Can I deduct my brother's nursing home memory care expenses?

February 18, 2015 by Dave Du Val, EA
Doctors and nurses walking down hospital hallway

Hey Dave,

My brother was moved to a nursing home/memory care unit. He had to live in the nursing home area until the memory care unit had an opening. When he was in the nursing home area, we had to pay for around the clock outside hourly certified medical assistants until he was able to move into the memory care unit because he was too aggressive to others and the nurses did not have the time to watch him constantly.  The outside care was in addition to the daily costs. Is this cost deductible?




Your brother is fortunate to have someone like you to oversee his care and help with the expenses. We would assume that the additional cost to provide CMAs was as much for your brother's protection as for the other residents. The tax code specifically addresses a person in your brother's predicament; to quote: “The term “chronically ill individual” means any individual who has been certified by a licensed health care practitioner as requiring substantial supervision to protect such individual from threats to health and safety due to severe cognitive impairment.”

An audit on this type of expense will often come down to what is called a “facts and circumstances” test. So it would be wise to obtain and keep the records showing the licensing of the facility your brother is in, as well as copies of the plan of care or other documents demonstrating the necessity of the 24-hour monitoring. With the proper documentation we would think it likely the expense would be sustained if audited. Our answer assumes that all the other requirements to deduct these expenses are met, and that they will not be disallowed for some reason that has nothing to do with the nature of the expense. You can obtain more information on whose expenses you may deduct and how much in IRS Publication 502 Medical and Dental Expenses.

We hope that the facility your brother is in is meeting his needs.

Deductibly Yours,


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