Among the 1.2 million adults aged 65 and older that reside in Massachusetts, according to the 2020 census, 130,000 are living with Alzheimer’s disease, and more are living with other forms of dementia. In 2018, Alzheimer’s led to the death of more than 1,800 people, making it the sixth-leading cause of death for seniors in the state. These numbers are expected to grow as the Baby Boomer generation reaches retirement age. Many seniors affected by Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia will improve their lives by moving into memory care, which costs an average of $8,125 per month. 

As more Massachusetts residents are affected by cognitive diseases, the need for memory care facilities will increase. Memory care facilities and specialized memory care units within assisted living communities offer 24-hour supervision and support within a secure environment. These facilities are complemented by world-class medical institutions, including the Massachusetts Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center.

Memory care can either be offered on its own in a community designed especially for those with dementia or Alzheimer’s, or, more often, it’s provided as a service in a separate wing of an assisted living facility. Memory care programs are designed specifically 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 covers the cost of memory care in Massachusetts, as well as options for paying for care within the state. It also contains links to resources that may be helpful to seniors and their families.

The Cost of Memory Care in Massachusetts

Note: There is no definitive cost information for memory care in Massachusetts or the United States as a whole. Memory care received in an assisted living facility or other long-term care community, and not in a nursing home or medical setting, typically costs 20-30% more than standard assisted living. To arrive at these estimates, we’ve used the assisted living costs listed in the Genworth 2021 Cost of Care Survey, with an additional 25% added.

At a median rate of $8,125 per month, Massachusetts has the second-highest memory care costs in New England. The most expensive prices can be found in Rhode Island, where seniors pay $8,533. Vermont and Connecticut have similar rates at $6,563 and $6,411, respectively, while New Hampshire’s rates are in the middle at $7,566. New York has the cheapest rates in the region at $5,725. All these states exceed the national average of $5,625 per month. 

$8125

Massachusetts

$5625

The United States

$7566

New Hampshire

$6411

Connecticut

$6563

Vermont

$8533

Rhode Island

$5725

New York

Massachusetts has a very wide range of memory care costs, with prices increasing from west to east. The least expensive city is Pittsfield, which has a monthly average of $2,605. The median price in Barnstable, which is on Cape Cod, is $8,750, making it the most expensive city in Massachusetts for memory care. Boston, the largest city in the state, has an average of $8,524. Springfield is near the border with Connecticut and has a median rate of $6,310 per month.

$8524

Boston

$8750

Barnstable

$7106

Worcester

$6310

Springfield

$2605

Pittsfield

Other than nursing homes, which cost an average of $12,623 for a semiprivate room and $15,535 for private accommodations, memory care is the most expensive type of senior care in Massachusetts. Adult day health care is the most affordable option at just $1,587 per month. Seniors who hire in-home care or home health care for 40 hours per week pay an average of $5,911 per month. Seniors who need help with daily living activities but don’t require memory care services may opt for an assisted living facility, which costs an average of $6,500 per month.

$1587

Adult Day Health Care

$6500

Assisted Living

$5911

Home Care

$5911

Home Health Care

$8125

Memory Care

$12623

Nursing Home (semiprivate)

$15535

Nursing Home (private)

Does Medicaid Cover Memory Care in Massachusetts?

Note: For the purposes of this guide, when we say “Memory Care” we are referring to memory care provided in a “social setting,” such as an Assisted Living Facility. This is the most common way to receive Memory Care and is the best fit for all but the frailest seniors. Sometimes the actual service of memory care can be provided in a Nursing Home (“medical setting”), so the financial assistance options will be very different. To learn more about the financial assistance options available for memory care provided in a nursing home, read our guide to Nursing Home Care in Massachusetts.

Massachusetts Medicaid system, or MassHealth, doesn’t directly cover the cost of memory care, but it does have waiver programs that may pay for support services provided in memory care facilities or special units within assisted living communities. These waiver programs offer all-inclusive care options, as well as funding for specific services related to cognitive impairments. While these waivers may help individuals who qualify for a nursing home level of care, they may not cover services inside an actual nursing facility or medical setting. 

What Memory Care Services Are Covered by Medicaid in Massachusetts?

MassHealth can pay for personal attendants who help those with cognitive impairments fulfill daily activities they are unable to complete on their own. All-inclusive programs can pay for memory care in conjunction with many other medical services your loved one needs to remain in the community. 

Memory Care Waiver Programs in Massachusetts

The following programs may help you pay for memory care at home or within a community setting, such as an assisted living facility with a memory care unit. These programs may have unique eligibility requirements separate from standard MassHealth. You can only participate in one waiver at a time. 

Program

Contact

Description

PACE covers memory care services, as well as personal care, therapies, congregate meals, social services and other specialty care, at PACE centers located in most parts of Massachusetts. You don't need to be eligible for MassHealth to participate in PACE, but you do need to be certified for nursing home care and able to live safely in the community. PACE is not available in the following counties: Barnstable, Berkshire, Dukes, Franklin, and Nantucket.

(800) 841-2900

PCA gives seniors with disabilities, including cognitive impairments, the funds to hire caregivers at their own homes or within community settings. While the recipients of PCA are intended to hire, train, schedule and fire their own personal care attendants, there are organizations throughout the state that can manage these activities for your loved one. 

(888) 885-0484

SCO is a Medicare-Medicaid partnership program that offers managed care to seniors within a network of providers, which can include specialized memory care units and other long-term care facilities. It covers specialized geriatric support services that are also available within MassHealth. Since this is a managed care program, there are no copayments for services. 

(855) 499-5109

MFP is available for current residents in nursing homes or other high-level medical settings who want to move back into the community. It can pay for the memory care services seniors need at home or in long-term care communities, so they can stay out of an institutional setting. MFP-RS funds assisted living services, home accessibility adaptations, orientation and mobility services, speech therapy, specialized medical equipment and more. 

How to Know if You’re Eligible for Medicaid in Massachusetts

The main criteria for Medicaid eligibility in Massachusetts are your income and assets. If you’re applying for benefits as an individual in a single household, you can’t earn more than $6,264 per year, and a married couple can’t earn more than $7,800 per year. The asset limit is $2,000 for a single applicant and $3,000 for a married couple. The maximum home equity you can have is $955,000. These figures are for MassHealth coverage for seniors who need long-term care services, not for a standard MassHealth plan. 

2022 Medicaid Income Limits for Seniors in Massachusetts



Income Limits* 

Asset Limits

Single Applicant

$6,264

$2,000 

Two-Person Household

(Only One Person Applying)

$7,800

$137,400

Two-Person Household
(Both People Applying)

$7,800

$3,000

*Per year

To qualify for MassHealth and its waivers, you must also demonstrate that you are:

  • Aged 65 or older or aged 60 to 64 with a disability
  • A resident of Massachusetts
  • In need of a nursing home level of care
  • In or ready to move into long-term care

How to Apply for Medicaid

You can apply for Medicaid by:

Information You Will Need

  • Social Security number
  • Proof of income and assets
  • Proof of residency and citizenship
  • Existing health insurance policy numbers

How to Get Help Applying for Medicaid

If you have any trouble applying for Medicaid on your own, the following programs may be able to help. 

Program

Contact

Services Provided

(800) 841-2900 

The MCSC can help you determine eligibility and apply for benefits. It can also replace lost cards and answer questions over the phone 24/7.

(800) 243-4636

The Serving the Health Insurance Needs of Everyone program aims to help low-income seniors with their benefits. The program is available to anyone on Medicare, and counseling services are free.

Online only

This online resource provides free information about Medicaid and is run by the federal government. You can use the site to see if you qualify for MassHealth and learn more about your benefits options.

Does Medicare Cover Memory Care in Massachusetts?

The short answer is that no, Medicare does not cover the cost of memory care in Massachusetts. As was mentioned above, this doesn’t apply to Memory Care received in a Nursing Home. Since it is the most common to receive memory care in a “social setting” (such as an assisted living facility), Medicare won’t be a viable financial assistance option for most seniors who need Memory Care. However, Medicare will still cover things like approved medications, doctor visits, medical equipment, etc., just like it would if you lived at home.

For more information about when Medicare can be used to pay for Memory Care in a nursing home, and for Medicare-related resources, see our guide to Nursing Homes in Massachusetts.

Other Financial Assistance Options for Memory Care in Massachusetts

Seniors who are not eligible (due to location, financial situation, or other factors) for other types of financial assistance, do still have some options. See the table below for an overview of some of the most common ways to make Memory Care affordable.

 

How to Apply

How It Works

Aid and Attendance

Learn more and apply online at va.gov.

Veterans who receive a VA pension may also be eligible for the Aid and Attendance benefit, a monthly cash allowance that veterans receive in addition to their standard pension amount. The benefit is intended for veterans in need of long-term care services and may be used towards paying for Memory Care.

Reverse Mortgages

Learn more about your options and how to apply at ftc.gov

If you own a home, you may be able to use a reverse mortgage to help pay for Memory Care. Reverse mortgages are loans that one can take out against the value of their home, essentially converting some of the home's equity into cash. Reverse mortgage loans do need to be repaid with interest, typically within 12 months of receiving the loan.

Long-Term Care (LTC) Insurance

Learn more about Long-Term Care Insurance and how to apply for a policy at acl.gov.

Seniors who already have long-term care insurance may be able to use it to pay for Memory Care. Most policies cover at least a portion of the cost, but it depends on the specific policy terms. Note that older adults who are already in need of Memory Care will not typically be eligible to sign up for a LTC insurance policy.

Free and Low-Cost Memory Care Resources in Massachusetts

Massachusetts has many public and private organizations that aim to help families dealing with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. These organizations can help you access memory care or provide support services at no or little cost. 

Resource

Contact

Service

(617) 727-7750

This program advocates for the rights and interests of seniors living in Massachusetts' long-term care settings, including memory care facilities and assisted living communities with memory care units. You can report abuse, neglect or other kinds of mistreatment to the program. Agents will then work to find a resolution and provide information to help you in the future. The ombudsman program has local contacts throughout the state that can provide help near you.

(617) 278-0600

This research center strives to give families dealing with Alzheimer's and other cognitive impairments the information and tools they need to live well. In addition to general information, it strives to improve medical outcomes through clinical and observational research. Your loved one may be able to improve their own situation and help others by participating. The center works in coordination with Harvard Medical School, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and many other world-renowned institutions.

(617) 210-5480

The state's Department of Veterans' Services doesn't directly fund memory care, but veterans and other eligible beneficiaries can call or visit the department for help with their federal pensions. They can also request help with Aid & Attendance, which can fund additional services within assisted living communities, including memory care. 

(800) 272-3900

The Alzheimer's Association provides a wealth of resources for families dealing with cognitive impairments. In 2021, the Massachusetts/New Hampshire chapter helped more than 12,655 people through a variety of conferences, programs and association-trained support groups. It also gave 3,833 care consultations to families at no cost. About 380,000 seniors in Massachusetts get care from association-approved dementia capable practices.

(617) 727‐7750

The Council on Aging helps families who may need memory care by providing home-delivered meals, health screening, local transportation and health insurance counseling. You can access programs operated by the state's Council on Aging by contacting an Aging Service Access Point (ASAP), Area Agency on Aging (AAA) or Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC). AAAs and ADRCs are run by the government, and ASAPs are operated by nonprofit organizations. 

COVID-19 Rules for Memory Care in Massachusetts

The following information is based on research done on several government websites, including mass.gov. These rules apply to nursing homes and other types of senior living facilities. We’ve most recently updated this data on 4/27/2022, but since COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving pandemic, contact your local senior living facility or Area Agency on Aging for more specific and up-to-date information.

Visitation Policies

Rules for Massachusetts Communities

Are loved ones allowed to visit to provide emotional support?

Yes (Conditions Apply)

Are relatives allowed to visit for end-of-life care?

Yes

Are residents required to quarantine after visiting with a loved one?

No

Are visitors required to wear PPE (including masks) in order to visit residents?

Yes

Are non-medical contractors (such as hairdressers and entertainers) allowed in senior living facilities?

Yes

Are visitors checked for elevated temperatures?

Yes

Are visitors required to answer questions about health, travel, and potential virus contact?

Yes

Outings & Social Activities

Rules for Massachusetts Communities

Are residents allowed to leave (errands, visiting family, etc.) for non-medical reasons?

Yes

Are residents who leave required to quarantine when they return?

Not Available*

Are senior living communities required to cancel all group outings?

No

Are residents allowed to eat meals together in a common area?

Yes (Conditions Apply)

Are residents allowed to gather in common areas for group activites?

Yes (Conditions Apply)

*Note: This information was not available for this state, contact your local area agency on aging or senior living facility for more information.

COVID-19 Safety Measures for Staff and Residents

Rules for Massachusetts Communities

Are staff members regularly required to do a temperature check?

Yes

Are staff members regularly tested for COVID-19?

Yes (Conditions Apply)

Are staff members members regularly required to do a health and safety screening, including questions about travel, contact with positive cases, etc?

Yes

Are residents regularly screened for COVID-19 symptoms?

Yes

Are residents regularly checked for elevated temperatures?

Yes

Are residents regularly tested for COVID-19?

Yes (Conditions Apply)

Memory Care Laws and Regulations in Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, memory support services are typically provided in special care residences in assisted living facilities. These facilities are governed by the Executive Office of Elder Affairs, which is responsible for certifying facilities and ensuring they abide by regulations pertaining to service planning, staffing, medication management and Medicaid coverage.

MEMORY CARE LAWS AND REGULATIONS IN MASSACHUSETTS
Scope of Care
Memory care facilities have 24-hour awake staff and provide assistance with the activities of daily living, meals and snacks and medication management. These facilities also have daily planned activities that promote large motor control, self-care tasks, memory-stimulating activities and social events. They may contract with licensed third-party service providers to offer part-time or intermittent nursing care for those who need an intermediate level of care. Facilities are not permitted to provide 24-hour nursing care or advanced nursing services, even through third-party providers.
Care Plans
Prior to admitting a new resident, a memory care facility must conduct an initial screening and assessment to determine the individual's needs and the facility's ability to meet those needs. Within three months of admission, the facility must develop a service plan based on the initial assessment as well as an evaluation conducted by a licensed physician. The service plan must include information regarding current medications, allergies, dietary requirements, need for evacuation assistance in an emergency, level of personal care needs and ability to manage medications. A review of the care plan must be conducted every six months or when the resident's needs change.
Medication Management
Memory care facilities are required to provide medication management services for self-administered medications. This includes medication reminders, opening containers and pre-packaged medications, reading the label to residents and observing them while they take the medicine. Limited medication administration is an optional service and may only be provided by a family member or a medical practitioner. A nurse may only administer medication from an original, pharmacy-filled and labeled container.
Staffing
Massachusetts doesn't impose minimum staffing ratios, but facilities must have sufficient staffing at all times to meet scheduled and unscheduled needs as outlined in each resident's care plans. All direct care staff and contracted providers must undergo a seven-hour orientation prior to employment that covers various topics, such as resident rights, recognizing and reporting abuse, a general overview of dementia and management of self-administered medications. In addition to this, all new employees must receive an additional seven hours of training on topics related to caring for those with dementia, including communication skills, creating a therapeutic environment and dealing with difficult behaviors.
Medicaid Coverage
MassHealth covers some memory care expenses through waiver programs. These programs provide coverage for personal care and supportive services.
Reporting Abuse
Residents or family members may report confirmed or suspected abuse to the Executive Office of Elder Affairs online or the state's long-term care ombudsman.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does memory care cost in Massachusetts?

Seniors in Massachusetts pay an average of $8,125 per month for memory care services, which is considerably higher than the national median of $5,625.

Are there financial assistance programs for memory care in Massachusetts?

Massachusetts seniors have access to several publicly funded financial assistance programs that may be used to help cover memory care, including the MassHealth PCA program, the EAEDC benefit, PACE and Moving Forward Plan waivers. Military veterans may also be eligible for the Aid and Attendance benefit program.

Does Medicare pay for memory care?

Medicare doesn’t provide personal care or supervision for seniors with dementia, either at home or in a memory care facility. However, it does pay for hospice care for those with dementia.

What types of services does memory care provide?

Memory care is a type of long-term care that specifically accommodates residents with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Some services provided are typically found in community-based settings, such as meals, lodging, transportation, recreational activities and assistance with activities of daily living. In addition to these, memory support facilities also offer specialized programs to enhance cognitive function, around-the-clock supervision and predictable daily routines to promote feelings of security.

What types of facilities offer memory care?

In Massachusetts, memory support services are generally provided in assisted living facilities in designated special care residences. These residences must prepare plans that outline the physical design of the structure and residents’ units, the physical environment and its safety features. All entry and exit doors in the common areas must be secured.