Washington is a popular state for older adults to settle in. Nearly 16% of the state’s 7.7 million residents are 65 or over. Of these 1.2 million seniors, more than 120,000 are living with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. The number of people with Alzheimer’s is expected to increase as the senior population expands, and similarly, the rate of dementia diagnoses is likely to increase as Washington’s seniors live longer than ever before. Each year, more than 3,500 seniors die from Alzheimer’s disease and its complications.

The wide-open countryside of Washington surrounds the few large cities with misty pine forests in the west of the state and broad arid hills in the east. The state’s mild summers encourage year-round outdoor activities, and seniors near Seattle, Tacoma and the other western cities can find plenty of accessible trails through the woods. Because Washington has no state income tax, Social Security and other forms of retirement income are free from state-level taxation. Seniors with medical needs benefit from Washington’s lower-than-average health costs. On average, memory care in residential facilities costs $7,500 a month in Washington.

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 provides an overview of common costs associated with memory care in Washington. It compares these costs to other types of long-term care, as well as to costs for memory care in nearby areas. It also includes helpful information about financing memory care, state-level regulations that govern facilities and a list of resources for seniors and their families.

The Cost of Memory Care in Washington

Note: Memory care is most often delivered in residential senior living communities, sometimes called assisted living facilities, where specially trained staff can help seniors with Alzheimer’s with the therapy they need. No national database exists that tracks the cost of memory care, but rates tend to run 20%-30% higher than the cost of room and care in an assisted living facility. To get the most accurate figures possible, we’ve arrived at memory care costs by adding 25% to the baseline cost for assisted living in the area, as obtained from Genworth’s 2021 Cost of Care Survey.

At $7,500 a month, the cost of memory care in Washington is significantly higher than in neighboring Idaho ($4,798), as well as in other nearby states, such as Oregon ($6,306) and California ($6,563). 

$7500

Washington

$5625

The United States

$6306

Oregon

$4798

Idaho

$6563

California

Memory care rates vary within Washington depending on location. At the low end, memory care in Walla Walla costs an average of $4,014 a month. Costs are higher but still under the state average in Bellingham and Kennewick, where memory care runs to $5,750 and $6,531 a month, respectively. Memory care costs an average of $6,006 in Olympia, while costs are at their highest in Bremerton and Seattle. Memory care costs $7,188 a month in the former and $8,438 in the latter.

$7188

Bremerton

$6006

Olympia

$8438

Seattle

$5750

Bellingham

$6531

Kennewick

$4014

Walla Walla

Memory care is just one option seniors have for long-term residential care. For many seniors, other levels of care can be both more appropriate and more affordable. Adult day health care in Washington, for example, costs an average of $2,654 a month, while the cost of assisted living is $5,045. Home care and home health care are both less expensive than memory care in Washington, at average monthly costs of $6,006 and $6,101, respectively. Nursing home care in the state tends to be more expensive than residential memory care. The average cost for a semiprivate room in a skilled nursing facility in Washington is $10,342 a month, while private rooms average $11,113. 

$2654

Adult Day Health Care

$5045

Assisted Living

$6006

Home Care

$6101

Home Health Care

$7500

Memory Care

$10342

Nursing Home (semiprivate)

$11113

Nursing Home (private)

Does Medicaid Cover Memory Care in Washington?

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 Washington.

Seniors in Washington who need memory care services have a large number of statewide programs available to lend financial support and other assistance to meet their care needs. Many state programs have income and asset requirements that parallel the eligibility criteria for Apple Health, the Washington Medicaid program.

What Memory Care Services Are Covered by Medicaid in Washington?

In addition to the various waivers seniors who need memory care may be able to get through Apple Health, the program directly supports beneficiaries’ medical needs for as long as they’re enrolled in the program. These needs may be directly related to Alzheimer’s disease or other cognitive issues, such as speech and occupational therapy, or they may be unrelated health issues, such as wound care and diabetes management. More information about covered Medicaid services in Washington is available through the Apple Health website.

Memory Care Waiver Programs in Washington

Community Options Program Entry System Waiver

COPES is a waiver program for Medicaid participants who need home and community-based services to look after their needs. The COPES program provides adult day health care, home-delivered meals and nursing services for seniors with medical issues, such as wound care and dementia management. Transportation assistance and durable medical equipment can also be obtained through a COPES waiver, which is available to seniors living at home or in a residential care facility. 

To qualify for a COPES waiver, seniors in Washington must meet the income and other eligibility criteria for participation in Apple Health. They must also have a medical need that would otherwise require placement in long-term care. Seniors and their families can learn more about the COPES waiver and apply online at the program’s web portal or by visiting an intake worker at a local Home & Community Services office.

Residential Support Waiver

The Residential Support Waiver provides support to seniors who need enhanced residential care in community-based settings licensed by the state. Services offered include personal care from a trained caregiver and supervision and support for behavioral issues such as wandering. The Residential Support Waiver is open to applicants who meet Apple Health eligibility guidelines and need assistance due to Alzheimer’s disease, other cognitive impairments and traumatic brain injuries, which can also include stroke. Applications may be submitted online or at a local HCS office.

Community First Choice

The CFC program provides personal care services, nursing and nurse-delegated services (such as blood draws and medication assistance), installation of assistive technology and community transition services. Eligible participants must meet Apple Health intake guidelines and have a level of functional impairment that justifies placement in a skilled nursing facility. 

Seniors currently enrolled in Apple Health can apply for a CFC waiver through a social service intake at their local HCS office. Adults who aren’t enrolled in Medicaid must undergo an eligibility screening through the HCS office or online.

Specialized Dementia Care Program

The Specialized Dementia Care Program offers a set of services tailored to the needs of seniors with dementia who reside in a licensed long-term care facility. Financial support delivered through the program can go toward hiring personal care attendants, paying for supervision and intermittent nursing support. Periodic caregiver training is also provided for dementia-specific issues.

Seniors may be eligible for the Specialized Dementia Care Program if they have a diagnosis of dementia from a physician and otherwise meet Apple Health enrollment criteria. Benefits are delivered through licensed assisted living facilities, which are where seniors and families can request an application. For seniors who aren’t enrolled in Medicaid, applications can be made either online or through a local HCS office.

How To Know If You’re Eligible for Medicaid in Washington

In order to sign up for Apple Health, seniors in Washington must meet the enrollment criteria set by state law. Nonfinancial requirements include:

  • U.S. citizenship (or other legal status in the United States, such as permanent residency) and residency in the state of Washington
  • Being an adult aged 65 or over, legally blind or having another qualifying disability
  • Having a family member in the household who meets the enrollment criteria

In addition to the general eligibility guidelines, Apple Health also has financial limits. At the time of application, an intake worker evaluates the applicant’s income and assets over the previous 60 months to establish the financial need for Medicaid coverage. Income and asset limits must not exceed program maximums.

2022 Medicaid Income Limits for Seniors in Washington

 

Income Limits* 

Asset Limits

Single Applicant

$30,276

$2,000

Two-Person Household

(Only One Person Applying)

$30,276 (applicant only)

$137,400

Two-Person Household
(Both People Applying)

$60,552

$3,000

*Per year

Washington seniors who meet the over-65 requirement for enrollment but have an income higher than the program maximum may still be able to apply for Apple Health. In this case, the beneficiary may qualify for more limited coverage with an annual spend-down amount. Once the annual out-of-pocket limit is reached, Apple Health benefits are able to pick up the remaining share of cost. 

How To Apply for Medicaid in Washington

Seniors can apply for Medicaid in several ways. Applications may be submitted directly through the Apple Health website, by phone or in person at a local HCS office. Seniors and their families can also call the statewide Medicaid helpline at (800) 200-1004.

Information You Will Need

New applicants for Apple Health must establish that they meet the financial and other eligibility standards to participate in the program. To do this, it may be necessary to engage in a telephone interview with a program worker and submit documents relating to financial transactions over the preceding 60 months. Documents you may be asked for include:

  • Government ID that verifies the applicant’s citizenship and residency status
  • Copies of the title to the applicant’s home and any vehicles owned
  • Copies of any burial arrangements or title deeds for prepaid burial plots
  • Professional appraisals to verify the current market value of the applicant’s home
  • Income tax returns for the past five years
  • Copies of the applicant’s will, power of attorney documents and any other records related to real estate, financial assets or care arrangements

How To Get Help Applying for Medicaid

In Florida, seniors who need assistance applying for Medicaid can contact the ACCESS Customer Call Center. Application assistance is also available through local senior service agencies, which can be located by calling Florida’s Department of Elder Affairs Elder Helpline. Some senior centers may offer free Medicaid counseling and workshops for seniors who need help completing their Medicaid application. 

Program

Contact

Services Provided

(360) 725-3548

Area Agencies on Aging provide location-specific support for seniors who need assistance applying for Apple Health and other benefit programs.  

(360) 725-2300

Washington's Aging and Long-Term Support Administration provides advice, case management and referrals for seniors who need help signing up for coverage. Other services provided by the administration include protective services reporting and long-term care placement services.

Online

The online-only Washington Health Plan Finder helps seniors find out whether they're eligible for Apple Health assistance, apply for benefits and find long-term care waivers to support them in memory care.

Does Medicare Cover Memory Care in Washington?

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

Other Financial Assistance Options for Memory Care in Washington

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.

 

How to Apply

How It Works

Aid and Attendance

Learn more and apply online at va.gov.

Veterans 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 towards paying for Memory Care.

Reverse Mortgages

Learn more about your options and how to apply at ftc.gov

If 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) Insurance

Learn more about Long-Term Care Insurance and how to apply for a policy at acl.gov.

Seniors 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.

Free and Low-Cost Resources for Seniors in Washington

Seniors with dementia frequently need help finding and applying for the assistance they need to take care of themselves. Caregivers and families might also need free and low-cost options when finding and arranging care for their senior loved one. Washington government and nongovernment organizations provide many resources that can help with everything from information and referrals to placement assistance, transportation matters and even home-delivered meals. 

Program 

Contact

Services Provided

(360) 725-3548

Seniors can get regular contact with social and physical caregivers through their local ADRC. Local ADRC offices provide referrals and enrollment for caregiver assistance, social engagement and daily telephone contact by volunteers. Friendly visits and check-in services are also available for the seniors who need them. Remote and telephone contacts are available for all Washington seniors aged 55 and over, up to five times a week.

(800) 677-1116

The federal ACL brings affordable and high-quality home and community based care options to seniors and adults with disabilities through state-level partners. The ACL has a list of trusted local providers and caregivers, as well as services to help independent seniors to age in place. Referrals and placement assistance are also available for residential care options, and limited case manager services from program staff can help seniors connect with the care options they need to thrive at any level of ability.

(360) 725-2300

DAC offers a large number of free resources for seniors with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia, as well as for their families. Care planning, caregiver training and referrals are available statewide, as are awareness training resources and workshops for memory care providers. The organization also provides a free online tool for seniors and families to better understand memory impairment with an online Dementia Road Map.

(800) 562-6028

ALTSA is a statewide education and training organization devoted to providing support for caregivers and seniors with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia. The program hosts an annual the Taking Care, Giving Care conference to provide technical training for caregivers, and enrolled care providers can receive news and updates through the member website and printed information packets.

(253) 288-7442

WSASC connects seniors with the resources they need to stay healthy and live as independently as possible at any level of care. Services are delivered through the state's senior centers and include caregiver training and referrals, information services, social events and case manager services to help locate programs and other support networks seniors may need. All seniors aged 60 and over are welcome to participate in WSASC activities, though full membership in Washington costs a nominal annual fee.

COVID-19 Rules for Memory Care in Virginia

The following information is based on research done on several government websites, including dshs.wa.gov and cdc.gov. These rules apply to nursing homes and other types of senior living facilities. We’ve most recently updated this data on 5/4/2022, but since COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving pandemic, contact your local senior living facility or Area Agency on Aging for more specific and up-to-date information.

Visitation Policies

Rules for Washington Communities

Are loved ones allowed to visit to provide emotional support?

Yes (Conditions Apply)

Are relatives allowed to visit for end-of-life care?

Yes

Are residents required to quarantine after visiting with a loved one?

No

Are visitors required to wear PPE (including masks) in order to visit residents?

Yes

Are non-medical contractors (such as hairdressers and entertainers) allowed in senior living facilities?

Yes

Does the state recommend or require that senior living facilities assist families with setting up virtual visit alternatives?

Yes

Are visitors checked for elevated temperatures?

Yes

Are visitors required to answer questions about health, travel, and potential virus contact?

Yes

Outings & Social Activities

Rules for Washington Communities

Are residents allowed to leave (errands, visiting family, etc.) for non-medical reasons?

Yes

Are residents who leave required to quarantine when they return?

No (Conditions Apply)

Are senior living communities required to cancel all group outings?

No

Are residents allowed to eat meals together in a common area?

Yes (Conditions Apply)

Are residents allowed to gather in common areas for group activites?

Yes (Conditions Apply)

COVID-19 Safety Measures for Staff and Residents

Rules for Washington Communities

Are staff members regularly required to do a temperature check?

Yes

Are staff members regularly tested for COVID-19?

Yes (Conditions Apply)

Are staff members members regularly required to do a health and safety screening, including questions about travel, contact with positive cases, etc?

Yes

Are residents regularly screened for COVID-19 symptoms?

Yes

Are residents regularly checked for elevated temperatures?

No

Are residents regularly tested for COVID-19?

Yes (Conditions Apply)

Memory Care Laws and Regulations in Washington

There are licensed assisted living facilities and adult family homes in Washington with specialty care designations for dementia as well as facilities that are solely dedicated to memory care. The Department of Social and Health Services governs these facilities through the Aging and Long-Term Support Administration’s Residential Care Services division. In addition, those that accept Medicaid are contracted by the DSHS through the Enhanced Adult Residential Care – Specialized Dementia Care program.

MEMORY CARE LAWS AND REGULATIONS IN WASHINGTON
Scope of Care
Using the Department's approved disclosure forms, each facility must disclose to interested consumers upon request the scope of care and services it offers. Disclosure forms should not be construed as implied or express service contracts.
Care Plans
An assisted living facility or adult family home must complete a resident's negotiated care plan, with reference to a preliminary service plan and completed assessment. The negotiated service agreement must be completed within 30 days of the resident's admission. Care plan reviews or revisions must be done at least during annual assessments or as necessary.
Medication Management
A negotiated service agreement must indicate if the facility would provide medication assistance or perform medication administration for the resident. There must be a detailed written agreement for arrangements where a resident's family member performs the assistance or administration of medications and treatments.
Staffing
A facility must have at least one caregiver present and available to assist residents with their needs. Dementia specialty training is required for all staff members in facilities serving residents with cognitive conditions.
Medicaid Coverage
Apple Health covers the costs of home and community-based services in long-term care facilities through Medicaid waivers, state plans and alternative programs. Eligible residents are those who require a nursing home level of care and meet certain financial criteria.
Reporting Abuse
Owners and employees of licensed residential care facilities are mandated to report the abuse, abandonment, neglect and financial exploitation of vulnerable adults. An online incident report must be submitted to the DSHS Complaint Resolution Unit, which may also be contacted at (800) 562-6078.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does memory care cost in Washington?

Memory care in Washington costs an average of $7,500 per month.

Are there financial assistance programs for memory care in Washington?

Yes. The Specialized Dementia Care Program for Apple Health-eligible individuals is offered in contracted facilities that accept Medicaid. In addition, there are other Medicaid waivers and alternative programs with different income eligibility requirements.

What are activities of daily living?

Activities of daily living, or ADLs, are routine tasks that require fundamental self-care skills and include eating, bathing, dressing, personal hygiene and mobility. The ability to perform these ADLs helps determine whether an individual needs long-term care.

What types of services does memory care provide?

Aside from residential accommodations and meals, some of the usual services provided in memory care facilities include 24-hour supervision, assistance with ADLs and a range of cognitive and sensory activities such as music, brain games, reminiscence, color therapy and aromatherapy. Rehabilitation, medication assistance and psychology/psychiatry services may also be available.

What types of facilities offer memory care?

A memory care facility can be a standalone residential care facility or a special care unit in an assisted living facility, nursing home or continuing care retirement community of various sizes.