For countless years, as Alaskans aged, many made plans to relocate to the Lower 48 to be near family or favorable climate for the final years of their lives. And for many of us who came to Alaska in our youth, we returned to the Lower 48 to help care for our aging family members through their end of life. Now with the expansion of senior services and housing in our community, I know of many examples of an aging parent or parents who relocated to Homer to spend their final years with established family here.
The aging population trends of the Southern Kenai Peninsula indicate that we have a “Gray Wave” building in the coming years. This senior population trend has been identified by the South Peninsula Hospital Community Health Needs Assessment (abbreviated as CHNA and pronounced as “CHINA”) as part of the local MAPP Coalition (Mobilization for Action Through Planning and Partnership). MAPP is described as “a coalition of numerous partnering agencies working together to improve community health.” This document can be found at https://www.sphosp.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/2019-2020_SPH_CHNA_FINAL.pdf .
The following chart and table document the projections of senior citizen age classes as they move from the year 2020 through 2045. As we see the rising curves of senior populations, we are going to see an expanding need for heath care services and housing options to support these seniors which would allow them to stay on the southern Kenai Peninsula. We want our seniors to stay in their homes among their families as long as possible. This is called “Aging in Place” and has been identified as one of the most significant factors contributing to senior long term health.
As Borough assemblyman for District 8, I will work with the mayor, assembly, Central Peninsula Hospital, South Peninsula Hospital and numerous partnering agencies to develop strategies and resources which will allow our seniors to Age in Place. We want our seniors here among us, as long as possible, with the resources to age with dignity and make all our lives richer with their legacies.
Lane Chesley is a long-time Homer resident who has served on local boards and governing bodies. He is running for the District 8 seat on the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly to represent Homer.