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Alaska Residential Alzheimer’s Care (Memory Care): Laws, Costs & Financial Help

Last Updated: November 13, 2022

 

Assisted living homes in Alaska provide room and board for people who are elderly or need help. That mainly includes assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) like eating and bathing but they also provide healthcare and nursing services.

Unlike most other states, Alaska does not have additional rules for Alzheimer’s units in assisted living homes. The two exceptions are that a special alarm system has to be installed that alerts staff if someone wanders out of the building. The second difference is that there isn’t extra training required to learn how to care for dementia patients. Training is required for all staff that cares for assisted living patients.

There are about 20 memory care communities in Alaska who are regulated by the state’s Department of Health and Social Services. There are also almost 500 board-and-care homes, many of which offer services for people with Alzheimer’s disease (or related dementias including vascular dementia, frontotemporal dementia, Lewy body dementia, and Parkinson’s disease dementia).  For free help finding a living option for your loved one with one of these illnesses, click here.

 Did You Know?  Alaska has a very small population of people with Alzheimer’s disease, but its rates are increasing quickly. Growing at almost 30% every year, by 2025, 11,000 Alskans will have some form of dementia.

 

How Much Does Memory Care Cost in Alaska?

The average cost of assisted living with memory care in Alaska is $8,282 per month. This is about 50% more expensive than the states located in the lower 48.

In terms of the cost of care for your loved one, there are differences statewide. To the south, in the state’s largest city, Anchorage, the average cost of memory care is $8,171 monthly. In comparison, memory care is most expensive in “the bush” and Alaska’s rural areas. The cost can climb to $9,681 monthly so rural residents might want to consider moving to Anchorage and Fairbanks for long-term care options. This will obviously depend on where your loved one is comfortable and accessible.

Alaska Memory Care / Assisted Living Costs (updated June 2022)
Region / City Daily Cost Monthly Cost
Statewide $272 $8,282
Anchorage $269 $8,171
Fairbanks $288 $8,760
Rest of the state $318 $9,681

  In Alaska, free assistance is available to help families locate a memory care home to meet their needs and budgets, even if that home is located in the considerably less expensive lower 48. Get help here.

 

Alaska Assisted Living Laws & Regulations

Admissions Requirements & Process

 Covid-19 Related Measures (updated June 2022)
The additional measures left due to Covid are:
Residents- Their temperatures are checked and patients are also tested regularly.
Visitors- Can visit loved ones, must wear a mask and temperature is checked upon entry.
Staff- Have temperatures checked upon entry and are regularly tested. 

Before you can move your loved one into assisted living in Alaska, there must be a services contract. Moving into assisted living in Alaska on short notice is going to be difficult because you’ll need to have a contract that includes:

– Which activities of daily living (ADLs) the person can and cannot do themselves
– Physical disabilities and ailments
– Living preferences (How does the person like their environment?)

You should begin this process by making an appointment with your loved one’s doctor for a professional evaluation; don’t just answer the assessment questions yourself. The state of Alaska does not provide a standard form for these assessments. Paying for the medical portion of this assessment (the doctor’s appointment) is typically the responsibility of the person moving in, but Medicare recipients will have some of the costs covered. Medicare offers an annual free “wellness visit” (also called a “cognitive assessment”) that screens for dementia symptoms, which can begin the process of getting information you need to move into memory care.

Everyone considering moving into assisted living in the state is entitled to the following information from a specific residence:

– Rules for phone, visitors, and use of personal property
– Residents’ rights
– Procedure for filing a grievance

Unlike most states, Alaska does not require assisted living communities to provide a breakdown of all costs and fees. Ask for this as a written list, because you want to be very clear on exactly how much a residence charges, including for optional services, before moving in.

No one who needs 24-hour skilled nursing care for more than 45 days may move into an Alaskan assisted living community.

 

Facility

Assisted living homes with residents who have Alzheimer’s disease, or a related dementia, must have state-approved alarms on doors with outside access, to prevent a patient from wandering away. Bedrooms for one person must be at least 80 square feet, and 140 square feet for two people. Two people is the maximum number allowed in one room. One toilet, sink, and shower or bath is required for every six residents.

Alaska does not require the building itself to be designed as dementia-friendly. In many other states, rooms and hallways in memory care residences must have dementia-friendly features like layouts that are easily navigated by someone who frequently becomes confused and lost. For this reason, you’ll want to closely inspect any residence before moving your loved one in.

 

Staff & Training

There are no staffing-ratio requirements in Alaska’s assisted living homes.  It is excepted that there must be adequate staff on-hand at all times to serve the needs of every resident. There must always be someone working who has CPR and first-aid training, and criminal background checks are required for all employees. Administrators must be at least 21, with adequate education and experience, to be licensed by the state. The state determines what education and experience are adequate based on the population at the specific residence. Administrators must also have 18 hours of continuing education annually.
New staff members must have an orientation within 14 days of hiring that includes the following:
– Residence’s policies and procedures
– Recognizing abuse or neglect
– Interacting with residents
– Reporting requirements

 

Evictions

An Alaskan assisted living home is not allowed to admit or house residents whose needs are greater than what can be provided there. In other words, if the home cannot care for someone with middle- or later-stage dementia, then someone with that level of illness may not live there. This sounds obvious, but it’s possible that a person’s dementia would advance until the place they’re living becomes inappropriate. In this case, the patient would need to be evicted, and you’ll have to find a new place for your loved one to live.

There are no rules that say a person can be evicted for nonpayment or disruptive behavior, but residences may have their own policies concerning what to do when someone cannot pay their bill or acts aggressively toward staff and other residents. When moving into an assisted living home, you should ask for the specific reasons a person can be evicted, and get the answer in writing.

At least 30 days’ notice is required before someone has to move out, however. Regulations do not require the residence to find a new place for your loved one to live if eviction becomes necessary, but management may still be able to help. For more information on evictions, including what steps to take if you receive an eviction notice, click here.

 

Financial Assistance for Residential Alzheimer’s Memory Care

Alaskans Living Independently Medicaid Waiver

This Medicaid program is a Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) waiver primarily for people who need nursing-home-level care but want to remain in their houses. Residents in assisted living may also be eligible for some of the benefits. Recipients must be Medicaid-eligible (see Alaska Medicaid eligibility criteria here). The costs of care in assisted living (including assisted living with memory care) are among the benefits, but Medicaid will not cover room and board. The number of people who can receive services under this waiver is limited, so there may be a waiting list. For more information, click here or take a eligibility test for Alaska Medicaid here.

 

Senior Benefits

Alaska’s Senior Benefits Program is a non-Medicaid program for state residents with low or moderate income who need help covering the costs of personal and medical care. People participating in this program may use the funds for anything, including assisted living. The amount of money provided under the program is $76, $175, or $250 per month, depending on the recipient’s income. The application and additional information are available on the Division of Public Assistance website here.

 

Pioneer Homes

Alaska Pioneer Homes are state-run assisted living residences that serve elderly people including those with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia. These homes are less expensive than privately owned assisted living residences, and financial assistance is available for those who need it. Applicants to live in Pioneer Homes must be at least 65, Medicare-eligible, and require assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) like dressing and bathing. Applicants are assessed for need and placed in a home that can best take care of them. There are only six Pioneer Homes in Alaska, with a limited number of beds, so expect a waiting list. The homes are in Fairbanks, Palmer, Anchorage, Sitka, Juneau, and Ketchikan. For an application, click here.

 

Veterans Affairs (VA)

Veterans are statistically more likely to develop dementia. Among the reasons for this is that traumatic brain injuries and posttraumatic stress disorder lead to a higher probability of developing the condition. The VA offers many benefits for Alzheimer’s and dementia as well as different pension types.

 

VA Pensions

There are three types of VA Pensions available. The benefits change annually and are valid from December 2022 to December 2023. The benefits (and their maximum allowance) are as follows:

1) Basic Pension – This benefit is also known as a death pension. It is for veterans and surviving spouses who are aged or disabled. The qualifying disability does not need to be related to their military service. On an annual basis, the Basic Pension pays:

– Veterans without spouses or children up to $16,073

– Veterans with dependent spouses or children up to $21,001

– Surviving spouses without dependent children up to $10,756

2) Aid & Attendance – Abbreviated as A&A, this is an important program for veterans and their surviving spouses who require assistance with activities of daily living. This means they need assistance with activities like bathing, dressing, and eating. A&A is particularly helpful for people with dementia, especially in the middle and later stages of the disease, when the need for more assistance becomes necessary. A&A is intended to help with the long-term care costs of adult day care, in-home care, assisted living, memory care, and skilled nursing. Based on an individual’s need and the progression of the disease, most of these additional services that support your loved one will become necessary. Annually, the A&A pays:

– Veterans without spouses or children a maximum of $26,751

– Veterans with dependent spouses or children a maximum of $31,713

– Surviving spouses without dependent children a maximum of $17,191

3) Housebound – For veterans and surviving spouses who are permanently disabled and unable to leave their homes, making them require additional assistance. The definition of “home” can include assisted living, memory care, and nursing home. The Housebound pension, like the A&A pension, is meant to help cover long-term care costs. Annually, the Housebound pays:

– Veterans without spouses or children a maximum of $19,598

– Veterans with dependent spouses or children a maximum of $24,562

– Surviving spouses without dependent children a maximum of $13,145

 More information on VA Pensions’ eligibility criteria, payment rates and the application process is available here.

 

Veterans’ Homes

Alaska has one veterans’ home located in downtown Palmer, just north of Anchorage. Veterans’ homes provide long-term residential care for veterans. In addition to nursing home care, assisted living and memory care may be provided. Payment is made directly from the VA to the facility. The home in Palmer has space to accommodate 79 patients. For more information, and to contact the VA home, click here. You’ll want to talk with staff there about your loved one’s specific needs.

 

Other Options

1) Elder care loans exist for families to cover the costs of moving into memory care while waiting for other financial resources to become available. For example, if one is waiting for a VA pension to be approved or waiting to sell a home. More on bridge loans for memory care.

2) Tax credits and deductions like the Credit for the Elderly and the Disabled, or the Child and Dependent Care Credit (if you can claim your elderly loved one as a dependent). Remember also that medical and dental expenses can be deducted, and that can include assisted living costs.

3) A reverse mortgage can be an option for a married person moving into memory care, if their spouse continues to live in the home. However, if the spouse moves from their home, the reverse mortgage becomes due.