When you think about places where vast numbers of seniors live, you tend to think of warm weather states such as Florida or Arizona. You probably would not even consider Alaska. And perhaps you would be right ? it has fewer than 60,000 residents over the age of 65, the fewest of any state in the nation. However that number has risen 58% since 2000, the largest increase of any state, so there is something going on in our most remote territory.
The Alaska Department of Senior and Disability Services is tasked with taking care of the growing senior population. Its stated mission is to promote “health, well-being and safety for individuals with disabilities, seniors and vulnerable adults by facilitating access to quality services and supports that foster independence, personal choice and dignity.”
It does this by offering programs and services designed to enrich the lives of seniors. They include:
-- Adult Day Services: Day care centers for seniors with impairments, primarily Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders (ADRD).
-- ADRD Education and Support: Outreach, information and consultation for Alzheimer’s victims and their families.
-- National Family Caregiver Support Program Services: Help for caregivers for seniors, as well as for those over 55 who are raising their grandchildren.
-- Nursing Facility Transition Program: Helping seniors with a disability transition from a nursing home back into their own homes.
-- Nutrition Services: Meals delivered to the home or served in a group setting at a local community or senior center.
-- Rural Long-Term Care Development: Assists in developing services in rural areas so that seniors can remain as close to home as possible if they need extended care.
-- Senior In-Home Services: A flexible menu of services delivered right to the home, including help with chores, medical care and respite for caregivers.
-- State Health Insurance Assistance Program: Better known as SHIP, this helps seniors better understand their Medicare coverage.
-- Transportation Services: Helping seniors get around, maintain mobility and independence.
-- Traumatic and Acquired Brain Injury Program: Services specifically for seniors with brain injuries.
It is highly recommended that every senior obtain a medical alert system. This is especially helpful in Alaska, which is such a large state and has so many remote areas. Having a central monitoring center looking after you could speed response time in the event of a medical emergency.
Every medical alert company operates in all 50 states, including Alaska. To compare the services from more than a dozen top companies, check out this link.
Seniors are among the most vulnerable members of our society when it comes to becoming victims of abuse or fraud. Alaska has an Adult Protective Services unit that is dedicated to making sure our elders are not abused, neglected or exploited.
If you are a senior who is being abused in any way or if you know of a senior who is living under these dire circumstances, you must file a report, called a Report of Harm, and it will be investigated immediately.
Alaska coordinates programs and services through regional Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRCs) throughout the state.