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Memory Care in Tennessee

The southeastern state of Tennessee is home to over 6.9 million residents, of whom 17% are seniors age 65 and older. Each year, memory disorders impact an increasing number of Americans. Studies from the Alzheimer’s Association show that each year, 1 in 3 seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or dementia as a primary cause. As reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, rates of Alzheimer’s-related deaths in Tennessee increased by around 16.5% between 2016 and 2020.

Fortunately, a number of dementia care resources are available to seniors in Tennessee, including memory care facilities. These communities are designed to support the unique needs of individuals coping with memory loss by offering 24-hour supervision, personalized care services and dementia programming. They also offer nutritious daily meals, household chore services, transportation and organized recreational activities.

This guide explores some of the pros and cons of living in Tennessee, provides information about the cost of memory care facilities and lists local organizations that offer free or low-cost senior support services.

The Cost of Memory Care in Tennessee

When trying to decide how to pay for memory care, one of the first questions that comes up is "How much does it cost?" With the impact of inflation, it's more important than ever to have up-to-date information when making a financial plan for senior living. To help shed light on real senior living prices, has compiled proprietary cost data from its network of over 75,000 senior living providers to offer insight into the average cost of memory care in Tennessee and its 26 cities.

The Cost of Memory Care in Tennessee's Top Cities

Memory care costs in Tennessee's top cities present quite the gamut of figures, with a few outliers in smaller towns. In Memphis, the average cost sits around $4,608, whereas in Clarksville, it jumps to $6,535. To the east in Knoxville, costs slip to $4,357 and down in Chattanooga, they're back up at $4,652. It's important to use thorough research to find the best match for your budget.











Inflation's Impact on the Cost of Memory Care in Tennessee

The effect of inflation is straining budgets when paying for memory care in Tennessee, where a staggering 21.4% increase in 2023 easily outpaces the U.S. average rise of 10.4%. Neighboring states show a more modest impact, with Alabama experiencing a 7.7% bump and Mississippi slightly lower at 6.9%. Kentucky slightly exceeds the national average's increase with its 11.3% rise, while Georgia saw the lowest change of 4.5%, comparatively keeping its overall costs low. Costs are mostly predicted to continue rising, so financial preparedness needs to be at the forefront to ensure peace of mind amid fluctuating memory care expenses.

Location2022 Cost (Historical)2023 Cost (Current)2024 Cost (Estimated)
U.S. Average$4,863$5,369$5,792

The Costs of Other Types of Senior Living

Senior living options vary in cost. Assisted living is more budget-friendly at $4,201, compared to memory care at $5,115, but independent living is the most affordable at $2,629. The level of support from staff is the primary reason for the higher price tag on memory care, as independent living is a more autonomous lifestyle. A well-rounded decision balances the type of care with preferences for amenities for a fulfilling senior living experience.

Assisted Living


Memory Care


Independent Living


Does Medicaid Cover Memory Care in Tennessee?

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 Tennessee.

Tennessee residents 65 and older who qualify for Medicaid and are in need of memory care services can apply for TennCare Choices, the Long-Term Care Services and Supports program that delivers services so that nursing home placement can be delayed and seniors can stay within their communities longer. The Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly, or PACE, is also available as an alternative to the Choices program, but only for those who live in Hamilton County and who meet other health and financial criteria.  

What Memory Care Services Are Covered by Medicaid in Tennessee?

Individuals who are looking to receive services in a memory care residential facility must first meet TennCare’s medical and financial requirements. Those found eligible who then qualify for the Choices program will use services based on their personal needs and current condition. These include assistance with daily living tasks such as getting in and out of bed, preparing and eating meals, and a personal emergency response system.

Seniors who are still at home or looking to transition to memory care also qualify for adult day care, home-delivered meals and home modifications to increase accessibility and safety. The PACE program provides similar services but is available to seniors 55 and older who need a nursing level of care, as opposed to the Choices program, which is available to seniors 65 and older.   

Memory Care Waiver Programs in Tennessee

TennCare Choices

Although it doesn’t cover room and board, the TennCare Choices program can provide services that are delivered in memory care residencies to those who are 65 and older and who meet one of two conditions: they require nursing services, or they are receiving SSI payments and are considered “at risk” of needing nursing home care. Some of the services provided include:


  • Homemaker services, such as room cleaning and laundry
  • Personal care visits to help with bathing, dressing and eating
  • Medication management


To apply, individuals who are not currently TennCare qualified need to contact their local Area Agency on Aging, who can help them apply or inform them of other programs if they don’t meet Medicaid eligibility criteria. Seniors who currently qualify for TennCare can learn more about the Choices program by calling their TennCare health plan, found on their TennCare card.

Program of All-Inclusive Care of the Elderly 

Meant for seniors who are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid, PACE provides an interdisciplinary team that creates a coordinated and personalized care plan for seniors who qualify. PACE is meant to help keep seniors living within their communities and delay nursing home placement. Basic qualifications include:


  • Being 55 or older
  • Living in Hamilton County
  • Meeting nursing level of care criteria
  • Capable of living in the community safely

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

To qualify for TennCare, Tennessee’s Medicaid program, you must meet specific eligibility criteria related to residency, age and citizenship status in addition to having limited income and assets. Specifically, you must:

  • Be 65 years or older, or be blind or have a permanent disability
  • Be either a U.S. citizen, legal alien or permanent resident
  • Have full-time Tennessee residency
  • Have no more than $2,000 in assets if applying as an individual
  • Income not exceeding $32,904 for previous five years if applying as an individual

Household SizeNumber of ApplicantsIncome Limits Per Year*Asset Limits: Applicant(s)Asset Limits: Non-Applicants
One Person1$32,904$2,000
Two People1$32,904**$2,000148,620
Two People 2$65,808***$4,000****

*Depending on the facility setting, a recipient may not be able to keep income up to this level.

**Income limit is for applicant only.

***Income is limited to $2,742 per month per spouse. 

****Assets are limited to $2,000 per spouse

When only one spouse is applying, the non-applicant’s income is not considered when determining eligibility. In addition, the non-applicant spouse may be eligible for a Minimum Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowance from the applicant spouse if their income is below the Spousal Poverty limit.

Non-countable assets in Tennessee include personal belongings, an automobile, burial trusts and a personal residence, if a non-applicant spouse resides there. If that isn’t the case, the applicant must have a written statement that they intend to return to their home if their condition improves. The home’s value must also not be greater than $636,000.

How to Apply for Medicaid in Tennessee

Applications for TennCare can be completed online, through the TennCare Connect portal. Paper applications can also be printed, completed and mailed to TennCare Connect, P.O. Box 305240, Nashville, TN 37230-5240. Seniors or family members can also apply by calling (855) 259-0701.

Information You Will Need

Before applying for Medicaid in Tennessee, you’ll need documentation showing income from the past five years. Proof of all assets must also be included, as well as health and life insurance documents, five years worth of tax forms, and, if you receive Social Security benefits, a letter from the SS Administration showing the gross amount of SS income and any deductions taken. 

You should also have the following documents prepared before applying:

  • Drivers license or other government-issued ID verifying citizenship
  • Documents proving residency such as a rental agreement, mortgage statement or utility bills 
  • Proof of all investments, including 401K and pension retirement accounts, stocks, bonds or other assets
  • Documents pertaining to burial arrangements or funeral expenses
  • Documents showing proof of property sold or acquired during previous five years
  • Proof of will, power of attorney or other estate or care-related documents 

How to Get Help Applying for Medicaid

Tennessee families can get help applying for Medicaid in several ways. The state’s State Health Insurance Program, SHIP, can give information about Medicaid eligibility, as can local Area Agencies on Aging and Disability. TennCare Connect, the online Medicaid application portal, also provides over-the-phone assistance with commonly asked application questions. 

ProgramContactServices provided
TN SHIP(877) 801-0044Providing unbiased counseling for seniors weighing their healthcare options, TN SHIP can offer help applying for Medicaid, as well as information about general eligibility requirements and comparisons between Medicaid and Medicare. 
TennCare Connect(855) 259-0701TennCare Connect is the self-guided portal for Medicaid applications. The website has a listing of FAQs, and representatives are available by phone to help those needing assistance.
Area Agencies on Aging and Disability(866) 836-6678Tennessee’s Area Agencies on Aging and Disability can provide families with answers to commonly asked Medicaid questions and may be able to provide referrals to additional local resources.

Does Medicare Cover Memory Care in Tennessee?

The short answer is that no, Medicare does not cover the cost of memory care in Tennessee. 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 Tennessee.

Other Financial Assistance Options for Memory Care in Tennessee

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.

NameHow To ApplyHow It WorksHow T oApply
Aid and AttendanceLearn more and apply online at 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 toward paying for Memory Care.
Reverse MortgagesLearn more about your options and how to apply at ftc.govIf 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) InsuranceSeniors 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.Learn more about Long-Term Care Insurance and how to apply for a policy at

Free and Low-Cost Resources for Seniors in Tennessee

There are many resources in Tennessee that assist seniors in their retirement. has compiled information on local organizations, programs and agencies and categorized them into care types for easy reference.

Area Agency on Aging

Retirees can find support and advice on various senior-related issues from their local Area Agency on Aging. The agency provides advice on topics such as financial assistance programs, in-home care and long-term care planning. It also connects seniors and caregivers with community-based resources.

Program NamePhone NumberDescription
Tennessee Area Agencies on AgingThe Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability administers state funding for home- and community-based programs for seniors aged 60 and above. The program is administered by nine area agencies covering all 95 counties. The program aims to improve the quality of life and ensure independence for older Tennesseans through daily living assistance such as household cleaning, shopping, transportation, dressing and home health care. Other facets of the program include cooking, home delivery of meals, home accessibility and home maintenance.

Cash Assistance Programs

Cash assistance programs in Tennessee provide financial support to help low-income retirees remain in their own homes for as long as possible. Seniors and caregivers can apply for tax rebates and reductions, discounts on vital services and help covering the cost of heating and cooling their home.

Program NamePhone NumberDescription
Tennessee Families First866-311-4287Tennessee Families First, administered by the Tennessee Department of Human Services, is the state's Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. This workforce development and employment program assists interested seniors in securing reliable employment. The program provides temporary cash assistance, transportation, educational support and job training that can help individuals find part-time or full-time jobs.
Tennessee Lifeline Program800-234-9473Lifeline provides a discount for eligible Tennessee customers who need help with their phone and internet bills. Once you enroll in the program, your discount is automatically applied to your bill. One enrollment is allowed per household, and benefits are not transferable.

Food Assistance Programs

Local organizations help ensure elderly citizens have a balanced diet and receive essential vitamins and minerals to remain healthy. Through nutrition programs, congregate meals, home-delivered meals and food pantries, these programs help Tennessee seniors afford the nutritious food they need.

Program NamePhone NumberDescription
Tennessee Commission on Aging & Disability866-836-6678The Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability offers a range of nutrition programs for seniors aged 60 or over and people with disabilities. Also known as Meals on Wheels, the home-delivered meal service in Tennessee is available for frail, sick or homebound residents who have undergone an assessment by a caseworker. In addition to daily meals, this service provides friendly visits and safety checks performed by the program's volunteer drivers.
Tennessee Meals on WheelsMeals on Wheels operates through a nationwide network of providers to combat hunger and isolation, particularly among seniors with a low income. Program volunteers visit their clients with prepared meals and sometimes food supplies they can prepare for themselves. Volunteers may also perform daily check-ins and some other support services for the public they serve
Tennessee Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)866-311-4287The Tennessee Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program provides low-income seniors with funds to help them have reliable access to food. Seniors must meet income guidelines and have no more than $4,250 in resources, such as cash or money in checking or savings accounts. Qualifying seniors receive an electronic benefit transfer card that functions like a debit card, allowing them to purchase food at local grocers and some online retailers.
Tennessee The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP)The federally-run Emergency Food Assistance Program offers food at no cost to low-income Tennessee seniors. Eligible individuals must have an income below 150% of the current poverty level or be enrolled in another assistance program, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The Tennessee Department of Agriculture distributes food to 17 community agencies and five food banks, and eligible seniors can receive produce and shelf-stable goods from locations closest to them.
Tennessee Aging Nutrition Program866-836-6678The Agency on Aging provides a nutrition program for seniors in the Chattanooga area. Those seniors who are still physically able to leave the house can go to one of the congregate meal sites to enjoy a hot meal and socialize with other seniors. Volunteers deliver meals at around noon each day from Monday to Friday to seniors who are homebound and are no longer able to prepare a meal on their own. The volunteers provide a friendly visit and safety check at the same time as delivering the meal. All of the meals provide a third of the daily nutritional requirements of seniors. There is no charge for the meals but certain requirements need to be met in order to receive meals.

Free Used Medical Equipment

Due to the high cost of purchasing new medical equipment, several organizations in Tennessee collect lightly used medical devices such as wheelchairs, ramps and walkers and distribute them to local seniors and residents in need.

Program NamePhone NumberDescription
ALS Association Tennessee Chapter877-216-5551ALS Association has a large inventory of durable medical equipment to lend out to members and a robust financial aid program to help registered members buy new equipment that might not be in stock. Equipment loans are offered at no cost to members.
Tennessee Technology Access Program (TTAP)800-464-5619TTAP operates statewide to provide access to needed assistive technology. The program links together more than 30 local groups to cover the state and maintain the largest possible inventory. TTAP volunteers also demonstrate technology for users and may be able to deliver to members' homes.

Home Repair and Modifications

Seniors and those with disabilities can access a variety of local resources to help them pay for home repairs and modifications. Programs in Tennessee have different eligibility criteria and often assist retirees by providing grants or loans.

Program NamePhone NumberDescription
Tennessee Home Modifications & Ramps Program800-228-8432The Tennessee Home Modification program provides state-backed home improvement loans seniors can use to upgrade their home's safety and access. Loan amounts can be as high as $25,000 at a 5% interest rate.

Many organizations offer free or low-cost legal services to Tennessee seniors. Older adults can access advice on issues such as estate planning, living wills and power of attorney. Some firms also act as long-term care ombudsmen, advocating for the rights of seniors in senior living communities.

Program NamePhone NumberDescription
Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services (TALS)888-395-9297The Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services works with private legal nonprofits to provide free legal advice and aid to seniors. Lawyers can help seniors with housing, estate planning, long-term care and advance directives. Referrals to local legal help are also available through the hotline.
Tennessee Long-Term Care Ombudsman615-253-5412The statewide long-term care ombudsman program advocates on behalf of seniors who reside in assisted living facilities. Seniors can contact the ombudsman for help with researching local facilities, identifying options for paying for care and resolving issues related to care planning and intake or discharge procedures.

Senior Engagement

Senior engagement resources and programs in Tennessee help older adults remain active and ensure they contribute to the community. Resources include wellness programs, volunteer opportunities, support groups and organizations that help residents connect with the community to live fulfilling lives.

Program NamePhone NumberDescription
Alzheimer's Support and Educational Programs Tennessee Chapter800-272-3900The Alzheimer's Association of Tennessee provides support for seniors diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Peer and professionally led support groups help older adults and their caregivers navigate an Alzheimer's diagnosis, and these sessions are hosted virtually or in person at several locations across the state. The organization also publishes a resource finder that connects Tennessee's seniors with programs in their local communities. Fundraisers support the organization and bring together residents to fight Alzheimer's and help those coping with the disease.
University of Tennessee Knoxville One Stop Student Services865-974-1111Under Tennessee law, Tennessee adults aged 60 and up are eligible to take non-credit classes at all public colleges in the state without paying tuition. Adults aged 65 and up can take credit classes without paying tuition, although some fees and class-size limitations apply.

Social Security Offices

Social Security offices in Tennessee help seniors and disabled people access the benefits they're entitled to. Older adults can contact their local office for information about receiving retirement benefits, disability allowance and Supplemental Security Income.

Program NamePhone NumberDescription
Tennessee Social SecuritySocial Security is a source of income available to retirees and people who can no longer work because of a disability. The money for Social Security comes from a payroll tax levied on employers, employees and self-employed individuals. When you retire, you'll receive monthly payments based on how much you earned when you were working.

Tax Assistance

Seniors can apply for tax assistance from several Tennessee resources. Elderly residents and those with disabilities could be eligible for tax exemptions on medical expenses, reductions on property tax and other tax assistance programs.

Program NamePhone NumberDescription
Tennessee Property Tax Relief615-747-8858Tennessee's Division of Property Assessments helps senior homeowners with an annual direct payment to help offset the cost of their property taxes. Amounts vary depending on the value of your house and the area of the state where you live.

Utility & Energy Bill Assistance

Low-income seniors who are struggling to meet the costs of maintaining their homes can find support from organizations that offer assistance with utility and energy bills. Tennessee retirees could also qualify for emergency funding programs if they're in danger of losing utility services due to unpaid invoices.

Program NamePhone NumberDescription
Tennessee Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)800-228-8432The Tennessee Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program provides financial support that helps seniors pay heating and cooling bills. The program can also provide funds for seniors facing emergencies due to pending utility disconnection notices or malfunctioning equipment. Payments are made directly to the energy providers. To qualify for the program, seniors must prove they fall below maximum income limits, which are set at 60% of the state median income. Seniors already on SSI or SNAP may qualify automatically.

Veteran's Services

Tennessee retirees who have served in the U.S. military can find support from local veteran services. These offices and organizations help vets access the benefits they're eligible for and provide advice and information on a variety of issues.

Program NamePhone NumberDescription
Tennessee VA Benefits and Health CareTennessee VA Benefits and Health Care provides support to senior veterans throughout the state to ensure they receive quality health care and the financial support they need for a comfortable retirement. Veterans aged 65 and older can access comprehensive health care services, including specialized geriatric care, at VA medical centers and clinics. Seniors can also benefit from financial assistance through pension programs, Aid and Attendance payments and other government benefits to help cover the costs of long-term care or in-home care services.

Memory Care Laws and Regulations in Tennessee

Tennessee memory care facilities are also known as assisted care facilities, and these facilities are licensed and regulated by the Tennessee Department of Health, Board of Licencing Health Care Facilities.

Scope of CareAssisted care living facilities that provide services to those living with Alzheimer's disease or memory loss may only provide services in accordance with the terms of the state-issued license. These facilities cannot admit or retain residents with medical or behavioral needs which exceed the capacity of the facility and the staff of the facility, including residents who need continuous skilled nursing care.
Care Plan RequirementsA plan of care developed in collaboration with the resident, their family members and their legal representative must be prepared within five days of admission to a licensed care facility. The care plan must be reviewed at least once every six months, or more frequently if the resident displays significant changes in their health or behavior.
Medication Management RequirementsUnlicensed care staff may provide medication reminders and supervise self-administration of medications prescribed to residents. Staff may not administer medication unless licensed to do so as a medical professional.
Staff Screening RequirementsACLF staff need to clear a criminal record check prior to working in direct contact with residents.
Staff Training RequirementsStaff should have a basic understanding of the principles of memory care, and maintain an up-to-date knowledge through ongoing annual training.
Medicaid CoverageTennessee's Medicaid program covers care costs for memory care services delivered in an assisted living setting or a nursing facility through the TennCARE CHOICES home and community-based services waiver.
Reporting AbuseConcerns regarding abuse, exploitation or neglect of a resident in a memory care program in Tennessee should be immediately reported to the Long-Term Care Ombudsman or the nearest law enforcement agency.

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