The Cost of Memory Care: What To Expect

Nov 02, 2023
Fact Checked

Key Takeaways

If someone you care for is living with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, knowing the cost of memory care can help you weigh your options. Like many other senior living communities, the cost of memory care will vary based on how much care is needed, the memory care community’s location, and the types of amenities provided.

Our Local Care Reviews Team created a clear, comprehensive guide to the costs associated with memory care communities, including what is covered by your monthly fees. We want you to feel more informed about how to pay for housing and long-term care as you age.

Why you can trust our expert review

Our Local Care Reviews Team works hard to provide clear, transparent information to older adults and their caregivers seeking senior living and home care. To provide you with the best possible information, we have spent more than 1,000 hours:

How much does memory care cost?

According to the American Journal of Managed Care, the total cost of treating Alzheimer’s and associated dementia was $321 billion in 2022. [1]American Journal of Managed Care. The Economic and Societal Burden of Alzheimer Disease: Managed Care Considerations. September 2022. Found on the internet at This number could reach $1 trillion by 2050. While Medicare and Medicaid cover two-thirds of those costs, the remaining one-third are out-of-pocket expenses paid by people living with dementia and their families. In 2017, the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society estimated a lifetime cost of $184,500 for someone living with dementia, with 86% of the expenses taken on by families. [2]Jutkowitz E, et al. Societal and Family Lifetime Cost of Dementia: Implications for Policy. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. October 2017. Found on the internet at Those cost estimates have likely increased with inflation. As a family member of someone living with dementia, it’s essential to know how those costs break down month-to-month and how much could be covered by Medicare, Medicaid, or other forms of insurance.

Monthly memory care costs

Memory care communities are commonly located inside assisted living communities. But assisted living costs often don’t cover memory care expenses like special dementia training for staff or secure wings to prevent wandering. The extra staff qualifications and facilities required could explain the difference in the average monthly cost of memory care—$6,160, according to Dementia Care Central—compared to the median monthly cost of assisted living, which Genworth reported to be $4,500. [3]Dementia Care Central. Alzheimer’s / Dementia Care Costs: Home Care, Adult Day Care, Assisted Living & Nursing Homes. February 2023. Found on the internet at [4]Genworth. Cost of Care Survey. Found on the internet at

As dementia progresses and more care is needed, a person living with dementia in a memory care unit may need to transfer to a nursing home. The median monthly cost for nursing home care in the United States is $7,908 for a shared room and $9,034 for a private room. [4]Genworth. Cost of Care Survey. Found on the internet at For Medicaid-eligible nursing home residents, Medicaid will pay all or most of this cost.

The cost of memory care will vary widely by location, regardless of whether the memory care community is stand-alone or if it is co-located in an assisted living or nursing home community. Brookdale, the largest operator of senior living facilities in the United States, reports a range of $2,795 to $10,030 for starting base rental rates in memory care communities. [5]Brookdale Senior Living. Memory Care Costs. Found on the internet at

What’s included in monthly memory care costs

Many memory care units, including those in assisted living communities, charge a base monthly fee covering a shared or private room, snacks, three meals per day, planned social activities, and 24/7 emergency assistance. Personal carePersonal care, sometimes called custodial care, refers to non-medical care provided by professional caregivers, such as assistance with bathing or toileting. services, including medication administration and help with assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs)Activities of daily living, also called ADLs, are activities related to necessary personal care. These include bathing, dressing, toileting, eating, walking, and transferring in and out of a bed or chair. , such as bathing and dressing, may incur additional fees. Often, the base fee cited by the community does not include these additional fees, so it’s important to ask the memory care communities you tour, “What services are covered by the base fee?”

Memory care units located within nursing homes charge an all-inclusive monthly fee covering planned social activities, snacks, three meals per day, and any medical or personal care needs the resident has, except those requiring hospitalization.

Additional memory care costs

Many senior living communities, including memory care facilities, charge an initial community fee prior to move-in. The amount of this fee will vary by community, and it may or may not be refundable.

Also, memory care communities often have annual rate increases. Ask the administration of each community you tour how often they increase their rates and by how much.

Is memory care tax-deductible?

Long-term care services to treat and maintain the well-being of a chronically ill person may be tax-deductible. The Internal Revenue Service defines a chronically ill person as someone who a licensed health care practitioner has determined to be unable to perform at least two ADLs, such as bathing or toileting, without assistance for at least 90 days and who requires substantial supervision due to cognitive impairment. Residents of memory care communities may meet these requirements, depending on how far their dementia has progressed.

Expert advice on memory care costs

Natali Edmonds, board-certified geropsychologist and CEO of Dementia Careblazers, an organization providing education for dementia caregivers, shared her thoughts with us on the costs of memory care. “Ultimately, the caregiver and family will have to weigh the cost and the benefits of memory care,” she said. “Memory care is expensive, but it can offer a lot of relief to a family member who might not be able to provide ongoing 24/7 care to their loved one with dementia, especially if they are still working or trying to raise children.

“The ultimate goal is to keep the person with dementia safe and give them the best quality of life,” Edmonds shared. “Sometimes, that is best done in a memory care facility, other times, it can be done in the home. The specific symptoms of the person living with dementia also play a role in the likelihood of being able to care for them at home long-term. For example, someone who is no longer able to walk independently for long distances may be easier for family members to care for compared to someone who wanders away and leaves the home if they aren’t supervised every moment.”

4 factors influencing memory care costs

How much you’ll pay for memory care depends on where you live, how much care you need, and other factors specific to individual memory care communities. Knowing these cost-determining factors can help you make a more informed decision about memory care.

Geographic location

The cost of senior living communities varies widely depending on where you live. Genworth data show assisted living costs can vary by as much as $2,800 per month, whereas nursing home costs can vary by more than $1,100 per month. [4]Genworth. Cost of Care Survey. Found on the internet at According to Edmonds, this geographic difference in cost also holds true for memory care communities. “Memory care facilities in urban areas and in certain regions tend to cost more than those in more rural or less urban places,” she said.

Additionally, in areas where memory care communities are limited, high demand for care can elevate costs.

Size of living space

One of the biggest factors in the price of memory care is whether the resident is in a shared or private room, according to Edmonds. “Private rooms can increase the cost of memory care by more than $1,000 each month,” she said. For reference, the median monthly cost of a shared room in a nursing home is $7,908. For a private room, it’s $9,034–a significant difference of $1,126 each month. [4]Genworth. Cost of Care Survey. Found on the internet at

For Medicaid-eligible older adults, Medicaid coverage for memory care will typically cover a shared room, not a private one.

Level of care needed

Each type of dementia—including Alzheimer’s, vascular dementiaVascular dementia, which is caused by brain damage from impaired blood flow to the brain, is characterized by problems with reasoning, judgment, memory, and other thought processes. , and Lewy body dementiaIn this type of dementia, protein deposits called Lewy bodies develop in the brain’s nerve cells. Symptoms include cognitive problems, visual hallucinations, and movement disorders. —progresses differently. The scope of care for an older adult living with dementia will vary widely based on the kind of dementia a person has and how long they have been living with the disease. In the earlier stages, people living with dementia may need few supportive services, but this is an excellent time to plan for future care needs. As dementia progresses, care needs usually increase, and those with dementia may require a secure unit to prevent wandering, assistance with several activities of daily living, and even skilled nursing care.

Typically, the more care a resident needs, the more expensive their care will be. “If a person requires more hands-on care and supervision, they will likely pay more than someone who does not require the same level of care,” Edmonds said.


Each memory care community will offer its own set of amenities for residents. While some memory care communities offer residents communal dining rooms and on-site social activities, others have additional amenities, such as on-site beauty salons, scheduled group outings, and even swimming pools. A memory care community with fancy amenities does not necessarily offer superior care, and those additional amenities will likely increase your monthly fees.

How do I pay for memory care?

Cost is a big factor in deciding if memory care is the right choice for you or someone you care for. According to Edmonds, “It can be helpful to consult with an elder law attorney—even before any formal diagnosis—to discuss financial planning and the structuring of assets to increase the chances of qualifying for financial aid and to help protect family assets.” You can also use BenefitsCheckUp® to explore what benefits programs you might qualify for.

Here are the primary methods people use to pay for memory care:

How do memory care costs compare to other senior care costs?

Memory care is typically more expensive than independent living or assisted living but less expensive than nursing home care.

Full-time in-home care can be more affordable than care in a memory care community. Still, it’s important to factor in the cost of a mortgage and other home-related expenses when evaluating the cost of in-home care. Also, someone living with dementia and using a home health aide or companion services may not need full-time assistance, so you should consider the number of hours you need when budgeting for the cost of care.

Dementia caregivers providing care in their own homes may want to consider adult day services, which are community-based centers providing engaging activities and some personal care services for older adults living with dementia. These centers, which are typically only open on weekdays, are more affordable than residential long-term care and can be helpful for caregivers who work full-time or need a break from caregiving responsibilities. But adult day services may not be appropriate for people with significant memory loss.

Table 1 Cost of memory care vs. cost of other senior living options as of November 2021

Type of Care

Monthly Average

Home health aide$5,148*
Homemaker (companion) services$4,957*
Adult day services$1,690**
Assisted living community$4,500
Memory care$6,160
Nursing home, shared room$7,908
Nursing home, private room$9,034

Source: Genworth and Dementia Care Central
*Based on 44 hours per week
**Based on 8 hours a day, 5 days a week

Memory care resources

Many free and low-cost resources are available to people living with dementia and their families. Connecting with dementia-care experts and fellow caregivers can lighten the emotional load of dementia care and provide valuable insights on the caregiving journey. Many of these resources can also help families make decisions about memory care. For example, in local or national support groups, which can be found through an area agency on aging or organizations like Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, dementia caregivers can ask fellow caregivers about their experiences with memory care and its associated costs.

Table 2 Free memory care resources



Eldercare LocatorUse this public service of the U.S. Administration for Community Living to find community-based services for older adults and caregivers in your area, including information about your local area agency on aging.
BenefitsCheckUpThis free NCOA service helps older adults find benefits programs that can help pay for health care, medicine, food, utilities, and more.
Alzheimer’s Foundation of AmericaFind resources for Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers, including support groups.
Alzheimer’s AssociationExplore this national nonprofit organization’s series of ALZ Talks webinars, which offer education, news, and resources on dementia and caregiving topics.
National Academy of Elder Law AttorneysUse this nonprofit organization’s online search tool to locate an elder law attorney near you.

Bottom line: What to expect from memory care costs

As you’re trying to decide on care options for a person living with dementia, it’s helpful to understand the costs associated with residential memory care communities and how those costs compare to in-home care and other dementia care options.

The average monthly cost for memory care in an assisted living community in the United States is about $6,160, according to Dementia Care Central. [3]Dementia Care Central. Alzheimer’s / Dementia Care Costs: Home Care, Adult Day Care, Assisted Living & Nursing Homes. February 2023. Found on the internet at The median monthly cost for nursing home care, which may be needed as dementia progresses, starts at $7,908. [4]Genworth. Cost of Care Survey. Found on the internet at

The cost of memory care will vary widely based on geographic location, the amenities available, the level of care a person needs, and whether they live in a private or shared room.

People living with dementia and their families pay for memory care in a variety of ways, including private savings, long-term care insurance, and home equity. Some older adults may be eligible for government assistance programs, such as Medicaid or veterans benefits, which can help cover the cost of memory care. Medicare will not cover any form of long-term care, including memory care, but it may cover some health care services received in the memory care setting.

If you think memory care might be the right choice for you or someone you care for, talk to family, friends, trusted health care providers, and elder care professionals, such as elder law attorneys, to decide the best way to pay for care.

Frequently asked questions

The monthly cost of caring for someone living with dementia will vary based on the level of care a person needs and where they are receiving care. The average monthly cost of residential memory care in an assisted living facility is $6,160, and the median monthly cost for 44 hours a week of in-home care is $4,957.

Assisted living is for older adults needing daily care, but not skilled nursing. Memory care is specialized care for older adults living with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. Often, assisted living communities have on-site memory care, often called special care units.

Memory care provides specialized care for older adults living with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. Symptoms, not the diagnosis itself, often determine the need for memory care. Many people living with dementia can live at home with the addition of in-home care. But someone living with dementia and at risk of wandering away from their home at night. This is one of many reasons someone may need a secure memory care unit.

Have questions about this article? Email us at


  1. Anita Pothen Skaria, PharmD. The Economic and Societal Burden of Alzheimer Disease: Managed Care Considerations. American Journal of Managed Care. Sept. 12, 2022. Found on the internet at
  2. Jutkowitz E, et al. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. October 2017. Societal and Family Lifetime Cost of Dementia: Implications for Policy. Found on the internet at
  3. Dementia Care Central. Alzheimer’s / Dementia Care Costs: Home Care, Adult Day Care, Assisted Living & Nursing Homes. February 2023. Found on the internet at
  4. Genworth. Cost of Care Survey. Found on the internet at
  5. Brookdale Senior Living. Memory Care Costs. Found on the internet at
  6. Internal Revenue Service. Medical and Dental Expenses. 2022. Found on the internet at
  7. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Geriatrics and Extended Care: Dementia Care (including Alzheimer’s Disease). Found on the internet at
  8. Using Life Insurance to Pay for Long-term Care. Found on the internet at ​​
  9. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Avoid reverse mortgage shopping scams. Found on the internet at
  10. Alzheimer’s Association. 2023 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures. Found on the internet at
  11. The Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC). Principles for Assessing Medicaid Nursing Facility Payment Policies. Found on the internet at
Kate Van Dis
Kate Van Dis Author
Kate Van Dis is a health writer in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She has written for various audiences on health & wellness, education, and aging. Her current focus is on assisted living, home care, and other extra-care housing options for older adults.
Christopher Norman Headshot
Christopher Norman Medical Reviewer
Christopher Norman is a Board-Certified Geriatric Nurse Practitioner and Holistic Nurse. As a nurse’s aide, registered nurse and now nurse practitioner, he has loved working with older adults since 2004.
Kathleen Cameron
Kathleen Cameron Reviewer
Kathleen Cameron, BSPharm, MPH, has more than 25 years of experience in the health care field as a pharmacist, researcher, and program director focusing on falls prevention, geriatric pharmacotherapy, mental health, long-term services and supports, and caregiving. Cameron is Senior Director of the NCOA Center for Healthy Aging, where she provides subject matter expertise on health care programmatic and policy related issues and oversees the Modernizing Senior Center Resource Center.
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