When the Alaska Legislature convenes later this month, it will consider a budget that makes no further cuts to Alaska’s Pioneer Homes.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Due to a shortage of assisted living homes, some of Southeast Alaska’s aging residents can’t stay in their home communities.