Guide to Independent Living in Alaska
While adults aged 65 and older make up just 12.5% of the population in Alaska, compared to 16.5% nationally, The Last Frontier has a lot to offer seniors in retirement. Geographic isolation means the cost of living is relatively high, but this is offset by no state income, estate or inheritance taxes. In Anchorage, where most of the state’s population lives, seniors have access to high-performing geriatrics care at Providence Alaska Medical Center. For active seniors, Alaska offers some of the best fishing, hiking, biking and sightseeing experiences in the world.
Many older adults in Alaska choose independent living as a residence for its lifestyle and affordability. These communities are for older adults who can live on their own and want access to activities and services catered to seniors. Independent living is not for seniors who need their living facility to offer assistance with daily activities or medical care. This guide covers the cost of independent living in Alaska and provides links to useful resources.
How Much Does Independent Living Cost in Alaska?
Note: There currently isn’t authoritative data on the average cost of Independent Living Facilities nationwide, so instead, we use the cost of Assisted Living to estimate it. Since the cost of Independent Living is typically 30-40% lower than the cost of Assisted Living, the numbers below were calculated by subtracting 35% from the cost of Assisted Living as reported in the 2021 Genworth Cost of Care Survey.
At $4,400 per month, Alaska is the most expensive state in the union for independent living, but only by a small margin. It’s much higher, however, than the national average of $2,925 per month. The closest state to Alaska by distance is Washington, where the median price for independent living is $3,900 per month. Idaho is about the same distance but has much more affordable costs at an average monthly rate of $2,495. Hawaii has an average rate of $3,494 per month for independent living.
The United States
The Cost of Independent Living in Alaska’s Top Cities
Cost information is only available for two cities in Alaska, and doesn’t include the state capital of Juneau. In the state’s largest city, Anchorage, the average monthly rate for independent living is $4,397. The median price in Fairbanks ($4,713) is $316 more per month than in Anchorage. The nearest U.S. city to these is Seattle in Washington state, which has a similar cost of $4,388.
The Cost of Independent Living vs. Other Types of Care
Independent living is an affordable option for seniors in Alaska compared to other types of care. Adult day health care costs just $1,562, but it does not cover room and board. Since assisted living facilities offer help with activities of daily living and other services, they cost quite a bit more than independent living. The monthly average is $6,830. Seniors who need help with daily life but don’t want to move away from their homes can hire homemaker services or home health aides, which both have an average price of $5,720 per month. Nursing homes in Alaska are very expensive compared to all other types of senior care. The state average for a semiprivate room is $31,512 per month.
Adult Day Health Care
Home Health Aide
Nursing Home (semiprivate room)
Does Medicare or Medicaid Cover Independent Living in Alaska?
The short answer is no, Medicaid and Medicare do not cover the cost of living in an independent living community. That being said, those who need help with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), may be able to take advantage of financial assistance programs in Alaska to partially or fully cover the cost of care in Assisted Living. For more information about financial assistance for those who need help with ADLs, read our guide to Assisted Living in Alaska.
For more information about other ways to make Independent Living more affordable, such as retirement funds, the sale of a home, etc, read the section below.
How to Make Independent Living More Affordable in Alaska
Alaska has a homeownership rate of about 64%, meaning many seniors in the state can apply for a reverse mortgage to help pay for independent living. This type of mortgage converts the equity seniors have in a property into cash. Families who can’t or don’t want to get a reverse mortgage may want to opt for life insurance or long-term care insurance, both of which could help pay for part of the cost of independent living. Seniors with significant financial assets may choose an annuity to ensure they have access to funds for independent living in the future.
Free Independent Living Resources for Seniors in Alaska
Alaska seniors can contact the public and organizations listed below to get assistance with a variety of topics related to independent living. These resources may provide direct assistance or refer to an organization that provides tangible help.
|Elder Law Project||(888) 478-2572||The Alaska Legal Services Corporation is a non-profit organization that started the Elder Law Project to help Alaska residents aged 60 and older with legal issues that affect their wellness and quality of life. Topics include renter rights, public benefits, financial fraud, health care directives and other issues related to long-term care. The Elder Law Project has limited resources, so it may not be able to accept all cases.|
|Senior and Disability Services||Office Information||The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services provides a variety of Senior and Disability Services to older adults and their families, including general financial relief, rural long-term care options, Medicare information and personal care services. It also runs Adult Protective Services, which addresses reports of mistreatment that occur in independent living and other long-term care communities. The department also operates the Alaska Senior Benefits program, giving cash assistance to older adults in the state with moderate to low incomes. Senior and Disability Services has offices in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau.|
|AARP Alaska||(866) 227-7447||The Alaska chapter of the AARP offers low-cost membership and free resources for seniors. Older adults and families can participate in support groups when facing difficult challenges or join educational courses to learn about long-term care and other senior services in the state. During tax season, AARP hosts tax aide webinars and other types of assistance that can help families keep more of their earnings for independent living.|
|Senior Voice Alaska||(907) 276-1059||Since 1968, the Older Persons Action Group has advocated for the rights and interests of adults aged 50 and older. OPAG runs Senior Voice Alaska, a publication that provides a wealth of information for seniors in the state. It can help seniors and families with Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and state benefits. Membership is available for a low cost but is not necessary to access information.|
|United Way Alaska 2-1-1||2-1-1 or (800) 478-2221||Alaska 2-1-1 connects seniors and families with service providers in their area, such as in-home supports, congregate meals, durable medical equipment and other organizations that may improve lives in independent living. Call center hours are Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.|
COVID-19 Rules and Restrictions for Alaska Independent Living Communities
The following rules and guidelines were obtained from dhss.alaska.gov, as well as other state-level government sites. Among others, these rules apply to independent living communities and assisted living facilities.
This data has been most recently updated on 2/2/2022, 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 (Conditions Apply)|
|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 (Conditions Apply)|
|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|
|Are residents of senior living facilities who leave and return required to self-quarantine?||Not Available*|
|Are senior living facilities required to cancel all group outings?||No|
|Are residents still eating together in the dining hall?||Yes (Conditions Apply)|
|Are facilities still allowed to host group activities within the community?||Yes (Conditions Apply)|
*NOTE: This information was not available for this state, contact your local area agency on aging or senior living facility for more information.
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|