Alzheimer’s disease and dementia rates are increasing in many areas of the county, and an estimated 5.8 million Americans are currently diagnosed with progressive-degenerative memory loss. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, a national not-for-profit organization, there are about 95,000 people living with Alzheimer’s disease in South Carolina, and that number is expected to rise to 120,000 by 2025. The state has the highest Alzheimer’s death rate in the country, and Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in South Carolina.

Fortunately, recent advances in memory care means that people diagnosed with dementia have access to a number of specialized memory care programs. These programs provide 24/7 support and supervision, giving patients the care they need while providing family members with the peace of mind that comes with knowing their loved ones are safe.

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 South Carolina and nearby states, programs to help seniors pay for memory care and memory care licensing and standards. There’s also links to free and low-cost resources for seniors and their families, and a list of frequently-asked questions about memory care in South Carolina.

The Cost of Memory Care in South Carolina

Memory care costs are generally about 20-30% higher than assisted living costs, and lower than the cost of nursing home care. Given that Genworth’s 2019 Cost of Care Survey shows the average monthly cost of assisted living in South Carolina is $3,500 per month, the average cost of memory care statewide is $4,375.

Memory Care Costs in Nearby States

At an average of $4,375 per month, memory care costs in South Carolina are well below the national average of $5,064 per month. Average costs in neighboring Georgia are lower at $4,169 per month, while memory care is more expensive in North Carolina at $5,000 per month. Further south, memory care costs an average of $4,375 in Florida, while to the west costs average $4,875 in Tennessee.

$4375

South Carolina

$5064

National

$4169

Georgia

$5000

North Carolina

$4375

Florida

$4875

Tennessee

Costs of Other Types of Care in South Carolina

Seniors in South Carolina have a number of options when it comes to long-term care. Adult day health care, which includes programming in a communal setting during regular business hours, is the lowest-priced option at an average of $1,343 per month. Assisted living care costs $3,500 per month, while 44 hours of homemaker service is $3,813, and $4,000 for a home health aide. As with most other states, nursing home care is the costliest type of senior care at $7,123 per month.

$4375

Memory Care

$1343

Adult Day Health Care

$3500

Assisted Living

$3813

In-Home Care

$4000

Home Health Care

$7123

Nursing Home Care

The Cost of Memory Care in South Carolina’s Top Cities

Memory care costs vary throughout the state and range from $2,219 in Sumter up to $5,230 on Hilton Head Island. Costs are the same as the statewide average of $4,375 in Florence, and above-average in Myrtle Beach ($5,063) and Greenville ($4,758).

$5230

Hilton Head Island

$5063

Myrtle Beach

$4758

Greenville

$4375

Florence

$2219

Sumter

Financial Assistance for Memory Care in South Carolina

Community Choices Medicaid Waiver/Elderly and Disabled Waiver

The Community Choices Waiver, also referred to as the Elderly and Disabled Waiver, is a Medicaid home and community-based waiver that covers care costs at assisted living and memory care facilities for seniors enrolled in Medicaid. Although this home and community-based waiver does not cover room and board expenses, it does cover all of the personal care, recreational programming and support services delivered in a memory care setting. Enhanced services such as physical and occupational therapy, mobility devices and extra one-on-one staffing may be covered on a case-by-case basis.

Who Is Eligible?
To qualify for enrollment in the Community Choices Waiver, seniors must first meet the financial and asset criteria for enrollment in Medicaid. Seniors must also have approved medical documentation verifying that they need residential care in either an assisted living facility that offers memory care services, or a dedicated memory care facility.

How to Apply
For more information on South Carolina’s Community Choices Medicaid Waiver, contact the nearest Area Agency on Aging or call GetCareSC at 1-800-868-9095.

Free and Low-Cost Memory Care Resources in South Carolina

There are a number of free and low-cost resources available in South Carolina to support people living with memory loss and their families. These resources include low-cost legal assistance, advocacy services and support groups.

ContactServices Provided
South Carolina Long Term Care Ombudsman

1-800-868-9095The LTCO provides free support to seniors and family members who have concerns or complaints related to long-term care, including memory care facilities. Volunteer Ombudsmen educate seniors, caretakers and community members about resident rights in long-term care facilities over the phone, via emails and in-person events.
Legal Assistance for Seniors

Contact your local Area Agency on Aging

Seniors aged 60 and older who need legal advice or representation related to civil matters such as issues with Medicaid or Medicare, long-term care facilities, estate planning and consumer fraud can get free help through the Legal Assistance for Seniors program.
Alzheimer’s Association — South Carolina Chapter

1-800-272-3900The Alzheimer’s Association is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to advancing research, funding and services for people living with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. The South Carolina branch operates a number of regional programs including support groups and educational sessions, and seniors can contact the AA for referrals to local services.
South Carolina Department on Aging

1-800-868-9095The South Carolina Department on Aging is the state agency responsible for older adults. Seniors, family members and caregivers can contact the Department to connect with statewide programs and services including family caregiver advocates, evidence-based disease management programs and Medicare counselling.
Alzheimer’s Resource Coordination Center

1-800-868-9095The ARCC is a statewide advisory council consisting of government officials, consumers and representatives of agencies and organizations that support people living with Alzheimer’s disease. The Advisory Council works to develop state and regional systems to improve the quality of memory care program accessibility and delivery throughout the state.

Memory Care Laws and Regulations in South Carolina

Assisted living communities and facilities that provide memory care services for two or more non-related adults in South Carolina must be licensed by the South Carolina Board of Health and Environmental Control. These facilities are known as community residential care facilities (CRCFs), and CRCFs that offer Alzheimer’s care are referred to as Alzheimer’s special care units (SCUs).

Scope of CareFacilities can only admit and retain residents with needs that can be safely met at the facility based on the availability of skilled and unskilled staff, as well as any behavioral and/or medical issues presented by the residents.
Care Plan RequirementsNew residents must be assessed by a direct care staff member from the facility within 72 hours of admission to determine if the resident is suitable for long-term placement in the facility. Within 7 days, the facility must develop a customized individual care plan (ICP) for the resident, and that plan must be reviewed at least once every 6 months or less, particularly if there are changes in the residents’ behavior or medical status.
Medication Management RequirementsMemory care staff who have been trained in medication administration by a licensed nurse may administer routine prescription medications such as oral and topical medications. Injectables including B-12 shots and insulin can only be administered by a licensed registered nurse, with the exception of an emergency injection (Epi-pen) to treat anaphylactic reactions.
Staff Screening RequirementsFacility administrators are responsible for screening all direct and indirect care staff to determine their suitability for employment in a memory care program.
Staff Training RequirementsEach facility must have a designated administrator approved by the state Board of Long-Term Health Care Administrators, as well as a designated staff member who is responsible in the absence of the administrator. Facilities that serve Medicaid members must also have a licensed nurse on site at least one day each week, and all memory care staff need to be trained in basic first aid, infectious disease control, medication management and the care of people living with memory loss.
Medicaid CoverageFacilities that accept Medicaid members must have a licensed nurse on-staff, and that nurse needs to be on-site at least one day each week.
Reporting AbuseAbuse should be reported to local law enforcement authorities or South Carolina’s Long Term Care Ombudsman at 1-800-868-9095.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Much Does Memory Care Cost in South Carolina?

The average cost of residential memory care in South Carolina is $4,375 per month. Actual costs vary depending on the location, services and amenities. Statewide, memory care is most expensive on Hilton Head Island at an average of $5,230 per month, and lowest in Sumter at $2,219 per month.

Does South Carolina Medicaid Pay for Memory Care?

South Carolina’s state Medicaid plan, also known as Health Connections, will cover care costs for members who require residential care services due to a progressive-degenerative condition such as Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia. Members are responsible for the room and board portion of their care costs.

What Is the Difference Between Memory Care and Assisted Living?

Memory care and assisted living differ in that assisted living communities are designed for seniors who are largely free of any major cognitive issues such as dementia, while memory care programs are geared towards those diagnosed with dementia. Memory care programs have a higher staff to resident ratio, structured daily programming and an environment that’s designed to prevent dementia-related wandering, confusion and agitation.

What Security Features Are Present in Memory Care Facilities?

Memory care facilities usually have special security features to reduce wandering among residents. These features include exterior doors that are secured with a digital lock, interior and exterior motion-activated security cameras and an enclosed outdoor space such as a courtyard or fenced yard. Some memory care facilities are equipped with WanderGuard, a wireless system that immediately notifies on-site caregivers when a resident attempts to leave the secure memory care area. All memory care facilities in South Carolina have 24/7 awake caregivers.

What Types of Therapies Are Offered in Memory Care Facilities?

Pet, music and art therapy are some of the types of therapy offered in memory care facilities. Some programs also operate gardening programs, physical activities and aromatherapy. Residents may have access to on-site speech, physical and/or occupational therapy as well.