Assisted Living in Alaska
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Families looking for assisted living in Alaska (AK) have a wide array of communities to choose from, since estimated that there are more than 30,000 assisted living communities serving seniors across the U.S., and over 28 statewide. The state is also home to a rapidly growing number of senior citizens, with adults over 65 making up an estimated 11 percent of the population. A resident in an assisted living community in Alaska will pay $6,300 per month on average.
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What You Should Know About Assisted Living in Alaska
Assisted living communities in Alaska are referred to as "assisted living homes," or ALHs. These communities are regulated by the Assisted Living Licensing Division of the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services.
Assisted living homes in Alaska provide help with the various activities of daily living (which include bathing, getting dressed, taking medication and eating) and create a safe, secure environment for their residents.
These homes provide care to those with various disabilities, age-related infirmity or dementia. However, they do not include facilities that help those with chronic mental illnesses or developmental disabilities. They only have to be licensed if they have three or more resident, as do all facilities that fall under the broader umbrella of adult foster homes, or receive any form of government funding.
Financial Assistance for Assisted Living in Alaska
For low-income seniors who may struggle to afford the cost of assisted living, Alaska offers a subsidy program to help reduce the financial burden.
The Senior Benefits Program
The Senior Benefits Program is a monthly subsidy given to Alaskan seniors who meet income and residency requirements. The program offers three benefit tiers that correspond to income levels, and funding is covered by the state budget. The maximum amount allowable for each tier depends on the level of funding available for that year and the number of applicants who are approved. If the budget is not enough to cover the set amount for each income level, the maximum allowable will be reduced, starting with the monthly payments for the highest income level.
Who Is Eligible?
To be eligible for the Senior Benefits Program, seniors must be U.S. citizens who are at least 65 years old. Qualified applicants are Alaskan residents, have a Social Security number (or can provide proof that they have applied for one), and demonstrate financial need. Some Alaskan residents are not eligible for the subsidy, including seniors living in prison or jail; nursing homes; public or private institutions for mental disease; Alaska Pioneers' Homes; or Alaska Veterans' Homes. Seniors living in assisted living communities, however, are usually eligible.
The payment awarded to qualified applicants is calculated by determining which income level the applicant falls under. Seniors who earn 175%, 100% or 75% of the state poverty level are eligible for subsidy payments from one of three tiers, with the lowest earners receiving the highest subsidy.
How to Apply
To apply for the Senior Benefits Program, residents should download the PDF application from the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services website. Completed applications must be mailed or faxed to the Senior Benefits Office using the contact information found here. Applications must be resubmitted each year to determine eligibility based on the updated Alaska Federal Poverty Guidelines.
The state of Alaska offers two Medicaid waivers to eligible seniors who live in assisted living homes. The Alaskans Living Independently (ALI) waiver and the Adults with Physical and Developmental Disability (APDD) waiver are available to allow low-income seniors the option to receive necessary care in a home-like environment.
Who is Eligible?
For both waivers, participants must be over the age of 65 or have a qualifying disability and must meet the eligibility requirements for Medicaid. The ALI waiver is limited to those who require a nursing home-level of care but wish to live independently either in-home or within an assisted living community.
How to Apply
Seniors who qualify for Medicaid must speak with a care coordinator, who will help them apply. An in-home assessment must be conducted to determine your medical needs and daily activity limitations. Care coordinators can be reached through the numbers for the Aging and Disability Resource Center or Senior & Disabilities Services, found in this brochure.
More Ways to Finance Assisted Living
While many families use their own funds or personal assets to pay for assisted living, there are plenty of additional options to cover these costs. Visit our 9 Ways to Pay for Assisted Living page for more information.
Free Assisted Living Resources in Alaska
Seniors in Alaska can take advantage of the many nonprofits and government-funded agencies created to offer information and assistance to anyone demonstrating a need for senior care. These programs can offer a comprehensive breakdown of senior care choices and provide information on any financing options available.
Alaska Area Agency on Aging
The Alaska Commission on Aging provides assistance to seniors in the area. As a national network that includes more than 600 locations across the United States, the AAA provides free services such as information and referrals for senior care, case management, support systems for families and caregivers, assistance with money management, transportation and meals. AAA representatives can also help seniors with applications for available assistance programs and help them understand and maximize the benefits of their insurance. The Alaskan office is located in Juneau and the contact information is listed below.
240 Main Street, Suite 100, 103 P.O. Box 110693, Juneau, AK 99811
Seniors who have served in the armed forces can seek assistance from their nearest Veterans Administration (VA) Center. VA Centers are available to help veteran seniors and their families seek out home-based or residential care and provide financing options. VA representatives can explain the benefits seniors are eligible for, what benefits are already approved, and how those benefits apply to their situation.
Below is a list of VA Centers in Alaska and their contact information:
4400 Business Park Boulevard, Suite B-34, Anchorage, AK 99503
540 4th Avenue, Suite 100, Fairbanks, AK 99701
43299 Kalifonsky Beach Road, Suite 4, Soldotna, AK 99669
851 East West Point Drive, Suite 102, Wasilla, AK 99654
Seniors can also take advantage of the assistance offered by their local Social Security office. Social Security representatives are available to help seniors understand their benefits and how to best apply them to their situation.
You can find the location and contact information for your nearest Social Security office below.
222 W 8th Ave, Anchorage, AK 99513
1-866-772-3081 or TTY: 1-907-271-4799
101 12th Avenue, Fairbanks, AK 99701
1-800-478-0391 or TTY: 1-907-456-0305
709 W 9th St. Room 231, Juneau, AK 99802
1-800-478-7124 or TTY: 1-907-586-7024
Complaints against assisted living communities in Alaska can be filed with the Office of Long Term Care Ombudsman. This federally funded program is available to protect the rights, safety and welfare of Alaska seniors. Relevant complaints include restriction of medical care access, staff shortages, staff behavior, or any other incidents regarding abuse or neglect.
Further information about the Office of Long Term Care Ombudsman can be found below.
3745 Community Park Loop, Suite 200, Anchorage, AK 99508
(907) 334-4480 or (800) 730-6393
Alaska's Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRC) are available across the state to help Alaska seniors access supportive services and care they may be eligible for. These centers can offer information about assisted living communities in the area, information on Medicaid, help seniors apply for services, and refer seniors to support groups or crisis intervention programs. Center specialists will help seniors identify their needs, explore available options, connect them with necessary services, and follow up to ensure their needs are being met. The program is funded by the State of Alaska through a grant that is administered through regional sites.
Visit the Aging and Disability Resource Centers page on the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services website for more information. A list of offices is compiled below.
Box 310, Dillingham, AK 99576
907-842-5257 or Toll free: 1-800-478-5257
3953 Bartlett, P.O. Box 2474, Homer, AK 99603
47255 Princeton Ave. Suite 8, Soldotna, Alaska 99669
201 Third Ave., Suite 102, P.O. Box 3523, Seward, AK 99664
211 Mission Rd. #206 & #208, Kodiak, AK 99615
24 Fort Seward Drive, Haines, AK 99827
Mailing address: P.O. Box 183, Haines, AK 99827
3225 Hospital Drive, Suite 300, Juneau, AK 99801
Ketchikan, Independent Living Specialist
602 Dock Street, Suite 107, Ketchikan, AK 99901
888-452- SAIL(7245) or 907-225-4735
514 Lake Street, Suite C, Sitka, AK 99835
888-500-7245 or 907-747-6859
825 L Street, Suite 203, Anchorage, Alaska 99501
777 N Crusey Ave Suite 101, Wasilla, AK 99654
1424 Moore Street, Fairbanks, AK 99701
Assisted Living Laws and Regulations in Alaska
Seniors who live in Alaska’s assisted living facilities are protected by an extensive set of laws and regulations designed to govern senior care across the state. Some of the more relevant state regulations and laws are listed below.
Assisted Living Service Plan Requirements
Assisted living service plans must be completed within 30 days of admission and must be approved by either the resident or their representative. This plan must outline any strengths or weaknesses a resident has performing the activities of daily living, any impairments or physical disabilities, roommate preferences, selections for living environment, entertainment and food, and the resident's religious affiliation. Service plans identify the services to be provided by the assisted living community or other agencies and will explain how the community will address the resident's health-related needs.
The care planning process involves identifying any risks and providing options to meet the resident's needs regarding their abilities, service needs and preferences. All risks must be discussed with the resident or their representative and allow them the opportunity to assess possible risks when making their selections. The plan must also recognize the right of the assisted living facility to refuse to accept the options and associated risks the resident has chosen.
Service plans will be re-evaluated annually except those that include health-related services which will be subject to quarterly re-evaluations. Residents who need health-related services that require a skilled nurse or those who need hospice care, may select a third-party provider as long as it is not disruptive to the services provided to other residents.
Assisted Living Admission Requirements
Alaska does not have any mandated state admission requirements. However, new residents must not require skilled nursing care for more than 45 days. Seniors who are considered terminal may remain in the community as long as a physician feels their needs are being met.
Assisted Living Scope of Care
Facilities typically provide three types of assistance: help with daily living skills such as grooming and bathing, social interaction support which includes activities, transportation and legal help, and 24-hour monitoring.
In addition, some ALHs may provide residents with intermittent nursing care, hospice services and up to 45 days of skilled nursing care. Residents may also receive assistance with self-administration of medication.
Assisted Living Medicaid Policy
The two Medicaid waiver programs listed above (ALI and APDD) provide assistance with seniors residing in an assisted living facility. In a limited number of cases the state may also supply an optional Social Security supplement to residents.
Assisted Living Facility Requirements
Assisted living communities may provide single or double-occupancy units to residents. Residents who share a room are expected to have reasonable privacy, but this is not specifically defined. For every six residents, the community must provide one sink, one toilet, and one shower or bath. Residents must have storage space for their personal possessions, and the community must have adequate personal hygiene items available. Rooms must be equipped with a signal device so that residents can alert staff when they are unable to do so verbally.
Meals served at assisted living facilities must follow the Food Guide Pyramid, published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. At least three balanced meals must be served daily at regular times and at least one snack must be provided each day. Assisted living communities are encouraged to offer fresh fruits and vegetables as often as they are able. Any religious or health-related food restrictions must be considered during meal preparation, along with ethnic or cultural preferences.
Medication Management Regulations
Medication administration tasks must be delegated by a registered nurse in accordance with Alaska's nurse delegation statute and rules. For residents who self-administer medication, regular staff may at the resident's request give scheduled medication reminders, read labels to residents and check their self-administered dosage against label information, help open medication containers, observe residents as they take medication, and guide or direct the resident's hand while taking medication.
All assisted living communities must have an administrator who oversees daily operations and care providers to meet the daily needs of residents. There is no minimum staff-to-resident ratio, so communities are responsible for determining the number of staff needed for daily operations and to execute any services outlined in care plans. All assisted living homes must have one care provider on staff who is trained in first aid, including cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
Staff Training Requirements
All staff members must complete an orientation that explains set emergency procedures, fire safety, rights of residents, any applicable universal precautions, rules governing resident interaction, house rules, medication management procedures, the layout of the property, and staff reporting responsibilities. Administrators must complete 18 hours of continuing education, and care providers must complete 12 hours.
Staff at assisted living communities are subject to extensive background checks. Individuals convicted of arson, indecent exposure, domestic violence or felonies are ineligible for employment at assisted living homes. Prior to employment, all staff members must submit a sworn statement regarding any convictions and submit to state and federal background checks. The national criminal history check is conducted by submitting fingerprints to the Alaska Department of Public Safety before hire and must be resubmitted every six years.
Requirements for Reporting Abuse
All assisted living communities within Alaska must meet the minimum standards for protecting residents from abuse, exploitation and neglect. Written policies and procedures that explain prohibited behavior are mandatory, and staff must report alleged or suspected abuse to the the Alaska Long Term Care Ombudsman Office or the Alaska Adult Protective Services. All alleged or suspected incidents must be documented, and steps must be taken to immediately remove the threat for further abuse. An investigation must be conducted and the documented results submitted to the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services.