Assisted living homes in Alaska provide a homelike residence for people who are elderly or need help with activities of daily living (ADLs) like eating and bathing. Room and board with meals is standard, and personal or healthcare services beyond just help with ADLs may also be provided.
Unlike most other states, Alaska does not have additional rules for assisted living homes with Alzheimer’s units, except that a special alarm system should be installed that alerts staff if someone with dementia wanders out of the building. Training is required for all staff to care for assisted-living residents, but there is no additional training required in homes that serve people with dementia (most states do require additional training).
Also unlike other states, Alaska has state-run assisted living residences that are cheaper than privately owned communities. These are called Pioneer Homes, and may include services for people with dementia. For more on Pioneer Homes, see below.
Assisted living in Alaska is regulated by the state’s Department of Health and Social Services.
The average cost of assisted living with memory care in Alaska is $7,857 per month, which breaks down to about $258 per day and $94,284 annually. When considering moving into any assisted living home in Alaska, be sure to ask for a breakdown of all costs, including base rates and any additional fees for optional services. This information should be available, and you should file it as defense against unexpected charges in the future.
Assisted living, without the additional services required for memory care, costs Alaskans about $6,005 per month and $72,060 annually.
In the state’s largest city, Anchorage, the average cost of memory care exactly matches the state average ($7,857 monthly and $94,284 per year). Memory care is most expensive in Fairbanks, where it costs about $9,094 per month and $109,128 annually.
Every person in Alaskan assisted living must have a services contract in place before moving in. That contract will include the following:
– 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?)
The state of Alaska does not provide a standard form for these assessments.
Everyone who is 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
No one who needs 24-hour skilled nursing care for more than 45 days may move into an Alaskan assisted living community.
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 person 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.
There are no staffing-ratio requirements in Alaskan assisted living homes, except to say 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
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, though 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.
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.
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 are statistically more likely to develop dementia. Relevant in all states including Alaska is the VA’s Aid & Attendance pension program for veterans and surviving spouses, which is money added to veterans’ and survivors’ basic pensions. Applicants must be at least 65 years old (or disabled) and require assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) like eating, bathing, and mobility. The cash assistance from these pensions can be used as the recipient wishes, meaning it can go toward the cost of memory care. In addition, the cost of residential care can be deducted from income, effectively reducing the amount of calculable income used to determine the benefit amount. The latest (2020) maximum amount a veteran can receive through A&A is $27,194 per year, and surviving spouses can receive $14,761. Learn more here.
There are also veterans’ homes in Alaska, which are facilities providing 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. State veterans’ homes are typically reserved for veterans whose need for care stems at least 70 percent from their service. Because there is often a waiting list, contact a home before visiting to see if your loved one is eligible to live there.
Other ways to help pay for memory care include tax credits and deductions like the Credit for the Elderly and the Disabled, or the Child and Dependent Care Credit (if you claim your elderly loved one as a dependent). Remember also that medical and dental expenses can be deducted, and that might include some assisted living costs.
A reverse mortgage may be a good option for a married person moving into memory care, if their spouse continues to live in the home. Should the spouse move, the reverse mortgage would become due.
Elder care loans are for families to cover costs of moving into memory care, if you need a little help at first but can afford costs after the initial payments. For example, if one is waiting for a VA pension to be approved or waiting to sell a home.