Planning for the silver tsunami

The Pioneer Home is the only assisted living facility for senior citizens in Juneau. Photo by Heather Bryant / KTOO.

The vision for an assisted living center in Juneau is expanding to include a new senior center, independent living and a social service non-profit center on one campus.

First, supporters of the idea are asking the Juneau Assembly to assist in a city-wide survey to quantify senior housing needs.

Previous surveys have indicated a need, but the size of that need is unclear, says Sioux Douglas, co-chair of a task force organized to tackle the issue.

“We want enough data that it tells us what housing and services seniors in Juneau need now and will need in the future. We want to look at the outlying communities, at least in northern Southeast, so that elders who need to come to Juneau for housing and services can do that,” Douglas says.

She says the survey also would answer how big a place to build.

“How many units? How many people?  What’s it going to look like?  What services do they want the most?”

Douglas hopes the survey will be underway by early next year, since Juneau is behind the curve in planning for what’s being called the “silver tsunami.” People age 65 and over are the fastest growing segment of Alaska’s population.

Planning for that population is one reason Douglas believes the Assembly should help fund the needs assessment, estimated to cost $40,000 to $50,000.

Other groups are interested in the data:  An organization called United Human Services would likely co-locate a social service non-profit center on a senior campus.

Joan O’Keefe is Executive Director of SAIL, or Southeast Alaska Independent Living.  She says UHS is modeled after other multi-tenant centers in the U.S. and Canada, where non-profits share facilities, such as a board and conference rooms.

SAIL and four other non-profits are currently “proving the model” in a leased space on Hospital Drive.

SAIL is considered an ADRC, or Aging and Disability Resource Center.

“Aging and Disability Resource Centers are part of a federal effort to help people more easily access the long-term services and supports that are available in their communities,” O’Keefe says. “That might include transportation, or assistive technology, or in-home care. ADRCs are designed to connect seniors and people with disabilities and caregivers with long-term services and supports of their choice.”

O’Keefe believes Juneau’s ADRC would logically be located on a senior campus, as well as a non-profit center under the United Human Services umbrella.

Douglas says the vision is to build one campus – typical of centers across the nation – which would include a senior activities center, an assisted living home, apartments for independent seniors, an ADRC, and a center for other non-profits.


NOTE: Updated to correct the last name of Sioux Plummer, her former name,  to Sioux Douglas. We regret the error.

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