Alzheimer’s disease is an increasingly prevalent issue in Virginia. The state has an aging population, with those aged 65 and over making up over 15% of the population. In 2020, the Alzheimer’s Association reported that roughly 150,000 people aged 65 and older were living with Alzheimer’s. By 2025, that number is projected to increase by nearly 27% to 190,000. This disease, which was linked to 2,592 deaths in the state in 2018, correlates with an increase in the number of emergency department visits and a higher hospital admission rate. Currently, it’s the sixth leading cause of death in the state.

For many seniors living with Alzheimer’s or dementia, memory care is an option that provides a safe, reassuring environment that promotes independence while ensuring a helping hand is always close by. In Virginia, memory care services are provided in secure dementia units, also called special care units, that provide specialized programming with cognitive stimulation and natural world activities. The staff in these facilities has extensive training that includes topics such as resident care techniques and communication skills. SCUs are also outfitted with protective devices on exit points to prevent wandering.

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 expressly for the needs of those living with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

This guide provides a comprehensive look at memory care in Virginia, including how much it costs and the rules and regulations that govern it. It also gives an overview of the financial assistance programs that may help cover this type of care and free and low-cost resources for seniors and families who’ve been affected by Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

The Cost of Memory Care in Virginia

In Virginia, memory support services are typically provided in dementia care units, also referred to as special care units, in assisted living facilities. These units have added safety and security measures in place, and staff must complete additional training. Memory support services also feature specialized programming to meet the needs of residents with dementia. As a result, memory care is typically 20-30% more expensive than standard assisted living services. The following cost comparisons are based on assisted living costs, with adjustments made to reflect the higher price of memory support services.

Memory Care Costs in Nearby States

Based on data published in Genworth Financial’s 2019 Cost of Care Survey, memory services in Virginia cost $6,000 per month on average, which is about 16% higher than the national average of $5,064. Virginia is one of the costlier states for this type of care, both in the nation as a whole and compared to its bordering states. In Maryland, which borders Virginia on the north, seniors pay about $625 less per month for memory care. West Virginia, Kentucky and North Carolina all fall below Virginia and the nation as a whole, with respective costs averaging $4,688, $4,371 and $5,000.

$6000

Virginia

$5064

National

$5375

Maryland

$4688

West Virginia

$4371

Kentucky

$5000

North Carolina

Cost of Other Types of Care in Virginia

Memory care is well-suited for seniors who are living with moderate to severe dementia, but it isn’t the only senior care option available in the state. Nursing home care is the most intensive type of care and also the costliest, with semiprivate accommodations averaging $7,350 per month. Seniors typically pay $4,800 per month for assisted living, which provides lodging, meals and assistance with daily living activities. For those who prefer to receive services in their own home, in-home care services cost $4,195 per month on average, and skilled home health care costs $4,382. Adult day care is the cheapest senior care option, with fees averaging $1,603 per month.

$6000

Memory Care

$4195

In-Home Care

$4382

Home Health Care

$1603

Adult Day Care

$4800

Assisted Living Facility

$7350

Nursing Home Care

The Cost of Memory Care in Virginia’s Top Cities

Comparing Costs Across Virginia

On average, Virginia residents pay $6,000 monthly for memory care. However, costs vary widely across the state based on factors such as location, the number of facilities available versus the demand, and facility amenities and pricing structure. In Richmond, the state’s capital city, memory care residents pay a little more than the state average, at $6,060 monthly. In Blacksburg, average costs are on par with the state average. In Winchester and Charlottesville, monthly costs are higher, at $7,000 and $7,244, respectively. In the southeastern coastal city of Virginia Beach, memory services are relatively affordable at $5,784 per month.

$6060

Richmond

$5784

Virginia Beach Area

$6000

Blacksburg Area

$7000

Winchester

$7244

Charlottesville

Financial Assistance for Memory Care in Virginia

Virginia Commonwealth Coordinated Care Plus Medicaid Waiver

Virginia Medicaid covers memory care services through the CCC+ waiver program, which pays for an array of services to help seniors obtain the care they need and avoid or delay nursing home placement. Services may include personal care, assistive technology and skilled private duty nursing. Program participants are assigned Care Coordinators who work with them to create a health care plan that addresses their needs. The Care Coordinators answer questions about health care services, schedule and arrange transportation for doctor’s appointments and help with accessing community and social services.

Who Is Eligible?
To be eligible for CCC+, applicants must be 65 years or older, and they must require a nursing home level care. Income and asset limits may apply.

How to Apply
To find out more about this waiver program, seniors should call the CCC+ Helpline at 844-374-9159. To apply for services, individuals should contact their local Department of Social Services.

Auxiliary Grant Program

Low-income seniors who receive Supplemental Security Income and reside in a memory care facility may be eligible for the Auxiliary Grant Program. This program pays a monthly benefit in addition to the federal SSI payment and varies between $519 and $686 per month for individuals, depending on the type of facility they live in. It covers room-and-board expenses such as housekeeping and laundry, medication administration and assistance with arranging transportation, along with other memory care-related fees. Beneficiaries are also permitted a personal needs allowance for buying items like toiletries, snacks and over-the-counter medications. It’s important to note that not all memory care facilities accept payment from the Auxiliary Grant Program.

Who Is Eligible?
To be eligible for this program, applicants must be at least 65 years old and reside in Virginia for at least 90 days prior to applying, with the intent of staying in Virginia. They must meet income and asset guidelines and be assessed by an approved evaluation to determine eligibility. They must also apply for or already be receiving SSI.

How to Apply
To apply for services, seniors must submit a completed application to an eligibility worker at the local Department of Social Services in the city or county where they lived prior to admission into a memory care facility.

Free and Low-Cost Memory Care Resources in Virginia

Virginia has an array of free and low-cost resources that support seniors and family members who are affected by Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. These programs provide referrals, options counseling and free or affordable services throughout the state.

ResourceContactServices
Alzheimer’s Association800-272-3900The Alzheimer’s Association has four chapters in Virginia: the Central and Western Virginia Chapter, the Greater Richmond Chapter, the National Capital Area Chapter and the Southeastern Virginia Chapter. These local offices provide a variety of resources for Virginians, including community education, fundraising events, volunteer opportunities and referrals.
Dementia Services804-662-9154The Office for Aging Services provides Dementia Services throughout the state for those living with Alzheimer’s or dementia. The Office coordinates services and activities and oversees initiatives such as the Dementia State Plan, Brain Health Virginia and dementia-capable training.
Virginia’s Network for Healthy Aging804-545-1644The state’s Network for Healthy Aging operates 25 local area agencies on aging. These agencies provide an array of services for seniors, including transportation, home-delivered meals and case management.
VA Insurance Counseling and Assistance Program804-662-9333VICAP provides free, unbiased health insurance counseling for seniors. Counselors are trained to give advice regarding Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans, prescription drug counseling and long-term care insurance.
Senior Legal Helpline844-802-5910The Senior Legal Helpline is a free service that provides assistance, advice and referrals for Virginia residents aged 60 and over. Callers can speak to attorneys regarding topics such as long-term care issues, abuse and neglect, and public benefits like Medicaid.
Virginia 211211Virginia 211 is a free service that helps seniors and caregivers connect with local resources, such as case management, nutritional programs and nonmedical transportation. Individuals call the toll-free number and speak to a trained professional who listens to their situation and makes recommendations for local services and organizations that may help.
Adult Services Program804-662-7000The state’s Adult Services Program promotes independence and self-sufficiency in the lives of older adults. Some services it offers include long-term care services and supports screening and assisted living facility assessments and reassessments.
Virginia Department of Veterans Services804-786-0286The Virginia Department of Veterans Services provides eligible veterans and their spouses with access to federal and state benefits that may help them afford memory care services. Along with providing referrals, the Department can assist veterans in applying for the Aid and Attendance benefit or the VA pension.

Memory Care Laws and Regulations in Virginia

In Virginia, memory support is provided in special care units or dementia care units, which may be freestanding or located within an assisted living facility. These facilities are governed by the Department of Social Services, which has rules and regulations pertaining to staffing and scope of care.

Scope of CareMemory care facilities must provide at least 16 hours of scheduled services weekly. These include activities that support gross and fine motor skills, cognitive stimulation and social or natural world activities like having a picnic. Facilities must meet residents’ physical, social and emotional needs, provide protection and supervision, promote a secure environment and foster resident involvement and engagement. Residents receive moderate assistance with two or more activities of daily living, along with living accommodations and three meals daily. The facility may provide intermittent nursing services directly or contract a nurse from a licensed home care agency.
Care PlansThe facility must conduct an assessment for a resident prior to admission and then once every 12 months or following a significant change in physical or cognitive abilities. Additionally, memory care residents’ care plans must outline services based on an assessment from a mental health provider.
Medication ManagementThe Department must review a facility’s medication management plan, which should include details regarding medication storage, staff qualifications, administration protocol, medication reviews and oxygen therapy. Residents may self-administer medications if they’re capable of doing so and have a safe place in their room to store medications. Medications can only be administered by licensed nurses or physicians or by medication aides who’ve completed an approved training program, passed a competency evaluation and are registered with the Virginia Board of Nursing. A licensed health professional must review memory care residents’ medications every six months.
StaffingEach facility must have an administrator to oversee day-to-day operations, direct care staff and medication aides. No minimum staffing ratios are imposed by the state, but facilities must have sufficient staffing to care for scheduled and unscheduled needs. At least two direct care staff members must be awake and on duty at all times, and enough direct care staff must be present on field trips to supervise and care for residents. A designated staff member who’s responsible for planning structured activities must be on-site at least 20 hours weekly.
Medicaid CoverageVirginia Medicaid covers memory support through its Commonwealth Coordinated Care Plus Medicaid Waiver, which covers expenses such as personal care assistance, durable medical equipment, personal emergency response systems and skilled private duty nursing.
Reporting AbuseAbuse, neglect or exploitation should be reported to the Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman by calling 800-552-3402.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does memory care cost in Virginia?

Based on the cost of assisted living, memory care services in Virginia range from $5,760 to $6,240 per month, with the monthly fee for this level of care averaging $6,000. This is considerably higher than the national average.

Does Virginia Medicaid pay for memory care?

Virginia Medicaid doesn’t cover memory services directly. However, the state’s Commonwealth Coordinated Care Plus Medicaid Waiver covers care provided in an assisted living facility, including one that provides memory support.

Does Medicare pay for memory care?

Medicare doesn’t pay for memory care services provided in residential care communities, though it does cover doctor’s visits and medications used to treat dementia symptoms. In some cases, Medicare Advantage plans, which are offered by private insurers, provide additional benefits and may cover some memory support services.

What are activities of daily living?

Activities of daily living are basic self-care tasks that must be completed on a daily basis, such as bathing, toileting and dressing. Similarly, instrumental activities of daily living are tasks that are necessary but don’t directly relate to personal care, such as preparing food or doing laundry.

What is the difference between memory care and assisted living?

While both memory care and assisted living offer personal care services, living accommodations and meals, memory care provides specialized programming specifically for those with memory impairments. Dementia care units also have added safety and security features to monitor residents and prevent wandering, and staff has additional training for handling common dementia-related issues.