Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are among the important public health issues facing Massachusetts residents, with reported cases becoming increasingly common. In 2018, there were 1,823 Alzheimer’s-related deaths, making it the sixth leading cause of death in the state. As of 2020, the Alzheimer’s Association reports that 130,000 people aged 65 and over are living with this condition. By 2025, that number is expected to increase by over 15% to 150,000 people.

Memory care facilities support seniors living with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia by providing a safe, secure environment where they receive around-the-clock care and monitoring. In Massachusetts, memory care units are officially called special care units, and they are generally located within assisted living facilities.

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 statewide cost of memory care services, how prices vary across different cities and the other types of senior care options available. It also provides an overview of the financial aid options offered, free resources for seniors, families and caregivers as well as the rule and regulations that govern memory care facilities.

The Cost of Memory Care in Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, memory support services are typically provided in special care units in assisted living facilities. In most cases, special care units are located in a separate wing or building within the facility and equipped with advanced safety and security features. Because of the added features and stringent staff training requirements, memory care costs 20% to 30% more than standard assisted living services. The following are based on the cost of assisted living, as published in Genworth Financial’s 2019 Cost of Care Survey. A facility’s exact memory care fees depend on its location, the services and amenities it provides and its pricing structure.

Memory Care Costs in Nearby States

Massachusetts is among the most expensive states in the nation for memory care services, with monthly fees coming in nearly $2,000 above the national average. Of its bordering states, only New Hampshire is costlier at $8,776 per month. In Vermont, seniors pay an average of $6,673 monthly, and Rhode Island’s monthly costs average $6,499. The most affordable states surrounding Massachusetts are Connecticut and New York, where respective monthly expenses exceed the national average at $6,100 and $5,788.

$7050

Massachusetts

$5064

National

$8776

New Hampshire

$6673

Vermont

$5788

New York

$6100

Connecticut

$6499

Rhode Island

Cost of Other Types of Care in Massachusetts

Seniors in Massachusetts have multiple care options that enable them to choose the care that suits their budget, living preferences and health needs. Nursing home care is the most comprehensive and also the most expensive option in this state, with the monthly costs for a semi-private room averaging $12,473. Assisted living is about $1,400 less than memory care at $5,640 per month. Seniors who prefer to receive care in their own home may opt for in-home care, which features homemaker services that include companionship and light housekeeping for $5,186 per month. Home health care is suited for those who need skilled nursing and costs about $5,243 monthly. Adult day care is the most affordable option at $1,473 per month.

$7050

Memory Care

$5186

In-Home Care

$5243

Home Health Care

$1473

Adult Day Care

$5640

Assisted Living Facility

$12473

Nursing Home Care

The Cost of Memory Care in Massachusetts’s Top Cities

Comparing Costs Across Massachusetts

The cost of memory support services varies widely across Massachusetts, ranging from $3,766 in the westernmost city of Pittsfield to $8,053 in its capital city of Boston. In Worcester, monthly care costs are on par with the statewide average of $7,043. Comparatively, affordable care may be found in Springfield ($6,688) and Barnstable Town ($6,938).

$3766

Pittsfield

$6688

Springfield

$7043

Worcester

$8053

Boston Area

$6938

Barnstable Town

Financial Assistance for Memory Care in Massachusetts

MassHealth Personal Care Attendant Program

The PCA Program is operated by MassHealth, the state’s Medicaid program. It helps those with chronic or permanent disabilities maintain their independence, manage their own personal care and avoid nursing home placement by providing funds to pay for personal care attendants. Participants are responsible for hiring their own caregivers, and in some cases, friends or family members may be eligible for hire. While this program doesn’t fund memory care directly, money from it can be used to hire personal caregivers to provide services. Some services that personal care attendants offer include homemaker services, assistance with daily living activities and transportation to medical appointments.

Who Is Eligible?
To be eligible for the PCA Program, applicants must need assistance with at least two activities of daily living, such as bathing and dressing, and a physician must deem personal care services necessary. Applicants must also qualify to receive MassHealth, which has income and asset limits.

How to Apply
To receive more information or apply for the PCA Program, individuals should contact the MassHealth Customer Service Center by calling (800) 841-2900.

Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled and Children

Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled and Children is a state-funded program that provides a cash benefit and medical assistance to seniors who aren’t receiving Supplemental Security Income or other similar advantages. This cash benefit can be used at the recipient’s discretion for living expenses, including memory care services. The amount of the benefit varies depending on the individual’s living situation. In 2020, those residing in residential care facilities receive $72.80 per month.

Who Is Eligible?
To be eligible for EAEDC, applicants must meet income and asset requirements and not qualify for other cash assistance programs. They must be residents of Massachusetts and U.S. citizens.

How to Apply
Individuals should contact their local Department of Transitional Assistance office to learn more about EAEDC’s eligibility requirements or to apply for the program.

Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly

Massachusetts’ PACE program promotes independence for seniors by providing a wide array of supportive services, such as personal care, medical and specialty care, occupational therapy, meals, social services and activities. Program participants are given personalized health care plans that outline all the services they need and can enjoy social and recreational activities at their local PACE center. While MassHealth eligibility isn’t required for participation in this program, those who are enrolled in MassHealth have their premiums billed directly to Medicaid.

Who Is Eligible?
To qualify for PACE, applicants must live within a PACE service area. They must be at least aged 55 years with a recognized disability, such as dementia. They must also be eligible for nursing home placement but live in the community. While there are no income restrictions, priority is given to low-income applicants.

How to Apply
To apply, seniors should contact their local PACE organization.

Moving Forward Plan Waivers

Massachusetts has two home- and community-based services waivers, called Moving Forward Plan waivers, to help MassHealth-eligible seniors transition from a nursing facility back into the community. The MFP Residential Supports waiver is for those who need 24-hour care and supervision in a provider-operated residence, such as a memory care facility. The MFP Community Living waiver is for those who can move to their own home or the home of a caregiver. Some programs covered by MFP-RS include assisted living services, community-based day supports, homemaker services, occupational and speech therapy, transportation and specialized medical equipment.

Who Is Eligible?
Applicants must have resided in an institutional setting for at least 90 days and be aged 65 years or older or have a disability to be eligible for an MFP waiver. They must also qualify for and be enrolled in MassHealth.

How to Apply
To apply, seniors must print, fill out and mail in an application form to UMass MFP Waiver Unit at 333 South St., Shrewsbury, MA 01545.

Free and Low-Cost Memory Care Resources in Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, seniors have access to a variety of local and statewide resources that provide education, information and referral services for seniors and families who have been affected by Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. These programs are free of cost and accessible to all state residents, regardless of income.

ResourceContactServices
Alzheimer’s Association Massachusetts/New Hampshire Chapter(800) 272-3900The Alzheimer’s Association’s Massachusetts/New Hampshire Chapter helps state residents connect with local support services. It also provides educational materials and promotes fund research for treatments.
Massachusetts Councils on Aging & Senior Centers(413) 527-6425Massachusetts Councils on Aging is comprised of 350 local outreach, health, informational and referral services for older adults, their families and caregivers. Some services provided by these councils include health insurance counseling, congregate and home-delivered meals, health screenings and transportation. MCOA also operates numerous senior centers throughout the state to provide access to these services as well as recreational and social opportunities.
Free Memory Screening(978) 992-4212The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America offers a national memory screening program for those aged 50 and over. The memory exam features a cognitive assessment that determines a generalized score that can indicate normal results, mild cognitive decline and moderate cognitive deterioration.
Boston University Alzheimer’s Disease Center(857) 364-2140Boston University operates the Alzheimer’s Disease Center that conducts research in hopes of discovering a cure for the disease. Studies recruit volunteers with mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer’s disease to get further knowledge about the disease and develop new treatments.
Assisted Living Ombudsman(617) 727-7750The Assisted Living Ombudsman is an advocate for long-term care residents and may act as a mediator to help solve disputes and complaints pertaining to the quality of care. Charges may be filed by anyone and can relate to individual residents or residents as a group.
Massachusetts Department of Veterans’ Services(617) 210-5480The Department of Veterans’ Services is an advocate of veterans and assists them with connecting to programs that may help them pay for memory support services, such as Aid and Attendance benefits or the VA pension.

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.

Scope of CareMemory 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 PlansPrior 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 ManagementMemory 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.
StaffingMassachusetts 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 CoverageMassHealth covers some memory care expenses through waiver programs. These programs provide coverage for personal care and supportive services.
Reporting AbuseResidents 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?

On average, seniors in Massachusetts pay $7,050 per month for memory care services, which is considerably higher than the national mean of $5,064. Statewide, the cost of this type of care varies from $3,766 to $8,053 per month, though exact pricing depends on where a facility is located and what services and amenities it provides.

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.