Let’s Be Senior Friendly!

Alaska’s senior population is growing at a faster rate in comparison to the lower 48 states. In the past, many Alaskan seniors spent their early senior years snow-birding: leaving Alaska during the winter months and returning for the summer months. Once they could no longer sustain this seasonal pattern, many would move to warmer retirement communities away from Alaska. But that trend is changing.

Many years of a volatile economy have increased the instance of two-income households and residents are now more frequently bringing their elder parents or grandparents to Alaska. Many embrace the idea of having their aging loved ones nearby to help raise their children but also so that those loved ones can be cared for when the time comes. In addition, many people are no longer leaving Alaska, due to the fact that areas once considered attractive for retirement are experiencing many problems associated with the poor economy. Senior services are more strained than ever and fraud, scams and other senior targeted crimes are increasing, right along with the senior population.

Mayor Dan Sullivan commented, “There has been a 52% increase in our senior population in the past 10 years. Seniors as consumers, contribute an estimated $1.46 billion into the state! This amount is increasing further as baby boomers are added annually to our population. So how can we, as a community, help?”

We are excited to tell you about a new program that has been in the works through the collaborative efforts of the Municipality of Anchorage Senior Citizens Advisory Commission and the Mabel T Caverly Senior Center, with assistance from students of the UAA Anchorage Human Services Department, Adulthood and Aging class. The Senior Friendly Project is aimed at improving the shopping and social experiences of our older citizens and creating a community that is of course, senior friendly. The project is funded through sponsorships, senior friendly business certification fees and contributions.

How Does it Work?

The project will involve mystery shoppers who, at the request of management, will evaluate their businesses, clinics, restaurants and other establishments for senior friendliness. Subsequent training will be provided and a Senior Friendly! decal issued for display. Participant names will also be publicized in local media and throughout the senior network.

Through these efforts, the campaign will assist the community and businesses to move towards a positive future for understanding the needs of the aging population. It will also, ultimately, increase profits for businesses and the community. The intention of this campaign is to create a community that will maintain and uphold the dignity, independence and standard of living for all our senior citizens. Benefits for businesses and establishments will also include: opportunities to improve customer service and access through specific recommendations, a distinct marketing advantage, increasing business visibility to older visitors and tourists and an established positive reputation among older consumers.

If you’d like to learn more, contribute or become a sponsor, please contact Denise Knapp at the Mabel T Caverly Senior Center (907) 276-1496.

Here’s to making Anchorage even more senior friendly!