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).
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 (HCBS).
The Alaskans Living Independently Waiver covers all age groups from 21 years and older, but the services delivered vary based on need (such as disability). For adults aged 65+ it can pay for care services in an assisted living facility providing memory care services, but it can’t pay room and board costs. The Personal Care Services Program provides two options for care. The first is handing care services directly to an agency, which handles all aspects, and the second is allowing the senior and their family to self-direct care, which means they hire, fire and direct their personally chosen care providers.
What Memory Care Services are Covered by Medicaid in Alaska
Alaskans Living Independently Waiver
This HCBS waiver is open to seniors aged 65 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.
Personal Care Services Program
The Personal Care Services Program pays for support to aid the senior’s activities of daily living (ADL), which typically means assistance with bathing, dressing, toileting and general personal care. There are two options open to successful applicants. They can choose to have a professional agency handle every aspect of their care, or take on the role themselves with support and guidance from the Senior and Disabilities Services Division of the Alaska Department of Health.
To qualify for the program, the applicant must have a recognized disability. Although memory loss doesn’t fall within this category, seniors experiencing cognitive decline who also have a recognized disability may be eligible.
Private agencies handle the application process. To get more information and get the contact details of a local agency, call (907) 269-3453.
How to Know if You’re Eligible for Medicaid in Alaska
The monthly income limit is $1,561 for a single applicant (or $18,732 annually), whose assets don’t exceed $2,000. For one or both persons applying from a two-person household, it’s $27,744 and $3,000. However, if one spouse remains at home and the other receives residential care, the remaining spouse can retain assets of up to $137,400.
2022 Basic Medicaid Income Limits for Seniors in Alaska
|Annual income limits||Asset limits|
|Two-Person Household |
(One person applying)
(Both people applying)
In addition to satisfying income and asset limits, applicants most also pass certain other criteria. They include being:
- A U.S. citizen or legal resident
- A resident of Alaska
- Aged 65 and older
- In need of nursing home levels of care
How to Apply for Medicaid in Alaska
To apply for Medicaid in Alaska, residents can contact their local office of the Seniors and Disabilities Services Division of the Alaska Department of Health. Alternatively, they can contact their local Aging and Disability Resource Center or sign in at MyAlaska, click on “ARIES – Public Assistance” under the “Services for Individuals” heading.
What Information You Will Need
You will be asked for certain key pieces of information and evidence, so it’s prudent to have these ready before you start your application to avoid potential delays. They include:
- Birth certificate
- Social Security number
- Proof of income
- Proof of your Alaskan address
- Proof of legal U.S. residency (such as a passport or permanent residency documents)
- Previous 60 months of bank statements
- Insurance policies for all members of the household
- Title deeds of properties owned
How to Get Help Applying for Medicaid
As with many other bureaucratic processes, applying for Medicaid can be a challenging process for anyone. Here are some resources that provide information and direct support for free.
|Alaska Commission on Aging||(907) 465-4793||With offices statewide staffed by trained counselors, the commission can help seniors apply for Medicaid and keep track of their applications.|
|Healthcare.gov||(800) 318-2596||Alaskans can apply online directly through Healthcare.gov. It’s a step-by-step application process with helpful online guides and phone support. The Alaskan Department of Health recommends this route as it’s often the speediest.|
|Benefits.gov||(800) 770-5650||This is the federal government website for all national benefits. It’s an extensive source of information about Medicaid for seniors and families who prefer to do their own research before contacting local sources, such as Healthcare.gov.|
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.
|Name||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.|
|Reverse Mortgages||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.
|Aging and Disability Resource Centers||(800) 478-2221||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.|
|Alaska Comprehensive Health Insurance Association||(888) 290-0616||This nonprofit organization helps seniors who've been denied health insurance to access coverage. The service provided by this organization is free of charge.|
|Alaska Long-Term Care Ombudsman||(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||(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.|
|Alaska Legal Services Corporation (ALSC)||(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.|
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
Directory of Memory Care Facilities in Alaska
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