Memory Care in Alaska
More than 730,000 people call Alaska home and of those who live there, an estimated 12.5% are seniors aged 65 and older. Many of the state’s seniors live with memory and cognitive issues, particularly Alzheimer’s disease. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 8,500 Alaskan seniors were living with Alzheimer’s as of 2020 and by 2025, that number is expected to increase 29.4% to 11,000. Unfortunately, 128 seniors died of Alzheimer’s disease in 2019, resulting in a 172.3% increase in deaths since 2000.
Seniors who prefer to stay out of the heat can appreciate the mild summers and chilly winters in Alaska. The state’s average summer high is just 64 degrees, while a January low of 3 degrees and 74 inches of snow are the norm in the state. Alaska has an above-average number of physicians, as well as above-average water and air quality indexes. When it comes to the cost of living in Alaska, seniors can expect to pay a little more than in the average U.S. state. The overall cost of living is more than 25% above the U.S. average. Memory care in Alaska costs an average of $8,538 per month.
Memory care can either be offered on its own in a community designed especially for those with dementia or Alzheimer’s, or more often, it’s provided as a service in a separate wing of an assisted living facility. Memory care programs are designed specifically for those with memory impairment, and the facilities often coordinate social activities and schedules specifically for the needs of those living with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
In this guide, readers can find a comprehensive overview of the average cost of memory care in Alaska and throughout other U.S. states. Additionally, this guide compares the cost of memory care with those of other types of care throughout the state and provides information about financial help, state regulations and local resources for seniors who are living with memory loss.
The Cost of Memory Care in Alaska
Note: The Genworth 2021 Cost of Care Survey is seen as the most authoritative source detailing the cost of long-term care for seniors throughout the U.S., however, it doesn’t provide data about memory care costs. Because memory care generally costs between 20-30% more than assisted living, we’ve increased the assisted living costs provided by the Genworth 2021 Cost of Care Survey by 25% to estimate memory care costs throughout this guide.
The average cost of memory care in Alaska is high when compared with other northern and off-shore U.S. states. At $8,538 per month, its monthly average cost is much higher than in Washington ($7,500), Montana ($5,563) or Hawaii ($6,719).
The United States
Throughout Alaska, Fairbanks features the most expensive monthly average memory care cost at $9,063 per month, with Anchorage coming in at just over $500 less at $8,456 per month. Further south in Seattle, Washington, seniors can expect to pay about the same at $8,438 per month, while in Billings, Montana ($5,705) and Honolulu, Hawaii ($6,719), memory care costs considerably less.
It’s important to remember that there are options outside of memory care for seniors who don’t deal with severe memory loss. That includes adult day health care, which costs an average of $1,562 per month, or home care and home health care, which cost an average of $5,720 per month. Those who require residential care without the additional focus on memory and cognitive skills can consider assisted living, which costs an average of $6,830 per month, or nursing home care, which is much more expensive at $31,512 monthly.
Adult Day Health Care
Home Health Care
Nursing Home (semiprivate)
Nursing Home (private)
Does Medicaid Cover Memory Care in Alaska?
Note: For the purposes of this guide, when we say “Memory Care” we are referring to memory care provided in a “social setting,” such as an Assisted Living Facility. This is the most common way to receive Memory Care and is the best fit for all but the frailest seniors. Sometimes the actual service of memory care can be provided in a Nursing Home (“medical setting”), so the financial assistance options will be very different. To learn more about the financial assistance options available for memory care provided in a nursing home, read our guide to Nursing Home Care in Alaska.
Alaska’s Medicaid program doesn’t provide direct coverage for memory care. However, some services may be paid for under Home and Community-Based Services waivers.
Alaskans Living Independently Waiver
This HCBS waiver is open to seniors aged 54 and older, as well as those aged 21 through 64 who are living with a physical disability. It provides coordination of care services, as well as respite care, specialized medical equipment and personal care. While the program is designed to help seniors live independently, the services this waiver provides can be provided to those who reside in long-term care facilities.
To qualify for this program, seniors must meet age requirements and they must require a nursing level of care. Additionally, there are asset and income requirements that seniors must meet to be eligible for this program. As of 2022, seniors must have no more than $2,000 in assets, excluding the value of their home and other non-countable effects, and their income can’t exceed $2,382 per month.
To apply, seniors can contact the Division of Senior & Disabilities Services at (800) 478-9996.
Does Medicare Cover Memory Care in Alaska?
The short answer is that no, Medicare does not cover the cost of memory care in Alaska. As was mentioned above, this doesn’t apply to Memory Care received in a Nursing Home. Since it is the most common to receive memory care in a “social setting” (such as an assisted living facility), Medicare won’t be a viable financial assistance option for most seniors who need Memory Care. However, Medicare will still cover things like approved medications, doctor visits, medical equipment, etc., just like it would if you lived at home.
For more information about when Medicare can be used to pay for Memory Care in a nursing home, and for Medicare-related resources, see our guide to Nursing Homes in Alaska.
Other Financial Assistance Options for Memory Care in Alaska
Seniors who are not eligible (due to location, financial situation, or other factors) for other types of financial assistance, do still have some options. See the table below for an overview of some of the most common ways to make Memory Care affordable.
How to Apply
How It Works
Aid and Attendance
Learn more and apply online at va.gov.
Veterans who receive a VA pension may also be eligible for the Aid and Attendance benefit, a monthly cash allowance that veterans receive in addition to their standard pension amount. The benefit is intended for veterans in need of long-term care services and may be used towards paying for Memory Care.
Learn more about your options and how to apply at ftc.gov
If you own a home, you may be able to use a reverse mortgage to help pay for Memory Care. Reverse mortgages are loans that one can take out against the value of their home, essentially converting some of the home's equity into cash. Reverse mortgage loans do need to be repaid with interest, typically within 12 months of receiving the loan.
Long-Term Care (LTC) Insurance
Learn more about Long-Term Care Insurance and how to apply for a policy at acl.gov.
Seniors who already have long-term care insurance may be able to use it to pay for Memory Care. Most policies cover at least a portion of the cost, but it depends on the specific policy terms. Note that older adults who are already in need of Memory Care will not typically be eligible to sign up for a LTC insurance policy.
Free and Low-Cost Resources for Seniors in Alaska
There are several free and low-cost resources that are available to seniors who live in Alaska. While some of these services provide help accessing memory care, others provide necessities such as meal delivery, personal care, help with insurance and advocacy for those who continue to live independently.
Alaska's Aging and Disability Resource Centers help seniors in the state, as well as their caregivers, to connect with long-term care services and other supports that exist within their communities. That can include financial benefits, transportation services, in-home personal care and meal assistance.
This nonprofit organization helps seniors who've been denied health insurance to access coverage. The service provided by this organization is free of charge.
(907) 334-4480 or (800) 730-6393
The Long-Term Care Ombudsman ensures that long-term care facilities are adhering to federal and state care laws. This office is authorized to resolve complaints filed by seniors or concerned loved ones.
Adult Protective Services
Contact by submitting a report online or call (800) 478-9996
Adult Protective Services is a state agency that is committed to protecting the rights and safety of vulnerable adults and senior citizens. It investigates reports of elder abuse and neglect, as well as those of self neglect, providing solutions for seniors who may require additional in-home support or residential long-term care.
Complete an online application or call (888) 478-2572
ALSC is a nonprofit law firm that offers pro bono legal services for seniors and low-income families in Alaska. While most beneficiaries aged 60 and above don't have to meet any income requirements, low-income seniors are prioritized, in most cases.
COVID-19 Rules for Memory Care in Alaska
The following information is based on research done on several government websites, including dhss.alaska.gov. These rules apply to nursing homes and other types of senior living facilities. We’ve most recently updated this data on 2/2/2022, but since COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving pandemic, contact your local senior living facility or Area Agency on Aging for more specific and up-to-date information.
Are loved ones allowed to visit to provide emotional support?
Are relatives allowed to visit for end-of-life care?
Are residents required to quarantine after visiting with a loved one?
Are visitors required to wear PPE (including masks) in order to visit residents?
Are non-medical contractors (such as hairdressers and entertainers) allowed in senior living facilities?
Are visitors checked for elevated temperatures?
Are visitors required to answer questions about health, travel, and potential virus contact?
Outings & Social Activities
Are residents allowed to leave (errands, visiting family, etc.) for non-medical reasons?
Are residents who leave required to quarantine when they return?
Are senior living communities required to cancel all group outings?
Are residents allowed to eat meals together in a common area?
Are residents allowed to gather in common areas for group activites?
*Note: This information was not available for this state, contact your local area agency on aging or senior living facility for more information.
COVID-19 Safety Measures for Staff and Residents
Are staff members regularly required to do a temperature check?
Are staff members regularly tested for COVID-19?
Are staff members members regularly required to do a health and safety screening, including questions about travel, contact with positive cases, etc?
Are residents regularly screened for COVID-19 symptoms?
Are residents regularly checked for elevated temperatures?
Are residents regularly tested for COVID-19?
Memory Care Laws and Regulations in Alaska
Residential memory care services in Alaska are largely delivered in assisted living facilities, which are required to comply with a number of rules and regulations around staff screening, medication delivery and safety. These facilities are licensed by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, Division of Health Care Services.
Scope of Care
Facilities provide assistance with activities of daily living, recreational and social activities, accommodations and meals. If the facility has a licensed nurse on staff, limited nursing tasks may be performed under the supervision of the licensee. Facilities may not admit residents who require skilled nursing care for 45 days or more, or who have a mental illness that requires treatment in a specialized facility.
Care Plan Requirements
A comprehensive care plan must be prepared within 30 days of admission, and approved by the resident and/or their legal representative. Care plans must be reviewed at least once per year, or more frequently if the resident presents major behavioral and/or health changes.
Medication Management Requirements
Residents may self-administer medications with the assistance of staff. Only licensed nursing staff may administer medications in accordance with rules established by the state Board of Nursing.
Staff Screening Requirements
Prior to providing direct care services, staff must successfully pass a criminal background check and a tuberculosis test.
Staff Training Requirements
Caregivers must complete at least 12 hours of continuing education related to dementia care annually, and at least one staff with current first aid and CPR certification must be on duty at all times.
Alaskans Living Independently is a Medicaid home and community-based services waiver that funds memory care services for eligible Medicaid beneficiaries.
Anyone who suspects or witnesses the abuse of an elder in Alaska should file a report with Alaska’s Adult Protective Services or contact local law enforcement. Concerns regarding the quality of care in an assisted living facility should be reported to the State of Alaska, Long Term Care Ombudsman Office.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Much Does Memory Care Cost in Alaska?
Statewide, the average cost of residential memory care in Alaska is $7,500 per month. Actual costs may vary based on the type of facility, the location, and what services and therapies are included.
Does Alaska Medicaid Pay for Memory Care?
Yes. Alaskans Living Independently is a Medicaid home and community-based waiver that covers care costs for Medicaid beneficiaries who meet the criteria for nursing home placement, but who are able to reside in a less restrictive setting such as a memory care community.
What Are Activities of Daily Living?
Activities of daily living, commonly referred to as ADLs, are the daily self-care skills one needs to do in order to maintain health, wellness and personal hygiene. ADLs include taking a shower or bath, using the toilet, getting dressed, eating and dental care. Advanced age, physical disability and/or cognitive decline can make performing ADLs independently a challenge.
What Types of Services Does Memory Care Provide?
Residential memory care programs provide accommodations, housekeeping, laundry service, and three daily meals in a setting that’s designed to reduce agitation and confusion among those living with memory loss. Services vary from program to program, and may also include transportation to medical appointments, daily therapeutic activities led by a recreational therapist, and family support groups.
What Security Features Are Present in Memory Care Facilities?
Memory care facilities are usually equipped with a number of discrete security features designed to minimize wandering among residents. Most facilities electronic locks on exterior doors and delayed egress systems, as well as safe, enclosed outdoor spaces such as a fenced yard or interior courtyard. Some facilities use WanderGuard, a medical alert-style system that allows residents to move freely about the facility while ensuring staff can monitor residents’ whereabouts at all times.