As Wisconsin’s population continues to age, the number of residents living with Alzheimer’s and other memory-related conditions is growing. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 120,000 Wisconsinites have Alzheimer’s in 2020, and this number is expected to increase by over 8% by 2025. While this condition has a profound effect on the daily lives of those living with this condition as well as nearly 200,000 caregivers, it also has an impact on public health. In 2017, there were 1,510 hospital visits for every 1,000 people with dementia. Alzheimer’s is also associated with an increase in emergency room visits and higher hospital readmission rates. Moreover, this condition is the sixth leading cause of death in Wisconsin, with nearly 2,500 deaths resulting from Alzheimer’s disease in 2018.

As Alzheimer’s progresses, many seniors and families seek out the services provided by memory care communities. In Wisconsin, memory care services are offered in licensed assisted living facilities called community-based residential facilities that have the staff and services to accommodate those with dementia. These specialized facilities have activity programming for residents with dementia, and staff members have additional training on providing quality care for those with memory-related conditions.

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 memory care in Wisconsin, including its associated costs, the financial aid options that are available to residents, free community resources for seniors and families and the rules and regulations that memory care communities must abide by.

The Cost of Memory Care in Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, memory care is generally provided in assisted living facilities that meet additional regulations pertaining to specialized support. Because facilities that offer memory care are required to have additional safety and security features, more extensive staff training requirements and an overall higher level of care for residents with dementia, monthly costs for memory care are generally 20%-30% higher than for assisted living. The cost comparisons listed below are based on the average cost of assisted living with appropriate adjustments. Exact memory care costs vary by the facility’s location, services and amenities and pricing structure.

Memory Care Costs in Nearby States

In Wisconsin, memory care is considerably costlier than in the country as a whole, averaging $5,437 per month versus $5,064 nationally. Based on figures published in Genworth Financial’s 2019 Cost of Care Survey, Wisconsin is also more expensive for memory care than its bordering states. In Michigan, which lies to the northeast of Wisconsin, seniors pay about $437 less per month for this type of care, and in Illinois, which borders from the south, memory support costs about $224 less monthly. Iowa’s monthly costs are roughly on par with the national average at $5,098. The most affordable state in the region for memory care services in Minnesota, where seniors pay about $4,750.

$5437

Wisconsin

$5064

National

$5000

Michigan

$5213

Illinois

$5098

Iowa

$4750

Minnesota

Cost of Other Types of Care in Wisconsin

With monthly costs averaging $5,437, memory care is the second most expensive type of senior care in Wisconsin. Its cost is surpassed only by nursing home facilities, which provide around-the-clock skilled nursing services in a hospital-like environment. On average, nursing home care in Wisconsin is about $2,800 more expensive than memory support. Conversely, assisted living services typically have a more homelike environment and offer a lesser degree of care. Residents pay $4,350 per month for this type of care. For seniors who prefer to remain in their homes while receiving assistance with daily living activities, in-home care and adult day care are more affordable options at $4,767 and $1,560 per month, respectively.

$5437

Memory Care

$4767

In-Home Care

$4767

Home Health Care

$1560

Adult Day Care

$4350

Assisted Living Facility

$8273

Nursing Home Care

The Cost of Memory Care in Wisconsin’s Top Cities

Comparing Costs Across Wisconsin

Across the largest cities in Wisconsin, memory care costs vary by about $1,000, ranging from $4,938 to $5,985 per month. Madison, which is located in the state’s south-central region, is among the more affordable cities at $4,938 per month for this level of care. In the northeastern city of Green Bay, care is a little costlier at $5,500, and in Appleton, seniors pay $5,591 on average of memory support services. In the capital city of Milwaukee, memory care is $5,606. Racine is one of the most expensive cities in the state for specialized care at $5,985 per month.

$5606

Milwaukee

$4938

Madison

$5500

Green Bay

$5985

Racine

$5591

Appleton

Financial Assistance for Memory Care in Wisconsin

IRIS Program

The Include, Respect, I Self Direct program, or IRIS, provides services and supports to disabled or frail seniors, letting them avoid nursing home placement. Case managers work with program participants to establish goals and then determine what services and supports are necessary to achieve those goals. Based on recommended services and supports, participants are given a budget that they can use to hire caregivers, purchase durable medical equipment and pay for services. Some services that the IRIS program may cover include nursing services, personal care and transportation.

Who Is Eligible?
To be eligible for the IRIS program, seniors must reside in their own homes, adult family homes, group homes or approved assisted living facilities. They must also meet Medicaid’s income and asset limits.

How to Apply
To apply for IRIS, seniors should contact their local Aging and Disability Resource Center.

Family Care Programs

Wisconsin Medicaid covers memory care services through Family Care Programs, which cover personal, non-medical care for seniors, enabling them to delay or avoid nursing home placement. This benefit may be used to pay for in-home care or care in an assisted living facility. Some services that it covers include transportation, meal delivery, home and vehicle modifications and respite services.

Who Is Eligible?
To be eligible for this Medicaid waiver program, applicants must be at least 65 years old and meet Medicaid’s long-term care income requirements. As of 2020, single applicants can have a monthly income of up to $2,313 and married applicants can have a joint income of up to $4,626. Additionally, they must have proven long-term care needs.

How to Apply
Applicants should contact their nearest Aging and Disability Resource Center, which can provide guidance in verifying eligibility and applying for benefits.

Wisconsin Supplemental Security Income Exceptional Expense Supplement

Low-income seniors who qualify for Supplemental Security Income may qualify to receive additional money through the state’s Exceptional Expense Supplement. This supplement, which is paid out monthly in addition to the regular federal benefit and the additional state supplement, is for seniors who need at least 40 hours of supportive services.

Who Is Eligible?
To be eligible for the Exceptional Expense Supplement, seniors must live at home, in adult foster care or in an assisted living facility, including a facility that provides memory support. They must qualify for SSI, which has a monthly income limit of $771 for single applicants a countable asset limit of $2,000. Married applicants can have up to $1,157 in combined monthly income and up to $3,000 in countable assets.

How to Apply
Those who want to apply for this supplement should contact the Wisconsin Department of Health Services Great Rivers Consortium at (888) 283-0012.

Alzheimer’s Family and Caregiver Support Program

AFCSP provides a variety of supportive services for low- and middle-income seniors living with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. These services ensure high-quality care for program participants as well as support and respite for their families. Covered services include transportation assistance, personal care and adult day care services. Some goods, such as home-delivered meals, nutrition supplements and medical alert systems, may also be covered by this program.

Who Is Eligible?
To be eligible for AFCSP, applicants must have a household income of no more than $48,000 annually. Care costs related to caring for the individual with dementia may be deducted from gross income, so in some cases, an income higher than $48,000 is acceptable. Applicants must have verification from a physician of their diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or dementia.

How to Apply
To apply for this program, families should contact their local county and tribal aging offices.

Free and Low-Cost Memory Care Resources in Wisconsin

Wisconsin provides support to individuals with dementia and their unpaid caregivers and family members through a variety of programs.

ResourceContactServices
Memory Screening

608-266-1865The Wisconsin Department of Health Services provides memory screening services in the community, promoting early detection and intervention and allowing families to better plan for the future.
Alzheimer’s Association Wisconsin Chapter

800-272-3900The Alzheimer’s Association’s Wisconsin Chapter provides supportive services for families, educational opportunities and care consultation for those living with Alzheimer’s.
Alzheimer’s and Dementia Alliance of Wisconsin

608-232-3400ADAW supports individuals and families affected by Alzheimer’s through personal consultations, education and access to advocacy and resources.
Dementia Care Specialist Program

To find a local dementia care specialist, those interested should contact their local ADRC.The Dementia Care Specialist Program promotes a high quality of life for those living with dementia by providing free information and assistance through memory screening, enrichment opportunities and research opportunities. They also assist with care planning and connect families with support groups and respite services.
Dementia-Capable Wisconsin

608-266-1865The Wisconsin Department of Health Services has worked with partners across the state to implement Dementia-Capable Wisconsin, a program that optimizes conditions for residents with dementia by improving support for caregivers.

Memory Care Laws and Regulations in Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, memory care facilities are categorized as community-based residential facilities. CRBFs are governed by the Wisconsin Department of Health Bureau of Assisted Living. To ensure high-quality care, the department requires memory support facilities to adhere to strict rules and guidelines. It enforces these rules through inspections that are conducted at random and in response to complaints.

Scope of CareIn addition to room and board, memory care facilities may provide assistive services, intermediate-level care and treatment to residents. These facilities may accept residents with dementia and other forms of dementia, but not those who need around-the-clock care. Facilities may also provide recreational and social activities, meals and transportation services.
Care PlansPrior to admission, memory care facilities must assess a prospective resident’s physical and mental abilities and care requirements to ensure that the individual’s needs can be met in that setting. Upon admission, the facility must develop a temporary individualized service plan, and a more comprehensive plan that outlines what services the resident receives and how often must be developed within 30 days.
Medication ManagementMemory care residents are permitted to self-administer their own medications unless a physician has deemed them unable to safely do so. Medications that aren’t self-administered must be administered by a registered nurse, a nurse practitioner or a pharmacist. Some types of medications, including injections, nebulizers and suppositories must be administered by a nurse.
StaffingWhile Wisconsin doesn’t impose minimum staffing ratios, memory care facilities are required to ensure that there is enough staff present at all times to see to scheduled and unscheduled needs. Staff members must undergo specialized training that includes resident rights, provision of personal care, reporting abuse and managing the physical and psychological needs of memory care residents. In addition to this, staff must receive at least 15 hours annually of continuing education relevant to their job responsibilities.
Medicaid CoverageWisconsin Medicaid covers memory care services through two waiver programs, including IRIS and Family Care Programs. Those with dementia may be eligible for these programs if they meet income and asset guidelines.
Reporting AbuseAnyone who is concerned about the quality of care provided by a memory care facility in Wisconsin should contact the Office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman by calling 800-815-0015.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does Memory Care cost in Wisconsin?

In Wisconsin, memory care costs $5,437 per month on average, which is a little higher than the national average. This care is about 20-30% costlier than assisted living due to the higher level of care required, but it is more affordable than nursing home care.

Are there financial assistance programs for Memory Care in Wisconsin?

Wisconsin has several programs that may help residents pay for assisted living services, including IRIS, Family Care Programs, the Exceptional Expense Supplement and the Alzheimer’s Family and Caregiver Support Program. Income and asset guidelines apply, and applicants may need verification from a physician to show that services are needed.

What are “Activities of Daily Living?”

Activities of daily living are essential everyday tasks such as bathing, personal grooming, dressing and meal preparation. Memory care facilities in Wisconsin provide assistance with all ADLs. Residents who need help with multiple ADLs may qualify for nursing home care, which may be paid for through Medicaid or Medicare.

What types of services does memory care provide?

Memory care facilities provide long-term care services specifically for those with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia. These facilities typically provide services such as 24-hour staffing and supervision, medication management, personal care services, housekeeping and laundry services, supervised activities and individualized care plans.

What security features are present in memory care facilities?

To keep memory care residents safe, facilities have security features such as emergency call buttons, passcode or lock-and-key security or alarm systems and secured outdoor courtyards to prevent wandering.