Guide to Senior Living in Alaska
As the nation’s largest and most northerly state, Alaska is known for its stunning mountains, abundant wildlife and sprawling, unspoiled wilderness. About 291,538 of the state’s 731,545 residents live in the Anchorage metro area with the rest of the population spread out among smaller cities, towns and settlements throughout the state. There are 27 hospitals in Alaska, including cancer care centers, VA facilities and regional hospitals, that provide a full range of acute and emergency services.
Nearly 12% of Alaska’s residents are aged 65 or older, and the senior population is growing at a rate of 6% per year, which is higher than any other state. Between 2018 and 2025, the number of seniors in Alaska is expected to jump by 46.7%. With an average monthly cost of $6,000, assisted living costs in Alaska are significantly higher than the national average although there are a number of programs available to help seniors cover their care costs. In this guide, you’ll find information on the different types of care available to Alaska seniors, financial resources and links to programs that help seniors navigate their long-term care options.
Covid-19 Rules and Restrictions for Alaska Senior Living Facilities
The following rules and guidelines were obtained from the Alaska Department of Health and Human Services website, as well as other state-level government sites. Among others, these rules apply to most non-medical congregate and long-term care settings including adult care homes, assisted living, senior living centers and more.
This data has been most recently updated on 7/16/20, but keep in mind that COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving crisis, so all of the below information can change at any time. For additional questions and up-to-date information, you can contact your loved one’s senior living facility or your local Area Agency on Aging.
Visiting Loved Ones
|Can I visit my relative in person if he/she wants emotional support from me?||Yes, if facility is in phase II or higher|
|Can I visit my relative in person for end-of-life compassion care?||Yes|
|Will my loved one be required to self-quarantine after I visit him or her?||No|
|Do I need to wear PPE and/or a cloth mask if I do visit my relative in person?||Yes|
|Are hairdressers and other non-medical contractors still allowed in senior living facilities?||Yes, if facility is in phase II or higher|
|Does the state recommend or require that senior living facilities assist families with setting up virtual visit alternatives?||Yes|
|Are visitors being screened for elevated temperatures?||Yes|
|Are visitors being asked questions about health, travel, and potential virus contact?||Yes|
Outings and Group Activities
|Are residents allowed to leave the facility for non-medical reasons?||Yes, but it may be strongly discouraged|
|Are residents of senior living facilities who leave and return required to self-quarantine?||NA|
|Are senior living facilities required to cancel all group outings?||Yes, unless facility is in phase II or higher|
|Are residents still eating together in the dining hall?||Yes, with social distancing|
|Are facilities still allowed to host group activities within the community?||Yes, with social distancing|
Safety Measures for Staff & Contractors
|Are staff members and contractors being screened for elevated temperatures?||Yes|
|Are staff members and contractors being tested for Coronavirus?||Yes|
|Are staff members and contractors being asked questions about health, travel, and potential virus contact?||Yes|
Safety Measures for Residents
|Are staff members required to regularly screen residents for coronavirus symptoms?||Yes|
|Are residents relied on to screen themselves and self-report potential coronavirus symptoms?||No|
|Are staff members required to take residents’ temperatures?||Yes|
|Are residents being tested for coronavirus?||Yes|
Paying for Senior Living in Alaska
Seniors in Alaska who need care often prefer assisted living because it includes room and board as well as help with activities of daily living, recreational programming and around-the-clock staffing. Seniors with complex medical needs might require nursing home services, while those who prefer to remain at home may want to hire a homemaker or home health aide. Here’s what seniors can expect to pay each month for each type of care:
Home Health Care
Adult Day Care
Nursing Home Care
The Cost of Assisted Living in Alaska
According to Genworth Financial’s 2019 Cost of Care Survey, the average cost of assisted care is $6,000 per month. This is significantly higher than the national average, which is $4,051 per month.
The Cost of In-Home Care in Alaska
In-home care is the best option for someone who prefers the comfort and privacy of their own home yet needs some assistance with personal care and chores. The cost for this type of help in Alaska is $5,621 a month, about $1,300 more than the national average of $4,290.
The Cost of Nursing Home Care in Alaska
Due to its remote location and the limited availability of nursing homes in Alaska, seniors looking for this level of personal care can expect to pay an astounding $30,219 a month. This rate is $22,706 higher than the national average of $7,513. Seniors will save thousands of dollars on nursing home care in other U.S. states.
Financial Assistance for Senior Living in Alaska
Seniors enrolled in Medicaid who need the level of care normally provided in a nursing home may be eligible for enrollment in Alaskans Living Independently, a home and community-based Medicaid waiver.
The ALI program covers a variety of services and supports designed to help seniors remain in a senior living setting. Services include assistance with activities of daily living, adult day health services and comprehensive care coordination. Seniors may also be provided with specialized medical equipment, such as mobility devices, and private-duty nursing services are available.
To qualify for ALI, seniors must meet the income and asset limits for enrollment in Medicaid.
Contact: For more information on the Alaskans Living Independently Medicaid Waiver, contact the Division of Senior and Disabilities Services at (800) 478-9996 or Aging and Disability Resource Center at (877) 625-2372.
The Alaska Senior Benefits Program is a state-funded cash benefit program for low- to moderate-income seniors aged 65 and older.
The program provides qualifying seniors with a monthly cash benefit that is tied to their income and the Alaska Federal Poverty Guidelines. Benefit limits are subject to change each year.
To qualify for Senior Benefits, applicants must meet the following criteria:
- Be a full-time Alaska resident
- Have U.S. citizenship or qualified alien status
- Have a valid Social Security number
- Earn no more than $2,327 per person, per month, or
- Earn no more than $3,143 per married couple, per month
Seniors who earn $997 or less each month qualify for a $250 monthly cash benefit through Senior Benefits, while those who earn between $998 and $1,330 per month qualify for a $175 monthly payment. Seniors earning the maximum allowable income of $2,327 per person, per month may receive a $76 monthly payment.
Contact: For more information, contact the local Division of Public Assistance office, or call 2-1-1 statewide.
Veterans and survivors who qualify for the regular VA pension and who have a chronic illness or disability that is not service-related may be eligible for additional pension funding from the VA.
Two pension top-up programs, Aid and Attendance and Housebound, provide eligible seniors with an enhanced VA pension benefit that can be used towards the cost of senior living.
To qualify for the Aid and Attendance benefit, applicants must meet at least one of the following requirements:
- Need help from another person to perform one or more activities of daily living, such as adjusting a prosthetic device, toileting, dressing or moving around
- Be bedridden except when receiving treatment for a chronic illness or disability
- Be a resident of a nursing facility
- Have a severe visual impairment resulting in eyesight of 5/200 or worse even when wearing corrective lenses
- Have a concentric contraction that limits the visual field to 5 degrees or less
To qualify for the Housebound allowance, applicants must have one disability that is rated at 100% by the VA and which leaves the applicant confined to their home most of the time. Applicants may also have at least one disability rated by the VA at 100% and at least one additional disability rated at 60% or greater.
Senior Living Laws and Regulations in Alaska
Note: All these rules typically apply to non-clinical senior living facilities, such as independent living, assisted living, and memory care facilities. Nursing homes and other senior living facilities with a clinical setting may have additional or slightly different requirements and regulations.
The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services oversees the licensing and inspection of senior living homes through the Division of Health Care Services Certification and Licensing. Senior living homes must comply with state laws and regulations regarding staffing, safeguards against resident abuse, management, care services and accommodations. Below you’ll find a brief overview of some of these regulations:
Every licensed senior living facility in Alaska must provide residents with the following:
- A room furnished in accordance with community standards using furniture provided by either the facility or the resident
- Adequate storage space for clothing and personal items
- Linens, soap and bathing facilities
- A device that residents can use to call for assistance from their room
- Single-occupancy bedrooms must be at least 80 square feet, and double-occupancy rooms must measure no less than 140 square feet
- If smoking is allowed, a designated smoking area that is not used as a common area must be provided
No more than two residents can be placed in each bedroom, and the entire property must be used only as a senior living residence or other type of licensed facility.
At least three nutritionally balanced meals plus snacks must be provided daily, and meals should be prepared in a way that respects health, cultural, religious or ethnic preferences.
Senior living homes may supervise the self-administration of prescription medications by residents, and provide limited medication management services. This includes storing all prescription and nonprescription medications in a secure location, providing medication reminders, opening pill containers and verifying the dosage listed on the label.
Staff must maintain a written record of any medications dispensed to residents, and staff can administer medications with the written consent of a resident or their legal representative. Medications can only be administered when prescribed by a physician and administered under the direct or indirect supervision of a licensed health care provider, such as a registered nurse.
Health-Related Service Regulations
Licensed senior living homes may provide limited health-related services, including intermittent nursing services to residents who do not require 24-hour nursing care. Residents who are expected to need 24-hour skilled nursing care for up to 45 days due to terminal illness or a temporary medical condition may be allowed to remain in a senior living facility for the duration if appropriate care is available.
Nursing services can only be performed by a licensed nurse or a person designated by a licensed nurse. Staff can help residents with activities of daily living, such as eating, getting dressed and bathing.
Everyone who works in a senior living home must complete a criminal record check and be trained in emergency procedures and infection control practices. At least one staff member needs to be on-site at all times, and that person must have a current CPR and first aid certification that’s renewed at least once every 2 years.
All senior living homes need to have at least one designated administrator who manages day-to-day operations, oversees compliance with state regulations and acts as a liaison between staff, residents, family members and the licensing agency.
Alaska Senior Living Free Resources
The Alaska Commission on Aging is a state agency that coordinates government services for seniors, advocates for the elderly and promotes interagency cooperation to enhance the independence and well-being of older adults. The commission also prepares educational materials for seniors and their caregivers on fall prevention, Alzheimer’s and dementia care and Medicaid for seniors.
Contact: To contact the Alaska Commission on Aging, call (907) 465-4793. To report concerns related to long-term care, including senior living facilities, contact the Office of the Long Term Care Ombudsman at (800) 730-6393.
Aging and Disability Resource Centers in Alaska
Seniors in Alaska who need help navigating their long-term care options, assistance with Medicaid enrollment or information on local and state resources can contact their local Aging and Disability Resource Center.
While other states have regional Area Agencies on Aging, Alaska is unique in that the Governor has designated the Department of Health and Social Services as the State Agency on Aging.
ADRCs are federally funded, state-administered organizations. These statewide, regional organizations provide free, unbiased information to older adults, family members and caregivers, and ADRC specialists can refer seniors to community services for seniors, including nutrition programs, in-home care, transportation and financial aid programs.
To connect with the nearest ADRC, call (855) 565-2017.
Veterans Affairs Offices in Alaska
Veterans, dependents and survivors can contact the Alaska Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, Office of Veterans Affairs to learn about local, state and federal programs, benefits and services available to vets and their families.
Veterans Affairs officers can help vets obtain their service records, join local support groups and apply for benefits that can be used towards the cost of senior living, such as Aid and Attendance and Housebound.
To speak with a state Veterans Affairs officer, call (907) 334-0874 or (888) 248-3683.
|VA OFFICE||ADDRESS||PHONE NUMBER|
|Anchorage Vet Center||4400 Business Park Boulevard Suite B-34|
Anchorage, AK 99503
|Fairbanks Vet Center||540 4th Avenue Suite 100|
Fairbanks, AK 99701
|Kenai Vet Center Outstation||43299 Kalifonsky Beach Road Suite 4|
Soldotna, AK 99669
|Wasilla Vet Center||851 East West Point Drive Suite 102|
Wasilla, AK 99654
Social Security Offices in Alaska
The Social Security Administration maintains offices in Anchorage, Juneau and Fairbanks. Low-income seniors who own few countable assets may qualify for Supplemental Security Income, and these benefits can be used towards residential care costs. To learn about SSI, seniors can visit their local Social Security office or call (800) 772-1213.
|SOCIAL SECURITY OFFICE||ADDRESS||PHONE NUMBER|
|Anchorage||222 W 8th Ave Room A11|
Anchorage, Alaska 99513
|Fairbanks||101 12th Avenue Rm 138|
Fairbanks, Alaska 99701
|Juneau||709 W 9th St. Room 231 Po Box 21327|
Juneau, Alaska 99802
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does assisted living cost in Alaska?
The statewide average cost of assisted living care in Alaska is $6,000, which is nearly $2,000 more than the national average. Monthly costs in Fairbanks are $938 higher than the average cost in Anchorage, and actual costs vary depending on the location, accommodation, amenities and services.
Are there financial assistance programs for assisted living in Alaska?
Yes. Seniors who need financial assistance may qualify for the Alaska Senior Benefits Program, a state-funded program that provides monthly cash benefits to eligible seniors aged 65 and older. Seniors may also be able to access SSI benefits or enroll in a Medicaid Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) waiver that covers some assisted living and long-term care costs.
Who should consider assisted living?
Seniors who need help with everyday tasks, such as bathing and grooming, medication administration and meal preparation, but don’t require 24/7 skilled nursing might want to consider joining an assisted living community. Assisted living can also be a good option for older adults who have mild to moderate memory loss or require a barrier-free environment that accommodates mobility devices, such as wheelchairs, mobility scooters and walkers.
What are “Activities of Daily Living”?
Activities of daily living, or ADLs, are routine tasks that people need to perform every day to maintain basic hygiene and health. ADLs include bathing, using the toilet, getting dressed, shaving, eating and moving around one’s home. As people age, they may develop physical and cognitive issues that limit their ability to perform ADLs independently.
What types of amenities are commonly in Assisted Living Communities?
In Alaska, all licensed assisted living communities must provide residents with a semiprivate or private room that is at least 80 square feet and includes in-suite storage and a private bathroom. Because assisted living facilities are required to serve three meals daily plus snacks, most facilities have communal dining rooms or restaurant-style dining areas. Other common amenities include a living room or recreation room equipped with a television, one or more outdoor areas that may have gardens or garden paths and nondenominational worship spaces. Some assisted living facilities have guest suites that residents can reserve for visiting friends and family members, and larger facilities often have on-site barber shops and beauty salons.
The Top Cities for Senior Living in Alaska
Learn more about the cost of senior living in the top Alaska cities. Additionally, find reviews and information about assisted living facilities and other senior living communities across the state.