Our founder and president, Kevin Turkington, is a member of the Municipality of Anchorage Senior Citizens Advisory Commission and serves on the board of the Mabel T Caverly Senior Center. As such, he’s been a proud participant in developing a Senior Friendly Project in Anchorage, with the goal of improving shopping experiences for our older citizens.
Senior Friendly projects exist throughout the nation and Anchorage began implementing it’s own in conjunction with the city’s rise in its 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?”
In fact, Alaska's senior population is growing at a faster rate in comparison to the lower 48 states. Some of you probably remember that 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, they would move to warmer retirement communities away from Alaska. But that trend is changing.
Now, more frequently, families are 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 numerous 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.
Hence, the timing for the Senior Friendly Project couldn’t be better.
The Anchorage Senior Friendly Project has been developed through a community co-sponsorship, with assistance from students of the UAA Anchorage Human Services Department, Adulthood and Aging Class.
The intention of this campaign is to create a community that will maintain the dignity, independence, and standard of living for all our senior citizens. Specifically, the 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.
Through collaborative efforts, the campaign will assist the community and businesses to move towards a positive future of understanding the needs of an aging population. It will also, ultimately, increase profits for businesses and the community. Benefits for businesses and establishments will 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.
The primary component of the project involves voluntary participation from area businesses and establishments. At the request of management, mystery shoppers will visit the premises and evaluate the business, clinic, restaurant or other establishments for senior friendliness. Subsequently, training will be provided to meet Senior Friendly standards and a Senior Friendly! decal issued for display. The names of these establishments will also be publicized in local media, and throughout the senior network.
In the coming weeks, we’ll report on successes and perspectives emerging from the Senior Friendly Project. In the meantime, 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.
If you want to know more about the issues that face Alaska’s seniors, visit our resources section.
Here’s to making Anchorage even more senior friendly!