Memory Care in Alaska | MemoryCare.com

Memory Care in Alaska

In 2020, there were 8,500 seniors in Alaska living with Alzheimer's. Data from the Alzheimer's Association suggests that this number will increase by 29.4% to 11,000 by 2025. Alzheimer's is the ninth leading cause of death in Alaska, according to information from the CDC. Alaska has experienced a 172.3% increase in Alzheimer's related deaths since 2000, with 128 seniors dying from conditions related to the disease in 2019. 

Memory care facilities provide those living with Alzheimer’s and dementia with care that is tailored to their unique needs. Memory care can take place in its own facility, or as part of a designated wing of another residential care community. Staff members of memory care units or facilities undergo specialized training in caring 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 will cover the cost of memory care in Alaska, various financial assistance options for paying for memory care, free memory care resources in the state and a directory of memory care facilities 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.

We added 25% to the cost of assisted living reported by the 2021 Genworth Cost of Care Survey to calculate the average costs of memory care. 

The average cost of memory care in Alaska is high in comparison to most other states in the U.S. At $8,538 it is almost $3,000 more than the national average of $5,625. Fees are lower in the closest states of Hawaii ($6,719), Washington ($7,500) and Montana ($5,563).

Cost information is only available for two cities in Alaska. The more affordable option is Anchorage at $8,456 per month, while seniors in Fairbanks pay an average of $9,063 each month. In Seattle, WA, they charge a similar fee to those in Alaska at $8,438 per month.  

Alaska Medicaid Programs for Memory Care

In Alaska, Medicaid does not cover memory care in an assisted living community or memory care facility. Seniors who require a nursing home level of care but would prefer to remain in a less restrictive environment may be eligible for the Alaskans Living Independently Waiver, which may cover some of the care costs. 

  • Who is eligible: Seniors must be 65 years or older and reside in Alaska. In addition, they must meet certain income requirements and be U.S. citizens or legal residents.
  • How to apply: Seniors can contact the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services to begin the application process.

Alaskans Living Independently Waiver

This waiver is part of Alaska's Home and Community-Based Medicaid waiver programs initiative. It offers an alternative to nursing home care and enables seniors to remain in their own homes or residential community. The waiver does not cover room and board. It does cover limited private skilled nursing services, nonmedical transport, personal care and specialized medical equipment.

  • Who is eligible: Anyone over age 21 can qualify for the waiver if they require nursing home level care. Certain income requirements are in place.
  • How to apply: Seniors can apply for the waiver by contacting the Aging and Disability Resource Center

Medicaid Eligibility for Seniors in Alaska

Seniors must meet specific income requirements in order to qualify for Medicaid coverage in Alaska. Single applicants are limited to an annual income of $30,276, while married spouses can receive an annual income of $60,552 or $30,276 per spouse. Assets may not exceed $2,000 for individuals and $3,000 for dual applicants.

2022 Medicaid Income Limits for Seniors in Alaska

family sizeannual income limitsasset limits
Single Person$30,276$2,000
Two-Person Household (Single Applicant)$30,276 for applicant$2,000 for applicant $137,400 for non-applicant
Two-Person Household (Dual Applicants)$60,552$3,000

Additional documents that should be included in the applicant to prove qualification for Medicaid include:

  • Social Security Number
  • Birth certificate
  • Proof of income
  • Proof of address in Alaska
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship or legal resident status
  • Copies of burial arrangements
  • Power of attorney
  • Bank statements for the past 60 months
  • Insurance policies
  • Comprehensive list of all assets
  • Title deeds to any property owned

How to Get Help Applying for Medicaid in Alaska

Seniors and their family members can contact the following departments or organizations for assistance in applying for Medicaid in Alaska.

resourcecontactdescription
Healthcare.gov800-318-2596Healthcare.gov is the official website for online benefit applications in Alaska. Seniors can follow the step-by-step application guide online or phone the helpline for assistance in completing the application process.
Alaska Commission on Aging907-465-4793The Alaska Commission on Aging has offices across the state where seniors can get in-person assistance in applying for Medicaid or find out about their application status.
Benefits.gov800-770-5650This is an official government website where seniors and their families can find out about Medicaid eligibility requirements and learn about Medicaid government coverage.

Can You Use Medicare to Pay for Memory Care in Alaska?

Unfortunately, Medicare does not generally cover the cost of Memory Care. Most Memory Care Facilities are considered to be "social settings," so Medicare does not cover the cost incurred in these facilities. The only exception to that is if you are receiving memory care services in a Nursing Home. While this situation is much less common, Medicare would sometimes cover the cost, depending on a number of circumstances.

That being said, Medicare does still cover qualified doctor visits, medications, etc., as it would if you were still at home, but it will not cover the cost of care received at the Memory Care Facility.

More Ways to Pay for Memory Care in Alaska

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.
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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 Admitted

Older adults and people with:

  • Dementia
  • Physical disabilities

Residents Who May NOT Be Admitted

Those 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.

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Free and Low-Cost Resources for Seniors in Alaska

There are several resources available to seniors and their family members in Alaska. These resources provide information, support and links to services across the state.

resourcecontactdescription
Memory CafeVarious locationsThere are a few memory cafes located in Alaska. These are events that are hosted regularly for seniors with dementia and their caregivers. The events are Alzheimer's friendly and designed to provide social interaction for seniors with memory loss and support for their caregivers. Activities such as puzzles, arts and crafts or reading are provided.
Art Links907-561-3313Art Links is a free weekly creative class for seniors with dementia. The class encourages seniors to express themselves through painting and other art mediums.
Alzheimer's Association Alaska Chapter800-272-3900The Alzheimer's Association Alaska Chapter provides information and support to seniors and their family members. It hosts annual and monthly fundraising events to raise funds for Alzheimer's research and awareness of memory loss. Additionally, it runs support groups and educational training sessions.
Care Coordination Resource of Alaska907-561-3313The Care Coordination Resource of Alaska hosts regular Alzheimer's awareness events in communities across the state. It offers free and confidential memory screening services. The organization provides information services and referrals to long-term care communities and other services.
Fairbanks Resource Agency907-456-8901The Fairbanks Resource Agency provides free services for seniors with Alzheimer's or dementia and support services for their caregivers. Services offered include case management, chore services and respite care.

Alaska COVID-19 Rules for Memory Care Facilities

Note: The following information was compiled and most recently updated on 2/2/2022. Since COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving crisis, be sure to contact your Memory Care Facility or local Area Agency on Aging for the most up-to-date information.

questionanswer
Am I allowed to visit my loved one in person?Yes (Conditions Apply)
Is my loved one required to quarantine after I visit him or her?No
Am I required to wear a mask if I visit my loved one in person?Yes
Are visitors screened for elevated temperatures?Yes
Are residents allowed to leave the facility at-will?Yes
Are residents of senior living facilities who leave required to quarantine when they get back?Not Available*
Are staff members and contractors checked for elevated temperatures?Yes
Are staff members and contractors tested for COVID-19?Yes
Do staff members have to regularly screen residents for COVID-19 symptoms?Yes
Do staff members have to regularly check residents for elevated temperatures?Yes
Do staff members have to regularly test residents for COVID-19?Yes

*Note: This information was not available for this state, contact your local area agency on aging or senior living facility for more information.

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