Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States, but it’s the third most common cause in the state of Washington. About 120,000 seniors in the state have been diagnosed with this disease as of 2018, with a projected increase of 27.3% by 2025. In addition to a significant percentage of hospice patients and rehospitalized individuals with dementia, the Evergreen State is identified to have the third-highest Alzheimer’s death rate in the country.

To support the needs of seniors with dementia, memory care facilities throughout Washington offer secure, homelike environments, specially trained caregivers and therapeutic wellness programs. These programs usually include mind-stimulating activities, regular health monitoring, brain-healthy diets and reminiscence therapy through storytelling and life journey stations.

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 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 presents comprehensive information about memory care in Washington, including estimated costs, available financial assistance programs, a free resource directory and highlights regarding government regulations.

The Cost of Memory Care in Washington

Memory care in Washington is provided in assisted living facilities with dedicated memory care neighborhoods and in adult family homes with licensed specialty care designations. Due to the higher level of care required for residents with dementia, the cost of memory care is usually 20 to 30% more than assisted living. The increased pricing is normally attributed to specialized staff training, higher staff ratios, enhanced security systems and dementia-focused care programs. While memory care cost comparisons are based on the adjustment of assisted living costs, actual rates may vary based on the facility’s pricing structure, location and services.

Memory Care Costs in Nearby States

Washington’s average memory care cost of $6,875 per month is higher than most states, based on Genworth Financial’s Cost of Care Survey for 2019. The Evergreen State is also the most expensive in the American Northwest, followed by neighboring Oregon, which is around $1,250 less costly, at $5,624. Idaho, another bordering state, is even more affordable at $4,660, saving seniors about $2,200 compared to Washington. Montana’s average memory care cost, at $4,775, is also affordable but slightly higher than Idaho, while California’s average is comparable to Oregon.

$6875

Washington

$5064

National

$5624

Oregon

$4660

Idaho

$4775

Montana

$5625

California

Cost of Other Types of Care in Washington

At $6,875 per month, memory care is one of the costliest senior care options in Washington. However, it’s a less expensive alternative than institutionalization. The average cost of nursing home care in the state is about $2,200 more costly, at $9,112. Memory care facilities provide a higher level of care compared to assisted living communities, which cost nearly $1,400 less, at $5,500 per month.

For seniors who prefer care arrangements at home, in-home care is $1,060 cheaper than memory care, while home health care costs $1,155 less. While home health care may include supportive clinical services compared to in-home care, memory care facilities also offer these services in addition to residential accommodations, meals and around-the-clock care. Adult day care is an affordable option at $1,441 per month, but its limited scope of care may not properly accommodate those who require higher levels of care.

$6875

Memory Care

$5720

In-Home Care

$5815

Home Health Care

$1441

Adult Day Care

$5500

Assisted Living Facility

$9112

Nursing Home Care

The Cost of Memory Care in Washington’s Top Cities

Washington’s average memory care costs generally vary by region. The Puget Sound area has some of the most expensive areas for memory care, particularly Seattle, which has the highest average cost in the state, at $8,125 per month. Olympia, the state capital, is considered mid-priced at $6,563. Puget Sound’s western side is a more affordable option, with Bremerton priced at $5,904. The most affordable coastal area for memory care is up north at Bellingham, which averages $5,144 for memory care. On the eastern side, Spokane is the state’s most affordable major city at $5,000. Yakima, Central Washington’s largest city, has a below-average cost of $6,250.

$8125

Seattle

$5000

Spokane

$6563

Olympia

$6250

Yakima

$5144

Bellingham

$5719

Kennewick

$5904

Bremerton

Financial Assistance for Memory Care in Washington

Community Options Program Entry System Waiver

COPES is a Medicaid waiver that provides home and community-based services in the beneficiary’s community of choice. Services may include adult day health, skilled nursing, home-delivered meals, transportation and specialized medical equipment and supplies. These services may be provided in the individual’s home or a licensed residential facility.

Who Is Eligible?
Adults who are qualified for a nursing home level of care may be eligible for COPES if they meet the financial criteria for Apple Health (Washington’s Medicaid program) based on income and resource limits.

How to Apply
Applications may be made online or by visiting a local Home & Community Services office.

Residential Support Waiver

The Residential Support Waiver provides services and supports to individuals in need of enhanced residential care in licensed community-based settings. These services may include personal care and assistance, behavioral support and supervision related to certain conditions, including cognitive impairment, traumatic brain injury and mental illness.

Who Is Eligible?
Individuals who are eligible for a nursing facility level of care and meet the income and resource criteria for Apple Health may qualify for the Residential Support Waiver.

How to Apply
Potential recipients can make an online application or visit a local HCS office.

Community First Choice

The CFC program is a Washington Apple Health state plan that provides long-term services and supports to adults living at home and in licensed residential care establishments such as adult family homes and memory care facilities. This program may include personal care services, nurse-delegated services, assistive technology, RN services and one-time community transition services.

Who Is Eligible?
Adults who are functionally eligible for a nursing facility level of care must qualify financially under the Apple Health plan’s Categorically Needy or Alternate Benefit Plan scope of care. Otherwise, the applicant must be financially eligible for a Medicaid home and community-based waiver.

How to Apply
Current Apple Health beneficiaries may have a social service intake with the assistance of a local HCS office. Those who are not receiving Medicaid need to undergo initial screening through their HCS office or online.

Specialized Dementia Care Program

The Specialized Dementia Care Program provides a specialized service package for individuals with dementia who need financial support while residing in Apple Health-contracted assisted living facilities. This package may include personal care, supervision, intermittent nursing services and dementia-specific staff training.

Who Is Eligible?
Eligible individuals must be diagnosed with dementia and qualify to receive Medicaid benefits.

How to Apply
Seniors who are already Apple Health recipients may contact participating assisted living facilities. Otherwise, initial applications for Medicaid must be made online or through a local HCS office.

Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly

PACE is a Medicare program that provides a range of health care and social services to older adults in designated community centers and their own homes. In addition to primary care, rehabilitation services, meals and social activities in PACE centers, participants may also benefit from home health care based on customized care plans.

Who Is Eligible?
Citizens 55 and older who require a nursing home level of care must be residents in service areas (based on zip codes) covered by PACE centers, and they must be able to live safely in their communities.

How to Apply
Local PACE centers may be contacted for inquiries regarding enrollment.

Free and Low-Cost Memory Care Resources in Washington

There are plenty of local and statewide senior long-term care and dementia-focused programs available to older Washingtonians. These free resources offer referrals and guidance for seniors and their families, as well as helpful documents and tools for learning, planning and finding local support.

ResourceContactServices
Alzheimer’s Association Washington State Chapter


(800) 272-3900The Washington State Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association serves 47 counties in Washington and Northern Idaho. It has offices in Lynnwood, Tukwila and Spokane in Washington, and Coeur d’Alene and Richland in Idaho. It offers educational and advocacy programs, community forums, support groups and volunteer opportunities. Its Connections Care Consultation Program provides personalized assessments, care coordination, service referrals and ongoing support for families in King and Snohomish counties, as well as free phone consultations for families in other service areas.
Community Living Connections (CLC)(855) 567-0252Washington’s CLC network is the state’s Area Agencies on Aging. Each CLC offers information and referrals, options counseling and assistance in navigating local programs and services for seniors and their caregivers.
Dementia Action Collaborative (DAC)


(360) 725-2300In addition to advocacy work and assistance implementing Washington’s Alzheimer’s State Plan for creating dementia-friendly communities, the DAC offers information and resources for families, provides screening tools for care providers and hosts meetings that are open to the public.
Momentia


(206) 744-2017Momentia is a Seattle-based movement that empowers memory-impaired seniors and their families, promoting community involvement through various dementia-friendly programs. The movement’s initiatives have been adopted in other areas throughout Washington, and these programs include Alzheimer’s Cafes, partner senior center activities, Early Stage Memory Loss improvisation classes, day camps and other community events.
End of Life Washington – Dementia Directives


(206) 256-1636Endorsed by the Alzheimer’s Association Washington Chapter, the “Living With Dementia Mental Health Advance Directive” by End of Life Washington is an advance planning document that records a diagnosed individual’s wishes, preferences and instructions regarding care and treatment, finances, family arrangements and other life situations.

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.

Scope of CareUsing 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 PlansAn 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 ManagementA 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.
StaffingA 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 CoverageApple 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 AbuseOwners 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?

The average cost of memory care in Washington is $6,875 per month, about 36% higher than the U.S. average. While this type of care is estimated to be 20 to 30% more expensive than standard assisted living, it’s about 25% more affordable than nursing home care.

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.