Aging Southeast: Are we keeping up with our ‘Silver Tsunami?’

Southeast Alaska’s 65-and-over population is growing faster than other regions in the state. That has implications for housing, medical care and the economy. Aging Southeast, a CoastAlaska News series, talks with seniors, their families and service-providers about the issues they face.

Wildflower Court is a non-profit, 57-resident long-term-care facility in Juneau. (Photo by Ed Schoenfeld/CoastAlaska)
Mary Lou Spartz lives at Fireweed Place, a seniors’ apartment building in downtown Juneau. (Photo by Ed Schoenfeld/CoastAlaska News)
Sioux Douglas is president of Senior Citizens Support Services Inc., which hopes to build a new assisted living community in Juneau. (Photo by Lisa Phu/KTOO)
Southeast Senior Services Director Marianne Mills poses with a partial list of other organizations it works with. (Photo by Ed Schoenfeld/CoastAlaska News)
Irene Cashen sits in her room at the state-run Juneau Pioneers’ Home. One of her hobbies is beading. (Photo by Lisa Phu/KTOO)
Fireweed Place, a 67-unit seniors’ apartment building in downtown Juneau. (Photo by Ed Schoenfeld/CoastAlaska News)
Jacque Farnsworth and Jack Brandt lead a music activity at the Juneau Pioneers’ Home. Farnsworth says she’s been singing and playing piano there since 2003. (Photo by Lisa Phu/KTOO)
Ketchikan’s Fred John sings and plays a gospel song in his kitchen. He’s volunteered at Ketchikan’s prison and other locations. (Photo by Leila Kheiry/KRBD)
Elizabeth Tyner, 92, lives with her granddaughter, Melinda Cook, left, and great-granddaughter, Shawnee Cook, right. Tyner is among Southeast seniors aging at home. (Photo by Angela Denning/KFSK)
Horizontal, Ralph Strong, a 78-year-old Alaska Native veteran from Klukwan, poses outside the American Legion Hall in nearby Haines. Photo by Jillian Rogers, KHNS
Haines physical therapist Marnie Hartman works with 92-year-old patient Marge Ward. Hartman says most of her business comes from people 65 and older. (Photo by Emily Files/KHNS)
Ron Jackson at a Haines coffee shop. He said,
Musician Fred John looks through a photo album of old pictures from his time traveling and singing with a church group. (Photo by Leila Kheiry/KRBD)
Al and Sally Dwyer in traditional Norwegian clothing. (KFSK photo courtesy of the Dwyers)

Wildflower Court is a non-profit, 57-resident long-term-care facility in Juneau. (Photo by Ed Schoenfeld/CoastAlaska)

Mary Lou Spartz lives at Fireweed Place, a seniors’ apartment building in downtown Juneau. (Photo by Ed Schoenfeld/CoastAlaska News)

Sioux Douglas is president of Senior Citizens Support Services Inc., which hopes to build a new assisted living community in Juneau. (Photo by Lisa Phu/KTOO)

Southeast Senior Services Director Marianne Mills poses with a partial list of other organizations it works with. (Photo by Ed Schoenfeld/CoastAlaska News)

Irene Cashen sits in her room at the state-run Juneau Pioneers’ Home. One of her hobbies is beading. (Photo by Lisa Phu/KTOO)

Fireweed Place, a 67-unit seniors’ apartment building in downtown Juneau. (Photo by Ed Schoenfeld/CoastAlaska News)

Jacque Farnsworth and Jack Brandt lead a music activity at the Juneau Pioneers’ Home. Farnsworth says she’s been singing and playing piano there since 2003. (Photo by Lisa Phu/KTOO)

Ketchikan’s Fred John sings and plays a gospel song in his kitchen. He’s volunteered at Ketchikan’s prison and other locations. (Photo by Leila Kheiry/KRBD)

Elizabeth Tyner, 92, lives with her granddaughter, Melinda Cook, left, and great-granddaughter, Shawnee Cook, right. Tyner is among Southeast seniors aging at home. (Photo by Angela Denning/KFSK)

Ralph Strong, a 78-year-old Alaska Native veteran from Klukwan, poses outside the American Legion Hall in Haines. (Photo by Jillian Rogers/KHNS)

Haines physical therapist Marnie Hartman works with 92-year-old patient Marge Ward. Hartman says most of her business comes from people 65 and older. (Photo by Emily Files/KHNS)

Physical therapist Marnie Hartman works with 92-year-old patient Marge Ward. Hartman says most of her business comes from people 65 and older. (Photo by Emily Files/ KHNS)

Ron Jackson at a Haines coffee shop. He said, "Senior income is stable ... it survives the ups and downs of an economy." (Photo by Emily Files/KHNS)

Musician Fred John looks through a photo album of old pictures from his time traveling and singing with a church group. (Photo by Leila Kheiry/KRBD)

Al and Sally Dwyer in traditional Norwegian clothing. (KFSK photo courtesy of the Dwyers)

The Sitka Pioneer Home was the first such facility. Five others operate in Ketchikan, Juneau, Anchorage, Wasilla and Fairbanks. (Photo by Emily Kwong/KCAW)

Aging Southeast: Pioneer homes can’t meet demand

| Aging, Aging Southeast, Featured News, Housing, Southeast, State Government, Syndicated | No Comments

Alaska’s pioneer homes have far fewer beds than needed to meet demand. The region and state’s rapidly-growing senior population means waitlists have grown longer and longer.

Elizabeth Tyner, 92, lives with her granddaughter, Melinda Cook, left, and great-granddaughter, Shawnee Cook, right. Tyner is among Southeast seniors aging at home. (Photo by Angela Denning/KFSK)

Aging Southeast: Bunking with the family in Petersburg

| Aging Southeast, Family, Featured News, Health, Southeast, Syndicated | No Comments

Some Southeast Alaska families have stayed with the tradition of helping loved ones age in place. Elders live at home, with children and grandchildren, instead of an institution.

Haines physical therapist Marnie Hartman works with 92-year-old patient Marge Ward. Hartman says most of her business comes from people 65 and older. (Photo by Emily Files/KHNS)

Aging Southeast: Older residents impact region’s economy

| Aging, Aging Southeast, Economy, Featured News, Health, Local Government, Southeast, Syndicated | No Comments

Many of Southeast’s seniors get breaks on property and sales taxes. But they also bring money into the economy, often without tying up jobs.

FOR COAST Elder Fred John sings and plays a gospel song in his kitchen. (Photo by Leila Kheiry-KRBD)

Aging Southeast: Seniors give back by volunteering

| Aging Southeast, Featured News, Southeast, Syndicated | No Comments

Ketchikan residents 65 and older volunteered more than 2,700 hours last year. And that’s just those reporting to AARP. Throughout the region, seniors fill gaps in social-services networks.

78-year-old Ralph Strong, an Alaska Native veteran from Klukwan

Aging Southeast: Senior vets face extra challenges

| Aging Southeast, Featured News, Military, Southeast, Syndicated | No Comments

Veterans in remote Southeast Alaska face a lack of access to health care, transportation limitations and the high cost of living. But in Haines, older vets have a support network at the American Legion Hall.

Kelsey Wood's flower girl drops petals before Wood's walks down the aisle. The pretend wedding was organized so members of The Bridge could see Wood's get married before her weekend nuptials.

Aging Southeast: Seniors find purpose, friendship at The Bridge

| Aging, Aging Southeast, Featured News, Juneau, Southeast | No Comments

For seniors in Southeast, health care and housing options are limited. But a couple of adult day programs are offering relief for care providers, families and friends. They’re often a stop-gap solution until space opens up in a home.

Mary Lou Spartz discussing aging issues in the parlor of Fireweed Place, , a seniors’ apartment building in downtown Juneau. She among Southeast Alaska's growing older population. (Photo by Ed Schoenfeld/CoastAlaska News)

Aging Southeast: Region’s senior population growing quickly

| Aging, Aging Southeast, Featured News, Juneau, Southeast, Syndicated | No Comments

About 9,200 Southeast Alaskans are 65 and older. That’s almost a one-third increase over five years ago. It puts Southeast’s average age at about five years higher than Alaska as a whole.

Jacque Farnsworth and Jack Brandt lead a music activity at the Juneau Pioneers' Home. Farnsworth says she's been singing and playing piano there since 2003. (Photo by Lisa Phu/KTOO)

Aging Southeast: Finding a home in assisted living, if there’s space

| Aging Southeast, Featured News, Health, Housing, Juneau, Southeast, Syndicated | No Comments

Due to a shortage of assisted living homes, some of Southeast Alaska’s aging residents can’t stay in their home communities.

The number of Southeast Alaskans age 65-80 grew
34 percent
from 2010-2014. Further increases are expected.
The state’s senior property tax exemption cost Southeast governments more than
$5 million
in the 2015 budget year.
Read
the Alaska Commission on Aging’s plan for senior services.