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Does Medicare Cover Dementia Care?

  • Medicare with Melissa

Managing the challenges of dementia can feel like an uphill climb. If you or your loved one grapples with memory loss, difficulty with familiar tasks, or struggles with speech, the last thing you want to worry about is healthcare coverage. Yet, the reality is that dementia can bring significant healthcare needs and costs. In fact, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s Disease, the most common form of dementia, ranks as most expensive disease in the United States. But does Medicare cover dementia care? Keep reading to discover how Medicare works with dementia care and how Medicaid can fill in some coverage gaps, offering more comprehensive healthcare coverage.

Click the play button above to watch a 60 second short on Does Medicare Cover Dementia Care

What Medicare Covers in Dementia Care

When it comes to dementia care, you’ll find that Medicare does indeed provide a certain degree of coverage, offering much-needed assistance during every stage of the condition. Dementia, whether in the form of Alzheimer’s, vascular dementia, or other types, often requires a multifaceted care approach that spans various healthcare services. Luckily, Medicare is designed to cater to many of these needs.

Firstly, Medicare Part B covers cognitive assessments. These are crucial for tracking the progression of dementia. Regular cognitive assessments allow doctors to monitor changes in you or your loved one’s cognitive abilities and adjust care plans as needed. They can also help in determining which stage of dementia the patient is currently experiencing.

In addition to cognitive assessments, Medicare Part B also covers home safety evaluations. These evaluations are essential in identifying potential risks or hazards at home that could lead to injuries or complications for someone living with dementia. The evaluations offer guidance on necessary modifications to ensure a safer, more dementia-friendly living environment.

When it comes to planning for care, Medicare Part B has you covered there as well. The progression of dementia often necessitates changes in care approaches. Care planning services under Medicare assist in establishing a care strategy, addressing the medical, social, and mental needs that arise during the progression of dementia.

Hospital stays, which may become necessary due to complications or severe progression of dementia, are also covered under Medicare Part A. This includes inpatient care at general hospitals or specialized psychiatric hospitals.

Lastly, an essential part of dementia care is medication management, and Medicare Part D steps in here. This prescription drug coverage helps shoulder the cost of medications prescribed by doctors to manage dementia symptoms or slow its progression. This coverage can significantly reduce the financial burden of medication costs, which can mount over time.

Keep in mind that while Medicare provides substantial coverage, it’s important to understand the specifics of your plan, including deductibles, copayments, and other potential out-of-pocket costs. Remember, knowing what to expect can help you navigate your dementia care journey more smoothly.

Home Health Services and Medicare

In the early stages of dementia, home health services can be a vital support system. These services cater to individuals who prefer to stay in their homes while managing their healthcare needs. It’s all about maintaining a sense of familiarity and comfort, which can be especially crucial for individuals dealing with cognitive decline.

Medicare provides coverage for these services for people certified as “homebound”. This term doesn’t mean you can’t leave home at all. It means leaving home is a significant challenge due to illness or injury, or that doing so could worsen your health condition. If a doctor certifies you as homebound, Medicare Part A and/or Medicare Part B can cover home health services like intermittent skilled nursing care. Additionally, Medicare Part B covers physical therapy, speech-language pathology services, and continued occupational services.

In the context of dementia, these services can include everything from skilled nursing care for medical needs to therapy services to manage physical or speech difficulties related to the condition. Home health services can also involve assistance with daily living activities, which can progressively become challenging as dementia advances.

With Medicare coverage, you can receive up to 35 hours a week of home health care, which can be a significant help for both the individual with dementia and their caregivers. This coverage can help ensure that you or your loved one receives the needed care while staying in a familiar and comfortable environment, reducing the stress and disorientation that can come with a move to a new setting.

However, it’s important to note that there may be out-of-pocket costs. Medicare typically covers 100% of approved amounts for covered home health services and 80% of approved amounts for durable medical equipment, if needed. It’s essential to understand these nuances to avoid unexpected costs.

The Role of Medicaid in Dementia Care

While Medicare provides substantial coverage for many healthcare needs related to dementia, there are certain areas where Medicaid can step in and fill the gaps. Medicaid is a federal and state program that helps cover medical costs for some people with limited income and resources, providing crucial assistance in managing the costs of long-term care.

One key area where Medicaid comes into play is with in-home care. For individuals with dementia, it can be beneficial to stay in their homes during the early stages of the disease, surrounded by familiar surroundings. However, as the disease progresses, the level of care needed can increase significantly. In such cases, without that in-home care, a person with dementia might require care in a nursing home.

If in-home care services are deemed medically necessary and the cost of these services doesn’t exceed the cost of nursing home care, Medicaid can step in to cover the costs of this care. This can include services like personal care assistance, meal preparation, medication administration, and even some household chores, offering a significant relief for both the individual with dementia and their caregivers.

Another service covered by Medicaid is adult day care programs. These programs provide a safe and engaging environment for people with dementia during the day, offering activities tailored to their abilities and needs. They can also provide meals and, in some cases, transportation to and from the center. This can be an excellent solution for caregivers who work during the day or just need a break. The added benefit of social interaction for the person with dementia is a plus.

It’s worth noting that Medicaid programs can vary by state, so it’s important to check what specific services are covered in your state. Understanding how Medicaid works alongside Medicare to provide comprehensive coverage can be an invaluable tool in managing the costs of dementia care.

Long-term Dementia Care

As dementia progresses into its later stages, the level of care needed often goes beyond what can be provided at home. This is where nursing homes and special care units come into play, providing around-the-clock care to ensure the safety and well-being of individuals with advanced dementia.

Medicare Part A covers skilled nursing facility care (SNF), which includes semi-private rooms, meals, skilled nursing and rehabilitative services, and medications, but this coverage is typically limited to short-term stays following a qualifying hospital stay. Medicare Part A also covers skilled nursing home care, but only for a short time (up to 100 days) and under certain eligibility requirements.

After the 100-day mark, if further stay in a nursing home is needed, costs can be covered either by personal resources, Medicaid, long-term care insurance, or a combination of these sources. Medicaid, for those who qualify based on income and asset limitations, can cover long-term nursing home care.

In addition to general nursing home care, there are special care units or memory care units specifically designed for individuals with dementia. These units often feature secured areas to prevent wandering, a common issue in advanced dementia, and offer activities and therapies tailored to those with cognitive decline. The staff in these units are typically specially trained in caring for people with dementia, providing personalized care that respects the individual’s dignity and maximizes their abilities.

Medicaid will cover the cost of care in these memory care units, making this specialized service more accessible to those in need. This can be a significant relief for families, knowing their loved ones are receiving specialized, quality care even in the advanced stages of dementia.

However, it’s essential to remember that policies and coverage can vary from state to state, so it’s crucial to understand your specific state’s regulations and benefits when considering long-term care options.

Hospice Care and Medicare

Hospice care plays a crucial role in the final stages of dementia. It focuses on providing comfort and maintaining the highest possible quality of life for individuals who are facing a life-limiting illness or injury. The goal is to manage symptoms and provide emotional, spiritual, and psychosocial support tailored to the individual’s needs and wishes.

In the case of dementia, eligibility for hospice care usually comes into play when the individual is in the late stages of the disease and has been determined by a doctor to have less than six months to live, should the disease run its normal course. At this stage, the focus often shifts from aggressive treatments to providing comfort and support.

Medicare Part A provides comprehensive coverage for hospice care. This includes doctor services, nursing care, medical equipment and supplies, prescription drugs for symptom control or pain relief, physical and occupational therapy, grief, and loss counseling for the individual and their family, and more. It’s a holistic approach to end-of-life care, addressing the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of the individual and their loved ones.

It’s important to note that while hospice care under Medicare is comprehensive, you still have the right to choose your desired treatments. You can stop hospice care at any time and return to your regular Medicare coverage if you believe it’s the best choice for you. Understanding your options and your coverage can help you and your loved ones make informed decisions during this challenging time.

Benefits of Dual Medicare and Medicaid Coverage

Managing the costs and complexities of dementia care can be a significant challenge. However, if you or your loved one are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid, obtaining dual coverage can provide comprehensive health care coverage and help minimize out-of-pocket costs.

Medicare, as we’ve discussed, provides extensive coverage for various aspects of dementia care, including cognitive assessments, home safety evaluations, care planning, hospital stays, and prescription drug coverage. However, it has limitations, especially when it comes to long-term care and certain in-home services. That’s where Medicaid comes in.

Medicaid is designed to help individuals and families with lower incomes cover the costs of healthcare, including many services not typically covered by Medicare. This includes long-term care in nursing homes, in-home care services, and adult day care programs, among others.

When you’re navigating the journey of dementia care, dual coverage can provide peace of mind. It ensures that whether it’s a hospital stay, prescription medication, home health services, or long-term care, you have the financial support to access the necessary care services.

By ensuring that you are adequately covered, you can focus on supporting your loved one through their journey with dementia, or if you’re the one living with dementia, focusing on maintaining your quality of life and well-being. It’s about making sure that no stone is left unturned when it comes to providing comprehensive, quality care.


Medicare provides considerable coverage for many aspects of dementia care, from cognitive assessments and care planning to hospital stays and prescription medications. However, when it comes to long-term care and certain in-home services, it’s often Medicaid that steps up to provide coverage.

Having dual Medicare and Medicaid coverage can be an enormous asset in managing dementia care. It provides a broader safety net, helping to ensure that all your healthcare needs are met while minimizing potential financial burdens.

Remember, everyone’s situation is unique, and so is every dementia journey. It’s crucial to familiarize yourself with your specific coverage details and speak with healthcare professionals to determine the best course of action. With the right information and resources, you can focus on ensuring the best possible care and quality of life for yourself or your loved one with dementia.

Do you have any questions or concerns about Medicare coverage for dementia care? You can reach our dedicated team of Medicare experts at 866-MEDIGAP (866-633-4427). We understand the unique challenges of dementia and can offer personalized assistance for your specific healthcare needs. Give us a call today!

Meet Melissa MacCalla

Medicare is not simple and can be hard, frustrating, and downright confusing for most. I love when I get someone on the phone and I am given the opportunity to explain the difference in plans to them and have Medicare make sense. I enjoy talking to clients year after year, hearing about their families growing or them asking about mine.


Oh my gosh!! I was so confused about the Medicare Supplement process. I am turning 65 soon and am retired and have always had insurance thru my former employer. I didn’t know a thing about going on Medicare and was struggling to sort it all out.

A friend of mine recommended contacting Senior HealthCare Solutions, so I did. Melissa was FANTASTIC!! She was professional, responsive, caring and friendly. She explained the steps I needed to take, gathered my information, helped me choose good plans for MY specific needs and took care of my applications over the phone. 1-2-3, eesy-peesy and I was done!! And it didn’t cost me a DIME!!! WOW!!! I HIGHLY recommend Senior Healthcare Solutions for anyone who’s overwhelmed with making the right choices with Medicare Supplemental Insurance and Rx coverage. It’ll take a load off your mind!

Janice W.

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