Page Reviewed / Updated - February 11, 2021
This webpage is intended to aid Alaskans with understanding the costs associated with assisted living, adult day care, and home care throughout the state of Alaska. It navigates through financial assistance and alternative payment options for aging in one’s home, the home of a relative, or some form of residential care.
While the state of Alaska offers several programs to assist the elderly, there are also national assistance programs available. In order to determine what nationwide assistance is available, and which program is best suited to one’s needs, please use our Eldercare Financial Assistance Locator as the programs listed below are specific to Alaska.
Cost of Care Calculator
Based on Genworth’s 2019 Cost of Care Survey, in 2020, the statewide average cost of assisted living in Alaska ranges from $6,000 - $6,938/month, but the average monthly cost throughout the state is $6,000. That being said, the national monthly average for assisted living is $4,051/month. This means the average monthly cost of assisted living in Alaska is approximately 55% higher than in the rest of the states. In Alaska, the costliest assisted living is in the area of Fairbanks, which runs an average of $6,938/month. Geographic isolation can play a major role in the price fluctuations. Memory care, which is also referred to as Alzheimer’s care, is also available and typically costs 20-30% more than traditional assisted living. The estimated average cost of memory care is an additional $1,500 per month.
In 2020, the statewide average for home care costs for Alaskans, according to the 2019 Cost of Care Survey by Genworth, is $29.95/hour. In contrast to assisted living, the least costly home care is in Fairbanks, with the average cost at $26/hour. Even with this lower cost, it is still on average $1-$2.75/hour costlier than its neighboring states along the Pacific.
Home health care, which provides minimal medical assistance, is also available at nearly the same average hourly rate as home care at $30/hour. Like home care, the average cost per hour in Fairbanks is much more affordable at $26/hour. In Anchorage, the average hourly cost is consistent with the statewide average at $30/hour.
Per Genworth’s 2019 Cost of Care Survey, in 2020, the range of adult day care costs throughout Alaska goes from $127/day to $200/day, with the statewide average cost at $154/day. In Anchorage, the average cost is lower than the statewide average, with the average daily cost at $127. However, the average cost in Fairbanks is much higher than the statewide average, with the average cost at $200/day. As problematic as the high cost of adult day care throughout the state, is the low availability in the rural areas of the state.
In Alaska, Medicaid, which is called DenaliCare, will cover the cost of nursing home care, as well as pay for personal care in the home.
The Personal Care Services Program (PCS), formerly called the Personal Care Assistance Program, is part of the state Medicaid plan and is there to provide qualified applicants personal care services, such as assistance with bathing, toiletry, monitoring of medications, and meal preparation. With this program, there is an option for consumer-direction, also called self-direction, as participants can hire and manage the caregiver of their choosing (with some exceptions) to provide services.
Medicaid also offers what are called Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) Waivers, which provide assistance to seniors who reside outside of a nursing home. It’s important to note that while the state Medicaid program is an entitlement program, Medicaid Waivers are not. This means that one does not automatically receive services via a Medicaid Waiver simply because they meet eligibility requirements. This is because there is an enrollment cap for Medicaid Waivers, which may result in wait lists.
Alaska currently offers two Medicaid Waiver programs that are relevant to elderly residents: Alaskans Living Independently and Adults with Physical & Developmental Disabilities Waiver.
1) The Alaskans Living Independently (ALI) program, which includes the former Older Alaskans Program, helps seniors to receive care in their own homes and in the community, including assisted living facilities, instead of at nursing facilities. This program also covers the cost of home modifications, specialized medical equipment, adult day care, and more.
2) The Adults with Physical & Developmental Disabilities Waiver (APDD) is for individuals who are a minimum of 21 years old and are physically impaired due to an intellectual or developmental disability, or autism. A variety of services, including adult day care, home modifications, and chore services, are available via this waiver to allow eligible individuals to live at home or in assisted living, rather than a nursing home.
The Medicaid eligibility rules in Alaska have both income and asset restrictions. While eligibility may vary slightly based on the program, in general, single applicants, as of 2020, cannot exceed $2,349 in monthly income for long-term care. If an applicant has a non-applicant spouse, the applicant spouse may be able to transfer up to $3,216 / month in income to their spouse as a spousal allowance. Asset restrictions allow the applicant to have no more than $2,000 in liquid assets, which are assets that are easily converted to cash. However, joint assets and some high value assets, such as the home (up to an equity interest of $595,000) in which the applicant or their spouse resides, and a single car, may be exempt. Non-applicant spouses are allowed to keep up to $128,640 of the couple’s joint assets as a resource allowance. Assistance is available to help persons qualify for Medicaid. Learn more.
As all forms of assisted care are more expensive in Alaska than in the rest of much of the United States, the state has therefore provided six non-Medicaid financial programs to help the residents of Alaska who do not qualify for State Medicaid.
1.) The Alaska Senior Benefits Program provides monthly cash assistance to lower income, elderly residents, with no restrictions on how to use the resources. There is an income limit for individuals and married couples, applicants must be a minimum of 65 years of age, and applicants must not live in a nursing home or state subsidized assisted living. Aside from that, there are no other restrictions.
2.) The Senior Access Program (SAP) provides financial assistance to help older Alaskan residents make home modifications to reduce the challenges associated with aging at home. Home modifications might include the installation of a wheelchair ramp, grab bars, or a stair lift. There are income and residential limits to this program, as well as the requirement that it must be a current need, not an anticipatory one.
3.) The Adult Day Care Services (ADS) Program is a network of adult day care centers that provide services during daytime hours for persons with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias, as well as frail, elderly residents, so they can avoid going to a costlier skilled nursing facility. Applicants must demonstrate a functional need for supervision, and residency requirements apply. Make note, there may be a waiting list for this program.
4.) The Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias (ADRD) Mini-Grants exist to help those with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia increase their quality of independent living. Any Alaskan resident diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia, including Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases, may qualify. The mini-grants can be used for a variety of purposes, such as home modifications, fall alert systems, assistive technology, and medical equipment.
5.) Alaska Pioneer Homes provides subsidized assisted living for state residents who are at least 60 years of age. The residents must have lived in the state for at least one consecutive year, and have Medicare Parts A, B & D to qualify.
6.) The Senior In-Home (SIH) Services Program allows for individuals with limited physical or mental capabilities to remain living in their homes through the deliverance of non-medical assistance. This might include assistance with the activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, preparation of meals, and housework, as well as respite care. Supplemental services grants are also available via SIH. This program is restricted to low income residents who do not qualify for Medicaid in Alaska.
To locate other programs that can be of use to ease the financial burden of assisted care in Alaska, make sure to use our Financial Assistance Locator Tool. There are many other avenues for eldercare financing aside from state-led programs. Help may be waiting through federal and non-profit channels as well.
The geographic isolation of the state of Alaska, both from other states, as well as cities within the state, makes it extremely difficult to move around in search of more affordable care. Given this situation, home care for the elderly in Alaska is by far the most affordable type of care in the state, as it is least affected by the lack of human capital within the state
has. Either way, there is still good cause to reach out to multiple providers to find the most cost-effective plan. Click here for assistance.
For more information about the costs and resources available in Alaska cities, click on the links below.