Alzheimer’s disease is a significant health concern in Minnesota. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, the disease was the fourth-leading cause of death in the state in 2018, and an estimated 99,000 Minnesotans have the disease as of 2020. By 2025, the number is projected to increase 21.2% to 120,000. This means a greater demand for caregivers, hospitals and memory care communities to assist this vulnerable population.

Taking care of loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia can place a great strain on family members, and many people turn to a memory care community for help. A low staff-to-resident ratio, among other important rules and regulations, allows seniors with cognitive decline to receive the specialized treatment they need to manage their illness while also living an active life as much as possible.

Memory care can either be offered on its own in a community designed especially for those with dementia or Alzheimer’s or, more often, 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 provides an overview of memory care in Minnesota, including cost of care, financial assistance, free and low-cost resources and state laws and regulations to help families make informed decisions about their loved one’s care.

The Cost of Memory Care in Minnesota

In Minnesota, memory care is provided in a designated area of assisted living facilities known as Special Care Units. Since the needs of Alzheimer’s and dementia residents are greater than those in assisted living, costs are 20–30% more expensive than assisted living care. In this article, we calculate the cost for memory care at 25% more than the monthly assisted living fees reported in Genworth Financial’s Cost of Care Survey 2019.

Memory Care Costs in Nearby States

The cost of memory care in Minnesota, at $4,750 per month, is affordable; it’s $314 less than the national average for memory care and midrange compared to surrounding states. Care in Wisconsin to the east and Iowa to the south both exceed the cost in Minnesota by several hundred dollars per month. Cheaper rates are available to the west of Minnesota in North Dakota and South Dakota, at $4,256 and $4,375 a month, respectively.

$4750

Minnesota

$5064

National

$5438

Wisconsin

$5098

Iowa

$4256

North Dakota

$4375

South Dakota

Cost of Other Types of Care in Minnesota

At just about 25% more than assisted living care, which costs $3,800, the monthly fees for a memory care facility in Minnesota are reasonable when considering the degree of services provided and the cost of other types of senior care. To hire a homemaker to cook, clean, run errands and give light support such as assistance with dressing, seniors pay $5,529 per month on average. The cost is $286 higher for a home health care aide who provides personal care and is qualified to perform some health services such as operating an oxygen tank. At $10,076, the most expensive care is in nursing homes, where seniors in need of 24/7 medical support and supervision reside. The least expensive fee is $1,820 for adult day care, but families of seniors with cognitive decline may need more than daytime help.

$4750

Memory Care

$5529

In-Home Care

$5815

Home Health Care

$1820

Adult Day Care

$3800

Assisted Living Facility

$10076

Nursing Home Care

The Cost of Memory Care in Minnesota’s Top Cities

Comparing Costs Across Minnesota

Of the cities surveyed, prices for memory care vary from $3,729 in Rochester, located in the southeastern part of the state, to $5,978 per month in the Minneapolis area, about 88 miles north of Rochester. Cities that fall in the middle of those price points include Duluth ($4,750), a port city on Lake Superior, St. Cloud ($4,439), centrally located in the state and Mankato ($4,305), just 113 miles south of St. Cloud.

$4750

Duluth

$4439

St. Cloud

$5978

Minneapolis

$4305

Mankato

$3729

Rochester

Financial Assistance for Memory Care in Minnesota

Elderly Waiver

The Elderly Waiver assists people who qualify for a nursing home level of support but who can live or prefer to live in a memory care facility or an assisted living facility that provides memory care. Services include case management, personal care assistance, skilled nursing and specialized equipment and supplies.

Who Is Eligible?
Recipients of the Elderly Waiver must be 65 or older and qualify for Medical Assistance, Minnesota’s Medicaid program. A consultation is required to determine if the senior needs nursing home care but can thrive in an alternative community setting, such as a memory care facility, and that the needed services will cost less in the community setting than they would in a nursing home.

How to Apply
To apply for the Elderly Waiver, seniors can contact the Long-Term Consultation Services office in their area, call The Senior LinkAge Line at 1-800-333-2433 or visit their website.

Alternative Care

The Alternative Care program is similar to the Elderly Waiver in that it provides home and community-based services to seniors who qualify to live in a nursing home but need a less expensive option for care. The main difference is the AC program is for seniors with low income and assets who don’t qualify for the state’s Medicaid program.

Who Is Eligible?
Seniors must be age 65 or older and need nursing home care, as per a long-term care consultation, but not able to pay for it for more than 135 days due to low income and assets. If AC can provide the necessary services in an alternate community setting, like memory care, for less than 75% of what the state Medicaid program would pay, then the senior would qualify for this program.

How to Apply
The county Long-Term Consultation Services offices handle applications for the Alternative Care program, as does The Senior LinkAge Line at 1-800-333-2433.

Consumer-Directed Community Supports

The CDCS program is designed for seniors living in a community setting to determine services and supports they need and who will deliver them, if they’re able to make those decisions. It also enables seniors to purchase nontraditional supports such as assistive technology and special therapies that may otherwise be out of financial reach.

Who Is Eligible?
Seniors who are already enrolled in the Elderly Waiver or the Alternative Care program are eligible for Consumer-Directed Community Supports.

How to Apply
To learn more about CDCS and to apply, seniors can contact their local county or tribal office. Those who are members of Minnesota Senior Health Options can contact member services to enroll.

Free and Low-Cost Memory Care Resources in Minnesota

Some free and low-cost memory care resources in Minnesota provide support, education and socialization and improve the quality of life of seniors living with memory impairment and their care partners.

ResourceContactServices
Alzheimer’s Association Minnesota-North Dakota Chapter1-800-272-3900Seniors living with Alzheimer’s disease and their families have access to support groups, community education programs and family care consultations in their area. The six meeting sites across the state are: Minneapolis, St. Paul, Duluth, Rochester, St. Cloud and Fergus Falls.
A.C.E. of Southwest MinnesotaCottonwood
507- 831-1803
Lincoln
507-829-0780
Lyon
507-532-1326
Murray
507-836-8705
Nobles
507-295-5262
Redwood
507-627-1016
Rock
507-283-5064
A.C.E. provides services that advocate, connect and educate citizens of Minnesota. It offers various services, including Alzheimer’s and dementia services and support, to both seniors and their families in Cottonwood, Lincoln, Lyon, Murray, Nobles, Redwood and Rock counties.
Living Well WorkbookThe Alzheimer’s Association has a free e-book available to people with mild cognitive impairment and their family members. Topics include brain exercises, nutrition and stress reduction, among other tips based on Alzheimer’s research.
Giving Voice Chorus612-440-9660Based in Bloomington, MN, Giving Voice is a nationwide initiative to bring together people with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers and family members to sing in a chorus. Its mission is to bring joy and purpose to people affected by dementia and to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s disease.
Kairos Alive!612-926-5454Kairos Alive! is a community-based arts and education organization bringing dance, music and storytelling to people of all ages in Minnesota. Staff offer evidence-based programs such as Dancing Heart, designed for people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, to memory care communities and senior centers across the state.

Memory Care Laws and Regulations in Minnesota

The Minnesota Department of Health oversees memory care, which is provided by assisted living facilities with a special license for dementia care. These facilities are licensed as either a class a or f home care provider and must be registered with the Department of Health as a housing services home. Facilities are subject to regular inspections that ensure elder care facility laws and regulations are being followed.

Scope of CareAssisted living facilities with a memory care license are required by law to provide residents with a service plan prior to their move-in date. The plan is renewed regularly after a registered nurse conducts physical and cognitive assessments. Care in the facility includes two meals per day, medication administration or help with self-administration, help with a minimum of three activities of daily living and opportunities for socializing. The facility must offer weekly housekeeping, laundry and assistance obtaining transportation to medical and other services.
Care PlansBefore the resident’s care plan is drafted, the facility must offer to provide an assessment by a registered nurse who determines the resident’s physical and mental needs. If accepted, the plan will include the RN’s analysis. A detailed description of the services the resident will receive, the provider of the necessary services and the schedule of services will be described in the plan. Additionally, it must note who will supervise these services and what will happen if the services cannot be provided for any reason.
Medication ManagementWhile assisted living facilities have to offer assistance with medication administration or self-administration, the state prefers staff to administer medications directly to residents. If a caregiver administers medication, a registered nurse must be present to supervise the process. The RN is also required to write out instructions for the caregiver to administer the medication.
StaffingIn Minnesota, minimum staff ratios for assisted living and memory care facilities are not mandated by the state. The only requirement is that a facility employs enough staff members to meet the needs of its residents.All staff members working with memory care residents must complete a training program and competency test. Those providing direct care must complete four hours of dementia training and 160 hours of memory care per year, while supervisors must complete 120 hours.
Medicaid CoverageMedicaid in Minnesota offers waivers to help pay for the cost of care, although they don’t include room and board. Family supplementation and state supplemental monies are accepted.
Reporting AbuseThe Office of the Ombudsman for Long-Term Care, a division of the Minnesota Board of Health, advocates for seniors and their rights while living in a long-term care facility, including memory care. Complaints about the quality of care and elder abuse can be phoned into the office at 1-800-657-3591.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does memory care cost in Minnesota?

In Minnesota, memory care costs range from $3,729 to $5,978 and average $4,750 per month. The cost is $314 less than the national average, so seniors in the state pay less for memory care than their peers do nationally.

Are there financial assistance programs for memory care in Minnesota?

Yes, the state offers three programs to seniors in different circumstances. The Elderly Waiver provides home and community-based services to seniors who qualify for the state’s Medicaid plan, while the Alternative Care program has the same services for seniors who don’t qualify for Medicaid. The Consumer-Directed Community Support program offers financial assistance for special therapies that might benefit seniors in memory care facilities.

What types of facilities offer memory care?

In Minnesota, memory care is offered in assisted living facilities licensed to provide special care. Dementia care licenses fall under chapter 144G of the state statutes.

What is the difference between memory care and assisted living?

The main difference between memory care and assisted living is that memory care residents receive specialized care in a separate setting designed for those with cognitive impairment. The environment may be equipped with features to encourage memory function and discourage exit-seeking behaviors. It may also include low staff-to-resident ratios and increased security features. Both memory care and assisted living facilities provide meals, room and board, assistance with activities of daily living, social activities and transportation.

What are activities of daily living?

Activities of daily living, or ADLs, include personal care such as bathing, dressing and grooming, medication management and housekeeping services. Often as people age, they have difficulty with these tasks, which is a significant reason aging seniors opt to move into assisted living or memory care facilities.