Table of Contents
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.
In 2018, the statewide average cost of assisted living in Alaska ranges from $870 - $8,320/month, but the average monthly cost throughout the state is $5,820. That being said, the national monthly average for assisted living is $3,698/month. This means the average monthly cost of assisted living in Alaska is approximately 45% higher than in the rest of the states. In Alaska, the most costly assisted living is in the area of Fairbanks, which can range from $4,331- $8,070/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. This type of care can cost an approximate $1,070 per month more than the cost of traditional assisted living.
The home care costs for Alaskans in 2018 are nearly uniform throughout the state, ranging from $22.75/hour to $29.75/hour, and averaging $26.75/hour, no matter what the location. This is still several dollars more per hour than the contiguous states along the Pacific. Home health care, which provides minimal medical assistance, is also available at a slightly higher hourly rate. Like home care, the cost per hour is fairly uniform across the state of Alaska, and on average is $27.75/hour.
The range of adult day care costs throughout Alaska goes from $87/day to $171/day, with the average cost at $103/day. In Anchorage, the range of cost is consistent with the statewide average range, with the average daily cost slightly higher at $112. However, the average cost does not vary at all in Fairbanks, which remains at $105/day, and just slightly higher than the average cost of $103/day for the rest of the state. As problematic as the higher cost of adult day care, 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, and meal preparation. With this program, there is an option for consumer-direction, also called self-direction, as participants can manage their own 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, personal emergency response systems, and more. This program allows for consumer direction, which means individuals are able to choose their own caregiver, including some family members.
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, in a foster 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 2018, cannot exceed $2,250 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 $3,090 / month in income to their spouse. 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 $572,000) in which the applicant or their spouse resides, and a single car, may be exempt. Non-applicant spouses are allowed to keep up to $123,600 of the couple’s joint assets. 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 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 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 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 65 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, preparation of meals, or chore services. 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 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.