits website. Seniors can make health plan selections, choose a doctor, review and update plan information and compare the available health plans. Individuals can also locate meetings in their area to learn more about coverage options and watch videos online that provide additional information.
GetCareSC800-868-9095GetCareSC is provided by the SC Department on Aging to provide a variety of services to seniors, including insurance counseling through the State Health insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). SHIP counseling is completely free and funded by federal agencies.

Can You Use Medicare to Pay for Memory Care in South Carolina?

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 South Carolina

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 South Carolina

Memory Care Regulation

In South Carolina, memory care services are provided in community residential care facilities, also called assisted living facilities, and in Alzheimer's special care units or programs. These facilities are licensed by the South Carolina Board of Health and Environmental Control to provide room, board, and personal care to two or more adults who aren't related to the facility's owner. They are required to comply with licensing standards by maintaining continuous licensing, adhering to the number of beds they're licensed for and complying with local, state and federal laws, codes and regulations.

Inspections of the facility are conducted prior to initial licensing, and all facilities are subject to inspections and investigations at random and without notice.

Facility Scope of Care

Memory care facilities provide living accommodations and personal care services. Core services provided by these facilities include housekeeping services; assistance with daily living activities, such as walking, bathing, dressing, and eating; medication assistance; and transportation to medical appointments.

Facilities are also required to provide three meals plus snacks daily, with no more than 14 hours elapsing between the evening meal and breakfast the next day. If special diets are accommodated, menus must be prepared by professionally qualified dietitians or reviewed by a physician or another qualified medical provider.

Admissions Requirements

Memory care facilities in South Carolina may admit residents with varying abilities and care needs, but there are some restrictions. The table below provides an outline of those who may and may not be admitted.

Residents Who May Be Admitted

Adults aged 18 and over with:

  • Alzheimer's disease or dementia
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Mental health conditions
  • Physical disabilities

Residents Who May NOT Be Admitted

Those who:

  • Have care needs that the facility cannot meet
  • Display aggression, violence or socially inappropriate behaviors
  • Pose a danger to themselves or others
  • Have medications that require frequent dosage adjustments
  • Require a feeding tube
  • Require assistance with all activities of daily living for longer than a 14-day period

Care Plan Requirements

A direct-care staff member must assess a resident's needs within 72 hours after admission. This assessment must include an evaluation of the nature and extent of the resident's needs and confirmation that the facility can adequately meet those needs.

Within seven days of admission, the facility must develop an individualized care plan that outlines the resident's needs, including how many daily living activities they need assistance with, requirements and arrangements for visits by or to an authorized healthcare provider, advanced care directives, dietary needs and what recreational and social activities are suitable and desirable for the resident's well-being.

Medication Management Requirements

Facility staff members may administer routine medications, including medications required for diabetes and conditions associated with anaphylactic reactions, as long as they are trained to do so by someone who is licensed to administer medications. A staff member who is a licensed nurse may administer flu shots and B-12 injections and perform tuberculin skin tests. Staff members may monitor blood sugar levels, but the provision of sliding scale insulin injections by staff members is not allowed.

Residents' medications that they are taking when admitted to the facility must be in their original labeled containers. Self-administering medications is permitted with specific written orders of a physician or an authorized healthcare provider, which must be obtained on a semi-annual basis. Alternately, the facility must confirm that the resident is still capable of self-administering medication on a quarterly basis. Facilities may prohibit self-administration at their discretion.

Facility Requirements

Apartment-style units and private bathrooms are not required. No more than three residents may share a room, and there must be at least one toilet and sink for every six residents and one tub or shower for every eight residents.

Staffing Requirements

Each memory care facility must have a designated licensed administrator, a recreational program staff member and an extensively trained or experienced staff member available at all times who can take appropriate action in the event of an emergency, injury or illness. Facilities that accommodate Medicaid-eligible residents must contract with a licensed nurse at least one day per week. This nurse is responsible for providing staff training and care plan monitoring for those receiving services through Medicaid.

The number of staff members is determined by the number of residents and their care needs. In Alzheimer's special care units, there must be one awake staff member for every eight residents at all times. In multilevel facilities with more than 10 residents, there must be staff members on each floor at all times when residents are present. There must be enough staff members and volunteers at all times to provide supervision, direct care and basic services for memory care residents, even if this exceeds the state's minimum staffing requirements.

Medicaid Policy

Personal care services in assisted living and memory care facilities are covered by South Carolina's Medicaid State Plan. Services may also be covered under one of two waiver programs, including the Community Choices Waiver and the Community Supports Waiver.

Reporting Abuse

Assisted living facilities are required to report confirmed or suspected cases of abuse, exploitation or neglect to the South Carolina Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program. Anyone else who has a concern or complaint regarding the quality of treatment or care can also contact the ombudsman at 1-800-868-9095.

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Free Memory Care Resources in South Carolina

Memory care patients in South Carolina can find many public and private organizations that assist with Alzheimer's and memory care issues. Some of these resources also address issues including transportation, nutrition, elder rights and new treatment methods.

Alzheimer’s Resource Coordination Center803-734-9900ARCC is located within the South Carolina Department of Aging and serves as a resource for education, training and referral services.
The ARK of South Carolina843-471-1360The ARK provides support for families affected by Alzheimer's through adult respite care, support groups, caregiver consultations and educational programs, as well as free memory screenings.
Alzheimer’s Association South Carolina Chapter800-272-3900The South Carolina chapter of the Alzheimer's Association provides support services and funds research efforts to enhance the lives of individuals and families affected by Alzheimer's.
Memory Matters843-842-6688Memory Matters provides programs and services for those with dementia, as well as their family members and caregivers, including adult day health care, support groups and caregiver resources.
NAMI Greenville864-331-3300NAMI Greenville is a nonprofit organization that provides support, advocacy and educational courses for friends and families of people with serious mental illnesses.
South Carolina Long-Term Care Ombudsman800-868-9095The South Carolina long-term care ombudsman helps resolve complaints against long-term care facilities made by residents and their loved ones or caregivers. The ombudsman helps seniors navigate their long-term care choices, assists residents with concerns about the quality of care and helps educate seniors about elder rights.

South Carolina COVID-19 Rules for Memory Care Facilities

Note: The following information was compiled and most recently updated on 2/2/2022. 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?No (Conditions Apply)
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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