What is the Specialized Dementia Care Program?

In the United States, the Specialized Dementia Care Program has been created to help persons with dementia who can not longer live at home and needs state-funding (Medicaid) to help pay for long-term care in a facility.

The program is only available for persons who are eligible for Medicaid.

Please note: The information in this article was correct at the time of writing and we strive to keep it current, but things can change quickly. We therefore recommend that you reach out directly to the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) for the latest information before making any decisions.


  • The Specialized Dementia Care Program is offered through the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS).
  • The eligible person will receive a package of specialized dementia care services in an Assisted Living Facility.

Dementia care

Who is eligible?

In order to be eligible, the person must meet all three of the following criteria:

      1. The diagnose criteria

The person must be diagnosed with Alzheimer´s disease or another irreversible form of dementia, e.g. vascular dementia, Pick´s disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, or Lewy body dementia.

      1. The Medicaid criteria

The person must be eligible for Medicaid state assistance.

      1. The DSHS approval criteria

The person must be approved by a DSHS assigned case manager. The case manager will assess the person to determine if the person have the need for specialized dementia care.


The person can only receive their package of specialized dementia care services if there is space available in one of the Assisted Living Facilities that contracts with DSHS to provide this package. Due to limited funding, the DSHS only contracts with a small number of Assisted Living Facilities in each state.

What distinguishes the specialized dementia care service package?

The specialized dementia care service package is comprised of several parts. Here are a few examples:

  • The Assisted Living Facility staff has received dementia-specific training.
  • There is staff awake at the facility around the clock, seven days a week.
  • The outdoor environment is designed to be safe and suitable for persons with dementia.
  • The care, supervision and activities are tailored to the person with dementia. This can include coordination with the person´s family.
  • There will be intermittent nursing services, help with medications, personal care, and other support services.

What is dementia?

A person with dementia will experience loss of cognitive functioning to such an extent that it interferes with their daily life and activities. Dementia ranges in severity from mild to severe. In severe cases of dementia, the person will depend on others for basic living activities.

Various disorders and factors contribute to the development of dementia, and we are still far from understanding every aspect of it.

There are several types of dementia, such as Alzheimer´s disease, frontotemporal dementia, Lewy body dementia, vascular dementia, Pick´s disease, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease dementia. In the United States, the most common dementia diagnosis among older adults is Alzheimer´s disease. The changes in the brain that can be observed in a brain impacted by Alzheimer´s disease include abnormal build-ups of certain proteins.

Some persons are diagnosed with mixed dementia; a combination of two or more types of dementia.

This article was last updated on: January 30, 2023