Senior Guidance

Memory Care Facilities in Iowa

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Iowa represents a fantastic place to live for seniors, particular residents of Alzheimer’s and dementia care homes. Iowa memory care communities have wholesome values, provide great value and are affordable for many families. The state of over 3 million is not densely populated and provides a good home for a loved one.

Memory Care in Iowa - Cheapest & Most Expensive Places

What does it cost to live in an Iowa dementia care home? What are some of the most expensive cities and counties? How about the most affordable? Here is your guide for those new to the area or new to memory care in Iowa:

The Top 5 Most Affordable Cities for Memory Care in Iowa based on Monthly Average Median

  1. Lenox, IA - $4,340
  2. Burlington, IA - $4,350
  3. Fort Madison, IA - $4,405         
  4. Mason City, IA - $4,420
  5. Sioux City, IA - $4,530

The Top 5 Most Expensive Cities for Dementia Care in Iowa

  1. Waukee, IA - $5,400
  2. Robins, IA - $5,360
  3. Johnston, IA - $5,290
  4. Pleasant Hill, IA - $5,140         
  5. Ankeny, IA - $5,100

The Top 5 Most Affordable Counties in Iowa for Memory Care based on Monthly Average Price

  1. Taylor County - $4,350
  2. Des Moines County - $4,360
  3. Lee County - $4,400
  4. Cerro Gordo County - $4,020
  5. Woodbury County - $4,525

The Top 5 Most Expensive Counties in Iowa for Alzheimer’s Care

  1. Dallas County - $5,405
  2. Polk County - $4,970
  3. Dubuque County - $4,955
  4. Linn County - $4,950         
  5. Dickinson County - $4,920

Iowa Dementia & Alzheimer’s Care - Services

Alzheimer’s care is getting more and more sophisticated as more research is dedicated to the cognitive disability. As a result, treatment has evolved into much more hands-on with a variety of activities designed for the body and mind. Along with engagement for positive cognitive support, meaningful activities will stimulate brain activity in conjunction with physical strengths.

The 24/7 employed staff means that they are there to monitor residents around the clock, always observant of slips and falls, and avoiding any safety hazards. You can rest easier knowing a loved one is properly taken care of and around the clock. The buildings are also designed for patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia in mind. Knowing that getting lost and wandering outside the premise is plausible, the buildings have been constructed to provide easier navigation while also avoiding escaping from the facility where a senior may be exposed to dangerous traffic and other situations.

Dementia trained caregivers allow families to not travel the frustrating landscape of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia alone. It’s a very challenging disease, that rips a lot of functionality and cognitive abilities savagely from a loved one. The best care for Alzheimer’s is teamwork oriented, where multiple people on a daily basis make a lasting impact.

In an Iowa memory care community exclusively dedicated to Alzheimer’s and dementia, the staff is not only specifically trained to handle these complexing issues, but also provide a supportive community with others that are going through the same problems.

Iowa Memory Care Regulations

Memory care is generally offered in assisted living facilities in Iowa. These facilities are governed by a philosophy of care that emphasizes creating a homelike environment for residents, so they can live a fulfilling life with as much autonomy as possible.


Memory care in Iowa is regulated by the Health Facilities Division of the Department of Inspections and Appeals. This is the licensing body for all assisted living facilities in the state, including memory care facilities.

Facilities applying for a license will be inspected within 3 months of receiving a conditional certification. Licensed facilities receive ongoing inspections at least once every 2 years to continue renewing operational licensing.

General Regulations

Before residents are admitted into a facility, they and the facility will sign a resident agreement that includes the following:

  • Payment terms
  • Refund policy
  • Cost of the basic services
  • Cost of additional services the facility can arrange
  • Admission and retention criteria
  • Complaint processes
  • Emergency plans
  • Staffing policies, including flexibility to accommodate needs
  • Social activities available to residents
  • Services for dementia care

Along with the resident agreement, facilities will also work with new residents to develop a service plan. This plan outlines the care the resident will require from the facility and how their staff will meet those needs. All parties included in the care plan need to be involved in creating the plan, including relevant health care professionals and care staff. In some cases, the facility and resident will also negotiate a management risk agreement that details the individual responsibilities of the resident and the facility, as well as shared responsibilities.

With memory impaired residents, the service plan needs to also contain the activities the facility offers that align with the interests of the resident. Both planned and spontaneous activities should be included.

Although assisted living facilities may contract with third parties for services and programs they offer residents, the facility itself is responsible for maintaining the quality and consistency of service for all residents. If any service or program is outsourced to a third party, this must be specified in the service plan.

Facility Regulations

All residents in a memory care facility can be housed in units contained within a larger living facility or in private apartments. Units cannot house more than 2 residents per room, with every unit having its own full bathroom with a sink, toilet, and shower or bathtub. Units are not required to have kitchens or food preparation facilities. However, if units do include kitchens, all appliances must be removable or capable of being disabled in order to protect residents.

Exits from a memory care facility must be controlled to prevent unplanned egress from memory impaired residents. An alarm should be connected to each door leading out of a memory care space unit in an assisted living facility, with staff being provided with the means to disable locks and alarms on entrances and exits.

Staffing Regulations

There are no specific staff ratios that need to be maintained by assisted living facilities. Each facility must always maintain an appropriate amount of staff to ensure residents are getting the care outlined in their service plan, during the day and overnight. There must always be at least one care staff on duty and awake overnight to supervise and assist memory care residents.

Each memory acre facility must employ a program manager for daily operations and staff supervision, as well as a registered nurse if the facility is administering medications or providing specialized care. There must be an appropriate level of direct care staff to care for residents, run all daily activities, respond to emergency situations, and cater to both planned and unplanned needs.

Both program managers and registered nurses hired at any assisted living facility must complete a course dealing with management of an assisted living facility, or a nursing course, within 6 months of being hired. Iowa does not require ongoing training for general resident care, but all memory care staff must go through annual continuous training dealing with care for the memory impaired, including Alzheimer’s and dementia care specifically.

Iowa Medicaid Memory Care Programs

While Iowa’s Medicaid program does not directly cover memory care services, there is a Medicaid waiver program that can be applied towards some of the costs of memory care in an assisted living facility. The specific waiver program that applies in this case is the Home and Community Based Services Elderly Waiver.

There are 7 different Home and Community Based Services waivers, but only the Elderly Waiver can be applied toward memory care services. This waiver is only available to people who are eligible for Medicaid. It cannot be applied to room and board at a memory care facility, but it does pay for other costs related to care, including primary care, behavioral health care, skilled nursing care, emergency care, daily living assistance, and more.

Eligibility for Medicaid in Iowa

To be eligible for Medicaid and this waiver program, applicants must be 65 years of age or older. They must be in need of nursing home level care, be US citizens or permanent residents, and be current residents in the state of Iowa.

Along with these criteria, there are also income limits in place. For this year, income limits in Iowa are as follows:

  • Individuals can earn no more than $2,742 per month, with $2,000 in countable assets
  • Married couples with both spouses applying for Medicaid can each earn no more than $2,742 per month for a combined total of $5,484 per month. There is a combined asset limit of $3,000 for couple applicants
  • Married individuals applying without their spouse can earn no more than $2,742 per month with an asset limit of $2,000, but their non-applicant spouse may have up to $148,620 in assets

Admissions Requirements for Memory Care in Iowa

Memory care facilities in Iowa cannot admit everyone. While they can admit people who need assistance with daily life activities, they may not admit anyone who requires a higher level of care than they are licensed and able to provide.

In Iowa, this means memory care facilities cannot admit anyone who:

  • Are permanently bedridden
  • Require more than 1 person to assist with standing or movement
  • Present a threat to themselves and others around them
  • Suffer from ongoing substance abuse or addiction
  • Have an uncontrolled mental illness
  • Suffer from uncontrollable incontinence
  • Require full-time care from a skilled medical provider for more than 21 days
  • Need assistance with more than 3 daily life activities, such as feeding, movement, or toileting

Anyone who meets the criteria for discharge cannot be admitted, unless they are in that state temporarily. If a potential resident requires consistent care for a period of less than 21 days or is receiving part-time medical care, they may still be eligible for admission. Exceptions may also be made for residents who need to receive hospice care, in order to allow them to remain where they are and age in place.

Memory Care in Iowa Compared to Assisted Living

How is memory care different from assisted living? In Iowa, memory care is most often provided in assisted living facilities. While people with memory impairments can receive memory care services outside of assisted living, this is not the normal way to do it.

Assisted living facilities are homelike facilities where the elderly and disabled can live while getting assistance with daily life activities and basic medical care in a safe environment. Memory care is assisted living with the added benefit of programs and care directed specifically toward helping individuals with Alzheimer’s, dementia, or other memory impairments.

What Memory Care Provides

Memory care takes assisted living to the next level by creating a safer space for those living with memory impairments of all types. Memory care units in an assisted living facility are usually limited access, with safely enclosed indoor and outdoor spaces, daily activities for residents, and personal care to help each individual live with the highest level of autonomy possible.

While assisted living offers something similar, memory care is designed to cater to the specific needs of those with memory impairments. Staff are trained in caring for individuals with Alzheimer’s, dementia, or other conditions. Activities are geared toward helping people retain life skills and live on their own terms. Residents are provided with support 24/7, not just during the day.

These differences are significant, because they allow your loved one to be well cared for with services that are appropriate for their condition. Having staff trained specifically in caring for those with memory impairments leads to better care and a higher quality of life for residents who need memory care.

Common Questions About Memory Care in Iowa

1. What is memory care, and why is it important in Iowa?

Memory care is a specialized type of senior living that provides tailored support for individuals with memory impairments, such as Alzheimer's disease or dementia. In Iowa, with a growing aging population, memory care is crucial to ensure residents receive the appropriate care and attention they need. Cities like Cedar Rapids and Des Moines offer memory care facilities with trained staff and safe environments.

2. What services are typically offered in memory care communities in Iowa?

Memory care communities in Iowa provide services such as 24/7 supervision, assistance with activities of daily living, medication management, and cognitive stimulation. These services are designed to support residents' cognitive and emotional well-being. Cities like Iowa City and Dubuque have memory care communities with specialized programs and therapies.

3. How does memory care differ from assisted living in Iowa?

Memory care in Iowa is specifically designed for individuals with memory impairments and offers a higher level of supervision and specialized care compared to assisted living. While assisted living provides general support with daily tasks, memory care focuses on addressing the unique needs of those with memory disorders. Cities like Waterloo and Council Bluffs have both memory care and assisted living options.

4. How can I determine if my loved one needs memory care in Iowa?

If your loved one in Iowa is experiencing memory loss, confusion, personality changes, or difficulty performing daily tasks, it might be time to consider memory care. Consult with healthcare professionals for an accurate assessment. Cities like Ames and Sioux City have resources and experts who can help determine the appropriate level of care.

5. Are memory care communities in Iowa safe and secure?

Yes, memory care communities in Iowa prioritize safety and security for residents with memory impairments. They often have features like secure entry points, enclosed outdoor spaces, and layouts that prevent wandering. Facilities in cities like Davenport and Cedar Falls implement safety measures to ensure residents' well-being.

6. What training do staff members receive in Iowa memory care communities?

Staff members in Iowa memory care communities receive specialized training to understand and address the unique needs of residents with memory impairments. This training covers communication techniques, behavior management, and creating engaging activities. Cities like Dubuque and Iowa City emphasize ongoing training to ensure the highest level of care.

7. How can I find a suitable memory care community in Iowa?

To find a suitable memory care community in Iowa, research online platforms, visit facilities, and consult with healthcare professionals. Look for communities in cities like Des Moines and Cedar Rapids that offer person-centered care, engaging activities, and a supportive environment for residents with memory impairments.

8. What amenities are commonly available in memory care communities in Iowa?

Memory care communities in Iowa offer amenities such as secure outdoor spaces, memory-enhancing activities, nutritious meals, and comfortable living areas. These amenities are designed to provide a supportive and engaging environment for residents. Cities like Council Bluffs and Ames have facilities with a range of amenities to enhance residents' quality of life.

9. How does the cost of memory care in Iowa compare to other types of senior living?

Memory care in Iowa tends to be more specialized and intensive, which can result in higher costs compared to other types of senior living like assisted living. The cost varies based on factors such as location and services provided. Cities like Iowa City and Cedar Falls have memory care communities with varying price ranges to accommodate different budgets.

10. Are there financial assistance options for memory care in Iowa?

Yes, in Iowa, there are financial assistance options for memory care, including Medicaid programs and veteran benefits. These programs can help offset the costs of memory care services. It's advisable to explore eligibility and application processes. Cities like Sioux City and Waterloo have resources to assist with understanding financial assistance options.

11. What steps can I take to help a loved one transition to memory care in Iowa?

Helping a loved one transition to memory care in Iowa involves open communication, involving them in the decision-making process, and creating a familiar and comforting environment. Visiting the facility together and participating in initial activities can also ease the transition. Cities like Dubuque and Davenport have memory care communities that prioritize personalized transition plans.

12. Can residents personalize their living spaces in memory care communities?

Yes, many memory care communities in Iowa encourage residents to personalize their living spaces with familiar items and decorations. Personal touches can create a sense of comfort and familiarity for individuals with memory impairments. Facilities in cities like Iowa City and Cedar Rapids provide guidance for creating personalized living spaces.

13. How can family members stay involved in their loved one's life in an Iowa memory care community?

Family members can stay involved in an Iowa memory care community by participating in family events, visiting regularly, and maintaining communication with the staff. Some facilities also offer family support groups and educational sessions. Cities like Ames and Des Moines promote family engagement to enhance residents' well-being.

14. What specialized programs are offered in memory care communities in Iowa?

Memory care communities in Iowa offer specialized programs such as reminiscence therapy, music therapy, and art therapy. These programs aim to stimulate cognitive function, promote emotional well-being, and provide a sense of purpose for residents. Facilities in cities like Waterloo and Council Bluffs have a variety of enriching programs.

15. How do memory care communities in Iowa handle medical emergencies?

Memory care communities in Iowa have protocols in place to handle medical emergencies. Trained staff members are equipped to provide immediate assistance and communicate with medical professionals if needed. Facilities often conduct regular emergency drills to ensure preparedness. Cities like Cedar Falls and Dubuque prioritize residents' safety and well-being.

16. Can residents with memory impairments participate in social activities in Iowa memory care communities?

Yes, memory care communities in Iowa offer tailored social activities that cater to residents' abilities and interests. Engaging in group activities, outings, and hobbies can promote social interaction, cognitive stimulation, and emotional well-being. Cities like Davenport and Iowa City have memory care programs designed to provide meaningful engagement for residents with memory impairments.

17. How can I support a loved one's emotional well-being in an Iowa memory care community?

Supporting a loved one's emotional well-being in an Iowa memory care community involves visiting regularly, engaging in meaningful conversations, and participating in activities together. Creating a sense of familiarity and connection can positively impact their mood and overall happiness. Cities like Dubuque and Sioux City have facilities that focus on emotional well-being.

18. How do memory care communities in Iowa address residents' dietary needs?

Memory care communities in Iowa work closely with dietitians to address residents' dietary needs. Menus are often tailored to accommodate specific preferences, dietary restrictions, and nutritional requirements. Cities like Des Moines and Cedar Rapids have memory care facilities that offer well-balanced and appealing meal options for residents.

19. Are there support services available for families of memory care residents in Iowa?

Yes, many memory care communities in Iowa offer support services for families of residents. Family support groups, educational workshops, and regular communication with staff members are common offerings. These services can help families navigate the challenges and emotions of having a loved one in memory care. Cities like Waterloo and Council Bluffs have resources for family support.

20. How can I find memory care communities with a good reputation in Iowa?

To find memory care communities with a good reputation in Iowa, read online reviews, ask for recommendations from healthcare professionals, and visit facilities in person. Look for communities in cities like Iowa City and Dubuque that have positive testimonials, experienced staff, and a commitment to providing high-quality memory care services.

Iowa Memory Care Facilities provides comprehensive resources on various senior living options, including: assisted living facilities, senior living communities, nursing homes, independent living communities, continuing care retirement communities (CCRC) and all other long term senior care options, including memory care such as Alzheimer's or Dementia.

Additional senior living options in Iowa:

Assisted Living in Iowa Senior Apartments in Iowa Nursing Homes in Iowa

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