I. Paying for Memory Care in Alaska

The Cost of Memory Care in Alaska

Because of the specialized staff training and resources required to provide high-quality memory care, memory care typically costs more than other types of residential care. On average, memory care will cost 20-30% more than assisted living.

In Alaska, the average monthly cost of assisted living is $6,000, which is nearly $2,000 more than the national average of $4,051. It’s estimated that memory care costs about 20-30% more than standard assisted living care, so seniors can expect to pay an extra $1,200 to $1,800 per month for specialized memory care in Alaska.

Assisted living costs in Alaska can also vary by city. Anchorage, the state’s largest city, matches the state average of $6,000 for monthly care costs, while much smaller Fairbanks’ costs are even higher than the national average, at $6,938 per month. Keep in mind, these costs are for standard assisted living care, and it will cost more for memory care in any city.

   

Alaska Medicaid Programs for Memory Care

Alaskans Living Independently Waiver

The Alaskans Living Independently Waiver is part of Alaska’s Home and Community Based Medicaid Waiver program that offers an alternative to nursing facility care. This waiver supplements services available through the state’s Medicaid plan and helps aging adults remain in a community setting, While the waiver doesn’t cover room and board, it includes coverage for residential supported living and specialized private duty nursing services, which may assist seniors receiving memory care in noninstitutional assisted living homes.

  • Who Is Eligible: Anyone over age 21 can qualify for the ALI Waiver, if they require a nursing home level of care and meet the Medicaid eligibility requirements for income and resources.
  • How to Apply: Interested applicants must first learn if they qualify for the program by visiting their local Aging and Disability Resource Center or calling 1-855-565-2017. After the ADRC determines eligibility, applicants meet with a care coordinator who helps them apply for the waiver, develop a support plan and find service providers. Applicants must also contact the Division of Senior & Disabilities Services at 1-800-478-9996 for a level of care assessment by the SDS Intake and Assessment Unit as part of the application process.

Non-Medicaid Financial Assistance Programs for Memory Care in Alaska

Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias Mini Grants

ADRD Mini Grants provide people suffering from Alzheimer’s or a related dementia with funds for services and essential items that increase their independence and improve their quality of life. These may include medical, vision, dental and hearing services, plus therapeutic devices, adaptive equipment or other services and supplies not available from other sources. Grants are provided by the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority, with a maximum grant request of $2,500 per year. Alzheimer’s Resource of Alaska distributes grants monthly.

  • Who Is Eligible: Anyone diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia is a beneficiary of the Trust qualifies for ADRD Mini Grants.
  • How to Apply: Mail a completed grant application along with an estimate from the vendor providing a requested service or item to Alzheimer’s Resource of Alaska, ATTN: Mini Grants, 1750 Abbott Road, Anchorage, AK 99507. For additional information, visit Alzheimer’s Resource of Alaska or call 907-561-3313 or 1-800-478-1080.

Senior Benefits Program

The Senior Benefits Program pays cash benefits to Alaskan seniors who have low to moderate incomes. Funds are distributed monthly at three payment levels based on income, with beneficiaries receiving $76, $175 or $250 in 2020. Recipients may use the benefit payment to help cover the cost of memory care or for any other purpose.

  • Who Is Eligible: Alaskan residents age 65 or older who are U.S. citizens or qualified aliens, have a Social Security number or proof of application and countable income that doesn’t exceed the program’s current income limits are eligible for the program.
  • How to Apply: Fill out an application and mail or fax it to any Division of Public Assistance office. For more information, contact the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services’ Senior Benefits office at 907-352-4150 or 1-888-352-4150.

More Ways to Pay for Memory Care

In addition to the state programs mentioned above, those looking for resources to finance memory care may consider:

  • Long-Term Care Insurance: Depending on the policy details, long-term care insurance may be used to pay for memory care services. It’s best to sign up for a policy early, as coverage will likely be denied if one already has long-term care needs. More information about the intricacies of long-term care insurance can be found at longtermcare.acl.gov.
  • Reverse Mortgages: Reverse mortgages allow some homeowners to take out a loan as an advance from the eventual sale of their primary residence. This can be a good way to fund memory care in the short-term, but the loans will need to be paid back after the sale of the home. The most commonly used type of reverse mortgages for seniors is the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage, which is the only reverse mortgage insured by the federal government.
  • Veterans Benefits: The Department of Veterans Affairs offers several programs that veterans and their spouses may use to cover health care needs such as memory care. More information about these programs can be found on the VA website.
  • Life Insurance: Some life insurance policies allow policyholders to cash out their policy before a qualifying death. There may be some downsides to accessing a life insurance benefit early, so be sure to read more about the process.

II. Memory Care Laws and Regulations in Alaska

Memory Care Regulation

The Assisted Living Program office at the Department of Health and Social Services, Division of Health Care Services inspects and licenses assisted living homes according to state regulations and statutes. There are limited regulations specifically for assisted living homes that provide memory care.

Facilities must provide a list of services offered as part of the licensing process. Licenses are issued to assisted living homes that primarily provide care to residents who are elderly, have a physical disability or suffer from dementia but haven’t been diagnosed with a chronic mental illness. The ALP office also performs annual inspections of licensed facilities and maintains a list of licensed facilities.

Facility Scope of Care

Assisted living facilities in Alaska must provide a homelike environment that helps elderly residents age in place. These facilities may provide:

  • Assistance with activities of daily living
  • Limited health-related services
  • Monitoring
  • Transportation
  • Recreational and social activities

Assisted living homes may also provide nursing services and medication administration for a limited time in some situations. Only licensed nurses may provide nursing services, but a licensed nurse may delegate certain nursing tasks to unlicensed staff members, if the Board of Nursing has specified in regulations that a task may be delegated.

Admission Requirements

Alaska doesn’t have any mandated state admission requirements, but residents must sign a residential service contract before moving into an assisted living facility. This contract must include the facility’s rates, detailed descriptions of the accommodations and services the facility provides, a disclosure of the resident’s rights and contract termination policies and procedures. Prospective residents won’t be admitted to assisted living facilities if they require long-term, 24-hour skilled nursing care. To promote aging in place, existing residents who become terminal may remain in the community if a physician feels their needs are being met.

Residents Who May Be AdmittedOlder adults and people with:

  • Dementia
  • Physical disabilities
Residents Who May NOT Be AdmittedThose who:

  • Have been diagnosed as chronically mentally ill
  • Have a mental or developmental disability that requires primary care at the facility
  • Require skilled nursing for more than 45 days

Care Plan Requirements

Assisted living facilities in Alaska must develop an assisted living plan within 30 days of a new resident’s admission, which must be approved by the resident or their representative. The resident or their representative must be allowed to participate in the creation and implementation of the plan and in all decisions involving care. Assisted living care plans must describe the resident’s medical condition and general health, physical disabilities, impairments and ability or inability to perform ADLs. It must also indicate how the facility will meet the resident’s personal assistance, ADL and health-related needs. A registered or advanced practice registered nurse must review the part of the plan dealing with how health-related needs will be met.

Medication Management Requirements

Alaska allows assisted living residents to self-administer medications, unless the individual’s care plan specifically states otherwise. If a resident self-administers, staff members may supervise, which includes providing reminders to take medication, opening medication containers, reading labels to residents, observing residents taking medications, confirming dosages against labels, providing reassurances concerning prescribed dosages and guiding the hand of a resident self-administering medication at the resident’s request. Any staff member may assist residents with self-administration, but only licensed nurses may directly administer medications or delegate direct administration to staff members who have undergone training programs approved by the Board of Nursing and taught by an RN or LPN.

Facility Requirements

Apartment-style units aren’t required in Alaska. Units may be single-occupancy with at least 80 square feet of living space, or double-occupancy with at least 140 square feet. Double-occupancy rooms must provide residents with a reasonable amount of privacy. Assisted living facilities must also:

  • Provide a minimum of one toilet, sink and bathtub or shower for every six residents
  • Offer three balanced meals and at least one snack daily at comparable times
  • Satisfy applicable standards for sanitation and environmental protection
  • Meet applicable life and fire safety requirements
  • Have a written procedure regarding the use of physical restraints

Facilities licensed to provide care for residents with Alzheimer’s, dementia or cognitive impairment and a history of wandering must also install 15-second delayed exit doors with alarms, a wander alarm system or another approved method to alert staff when someone exits the facility. The municipal fire marshal must approve delayed exit doors.

Staffing Requirements

Assisted living facilities in Alaska must have an administrator responsible for daily operations and facility oversight. There isn’t a minimum ratio required for care providers, but the facility must employ the appropriate type and number of staff members to effectively meet all the residents’ care plans and individual needs. Staff must include at least one care provider with first aid training and cardiopulmonary resuscitation certification. There aren’t any additional provisions for dementia care staff and training. Each care provider must complete 12 hours of continuing education annually. All potential employees must pass criminal background and centralized registry checks and be free from active pulmonary tuberculosis.

Medicaid Policy

Medicaid doesn’t cover memory care directly, but residents can apply for the Alaskans Living Independently Waiver. This waiver covers the cost of residential supported living services in assisted living homes, but it does not pay a resident’s room and board.

Reporting Abuse

Anyone concerned about vulnerable adults who may be a victim of abuse, neglect, self-neglect, abandonment or exploitation should report incidents to Adult Protective Services at 550 West 8th Avenue in Anchorage, file a report online, fax a completed report to 907-269-3648 or call 1-800-478-9996. Assisted living facilities not following regulations may be reported to the Alaska Long-Term Care Ombudsman by filing an online complaint or calling 907-334-4480 or 1-800-730-6393. Local law enforcement should be called in emergency situations before filing a complaint.

III. Free Memory Care and Alzheimer's Resources in Alaska

ResourceContactDescription
Alzheimer’s Resource of Alaska907-561-3313 or 1-800-478-1080Alzheimer’s Resource of Alaska provides free and low-cost programs and services to individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias and their caregivers. The available resources include memory screenings, consultations, care coordination, support groups and educational programs.
Alaska Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association406-252-3053 or 1-800-272-3900The Alzheimer’s Association’s Alaska chapter offers a free 24/7 helpline, an online community and educational webinars to provide support and information to individuals with Alzheimer’s and their families and caregivers.
Care Coordination Resource of Alaska907-561-3313Care Coordination Resource of Alaska offers information and awareness events about Alzheimer’s and related dementia to the community. Free confidential memory screenings, consultations, referrals, education, support groups and art programs are available to memory impaired persons and their families.
Fairbanks Resource Agency907-456-8901The Fairbanks Resource Agency provides resources and community-based services for individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias and seniors experiencing age-related disabilities.
Anchorage Senior Activity Center Memory Cafe907-561-3313The Anchorage Senior Activity Center offers free memory cafe events the second Thursday of each month to provide persons suffering from dementia and their loved ones with a place to engage and socialize with others sharing the same experiences.
Art Links907-561-3313 or 907-746-3470Sponsored by individual offices of Alzheimer’s Resource of Alaska, Art Links is a free weekly creative painting class that offers people living with Alzheimer’s and dementia the opportunity to share emotions and memories in an artistic environment. Classes are held on Fridays at the Anchorage office and the Mat-Su office in Palmer.
Mind Matters Early Alzheimer’s Education and Support907-864-3408 or 907-746-3470Sponsored by individual offices of Alzheimer’s Resource of Alaska, Mind Matters is an educational and support program for individuals recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or a related dementia. Participants learn about dementia and the services and resources available to them, while connecting with others affected by memory loss during classes held at the Anchorage office and the Mat-Su office in Palmer.