Memory Care in Alaska
Approximately 5.8 million Americans currently live with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia, and that number is projected to skyrocket to 13.8 million by 2050. The disease is now the sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S., and the fifth-leading among those aged 65 and older. By 2025, an estimated 11,000 Alaskan’s will be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s—a 47% increase. Thankfully, there are now a number of specialized memory care programs in Alaska.
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.
This guide provides information on memory care costs in Alaska. There’s also an overview of financial assistance programs for those who need memory care services, resource links and a summary of the state laws and regulations which govern Alaska’s residential long-term care facilities.
The Cost of Memory Care in Alaska
The cost of residential memory care services is approximately 20-30% greater than the cost of assisted living care. To determine memory care costs in Alaska, we added 25% to assisted living costs listed on Genworth Financial’s 2019 Cost of Care Survey. The average monthly cost of memory care in Alaska is $7,500, which is well above the national average of $5,064.
Memory Care Costs in Nearby States
Memory care costs in Alaska are exceptionally high when compared to the national average. Costs in states throughout the western states are also lower than costs in Alaska. In Washington state, the average monthly cost of residential memory care services is $6,875, while further south, costs in Oregon average $5,624 per month and $5,625 in California.
The United States
Cost of Other Types of Care in Alaska
Alaska seniors who need long-term care have a number of community-based and residential options to choose from. The least-expensive service is adult day care at an average cost of $3,328 per month, while the costliest is nursing home care at $30, 219 for a semi-private room. Seniors who can safely remain in their homes with support can expect to spend about $5,621 per month for 44 hours of weekly homemaker service, and $5,716 per month for a home health aide. Assisted living, which includes room and board, costs about $6,000 per month.
Home Health Care
Adult Day Care
Assisted Living Facility
Nursing Home Care
The Cost of Memory Care in Alaska’s Top Cities
Costs vary depending on the location, and in Alaska, monthly memory care costs are $1,173 higher in Fairbanks ($8,673) than in Anchorage ($7,500). As there are only two major cities in Alaska listed on the Genworth Study, we’ve also included costs from cities in Washington State and Oregon for comparison.
Financial Assistance for Memory Care in Alaska
Alaskans Living Independently Medicaid Home and Community Based Waiver
The Alaskans Living Independently home and community-based Medicaid waiver funds memory care services for Medicaid members who meet the clinical criteria for nursing home placement, but who are able to safely live in a less-restrictive setting such as a memory care facility. Services provided through the ALI are assigned on a case-by-case basis and may include assistance with activities of daily living, adult day health services and private-duty nursing.
Who is Eligible?
Seniors 65 and older who are financially eligible for Medicaid, and who require the level of care normally provided in a nursing home setting due to dementia may be eligible for enrollment in the ALI. The ALI is not an entitlement program, therefore, eligibility does not guarantee enrollment.
How to Apply
To apply to the ALI, seniors or their legal representatives can contact the Division of Senior and Disabilities Services at 1 (00) 478-9996 or the nearest Aging and Disability Resource Center at 1 (877) 625-2372.
Alaska Pioneer Homes
Alaska Pioneer Homes is a network of six state-owned and operated licensed assisted living homes that provide eligible seniors with a safe, supportive residential placement with 24 hour staffing, nursing services, recreational programming and specialized dementia care. The average age of Pioneer Homes residents is 86, and approximately 58% have Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia.
Care costs in Pioneer Homes are significantly lower than the cost of care in comparable memory care facilities in the state, and financial assistance is available for those unable to pay the full monthly fees.
Who is Eligible?
To apply for placement in a Pioneer Home, seniors must be aged 60 or older and have resided in Alaska for a minimum of one full year. Applicants must also be assessed by a medical professional as being unable to safely live independently as a result of a physical and/or cognitive disability or age-related loss of function.
How to Apply
To apply, seniors or their representatives can download an application and drop it off at the nearest Pioneer Home, or submit the application to the Division of Alaska Pioneer Homes Central Office located in Juneau.
VA Aid and Attendance and Housebound Allowance Benefits
VA Aid and Attendance and the Housebound Allowance are two VA pension top-up programs that provide cash benefits to eligible applicants. These benefits can be used towards the cost of memory care services.
Who Is Eligible?
To qualify for either the Aid and Attendance allowance or Housebound benefits, veterans, survivors and dependents must first qualify for the regular VA pension. Qualifying illnesses and/or disabilities do not need to be service-related.
Those who need assistance with activities of daily living, are legally blind, live in a nursing home or are bedridden may apply for Aid and Attendance. Housebound is open to applicants who have a disability rated at 100% by the VA which largely limits them to their home, which may be a memory care facility.
How to Apply
To apply for either of these VA pension top-up benefits, contact the nearest VA location.
Free and Low-Cost Memory Care Resources in Alaska
There are a number of government agencies and non-profit organizations offering free and low-cost memory care resources throughout Alaska. These resources include assistance with Medicaid and Medicare coverage, help with accessing VA benefits and support groups for Alzheimer’s patients, caregivers and family members.
|Alzheimer’s Association – Alaska Chapter||(800) 272-3900||The National Alzheimer’s Association offers in-person and online support groups for people living with Alzheimer’s disease, as well as caregivers and family members. The AA also provides free information and referral services.|
|Aging and Disability Resource Centers||(855) 565-2017||Alaska’s statewide network of six regional Aging and Disability Resource Centers provide free and low-cost services designed to support older adults. Services vary from center to center and may include assistance with transportation to medical services, case management and information about local memory care programs.|
|State Health Insurance Counseling and Assistance Programs||(800_ 478-6065||The State Health Insurance Counseling and Assistance Program provides elders and their caregivers with free, unbiased health insurance counseling. Trained volunteer SHIP counselors are available for one-on-one in-person or phone counselling sessions to help older adults understand the various Medicare, Medigap, Medicaid and Medicare Advantage options.|
|Alaska Office of Veterans Affairs||(888) 248-3682||Alaska’s Office of Veterans Affairs provides free support and information to veterans, dependents and survivors who need help applying for VA benefit programs such as Aid and Attendance and Housebound. Certified Veterans Services Officers can also assist with VA medical benefits, and arrange transportation to the nearest VA medical center.|
|Alzheimer’s Resource of Alaska||(800) 478-1080||The Alzheimer’s Resource of Alaska is a non-profit organization that provides programs and services to seniors and caregivers statewide. Services include care coordination, dementia care education and training, and in-person and phone-based support groups.|
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.|
|Medicaid Coverage||Alaskans Living Independently is a Medicaid home and community-based services waiver that funds memory care services for eligible Medicaid beneficiaries.|
|Reporting Abuse||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.