Data shows aging borough population

  • By IAN FOLEY
  • Monday, January 26, 2015 10:39pm
  • News

New data shows that Kenai Peninsula Borough residents are both older and younger than average.

According to a report released by the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development, the Gulf Coast Region of Alaska, the economic region which includes the Kenai Peninsula Borough, has the highest percentage of residents aged 65 years or older.

In 2014, the report estimated that senior citizens made up 13 percent of the Gulf Coast Region’s population. The borough contributed heavily to that figure by having 14 percent of its population be 65 years of age or older. In the state of Alaska, senior citizens make up 10 percent of the total population.

While the borough has an older population compared to most of Alaska, it is still has a lower percentage of senior citizens than the national average. In 2013, the most recent age data available from the U.S. Census Bureau, 14.1 percent of the United States population was 65 or older. That same year, only 13.6 percent of borough residents were 65 or older.

Rachael Craig, director of the Kenai Senior Center and Vintage Pointe Manor, said that she has seen a significant increase in seniors during her 14-year tenure.

She said that in the past she recalled having 25 people require home meal deliveries, and now that number has nearly tripled. Craig said that Vintage Pointe, a 40-unit housing complex for independent seniors, has a waiting list 130 people long.

Craig said that advancement in health services has helped the aging population. She also said that the Senior Center provides numerous activities including yoga and tai chi in order to keep seniors active.

“I think we have healthier seniors,” Craig said. “We have a wonderful population of seniors on the Kenai Peninsula that want to stay healthy and keep their brains active.”

Other facilities in the region are also busy.

At Heritage Place, a nursing facility located in Soldotna, 57 of its 60 licensed beds were occupied as of Monday.

Charlie Franz, administrator of Heritage Place, said that he hasn’t seen an unusual or drastic increase in patients’ age at the facility.

“It’s been pretty consistent,” Franz said.

However, Franz said that people who use the facility now are generally sicker compared to people who used it in the past. He said that people are able to live at home longer due to various programs in the community.

There are other theories as to why the borough has a higher percentage of seniors than many other parts of Alaska.

“It’s a beautiful place to live,” Franz said. “It’s a nice part of Alaska. You come here and son-of-gun you wake up one day and you’re still here.”

Terry Eubank, city of Kenai Finance Director, said that one reason for the high percentage of seniors could be attributed to the borough’s property tax exemption available to seniors.

While the state of Alaska has a mandatory minimum $150,000 property tax exemption for citizens aged 65 years and older, the borough has a $300,000 property tax exemption for seniors.

“I think that’s probably one of the main reasons that would impact (senior’s decision to live in the borough),” Eubank said.

Eubank said that another factor for the increase is the amount of programs and services for seniors.

“I think we have the infrastructure to provide the services that (senior citizens) require,” Eubank said.

Reach Ian Foley at Ian.foley@peninsulaclarion.com.

More in News

Sockeye salmon are gathered together at a test site for selective harvest setnet gear in Kenai, Alaska, on Tuesday, July 25, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Dipnets for commercial setnet fishers given emergency approval by CFEC

Up to three 12-hour periods of commercial dipnetting “may” be allowed each week from June 20 to July 31

Council member Dave Carey speaks during a meeting of the Soldotna City Council in Soldotna, Alaska, on Wednesday, June 12, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna explores increases to its water and sewer expansion fees

The fees are a single charge to people who are newly or differently demanding or utilizing the services of the city’s water and sewer system

Vice President Tyson Cox speaks during a meeting of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly in Soldotna, Alaska, on Tuesday, June 4, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Assembly to discuss short-term rental tax on Tuesday

The resolution describes a proposed tax of up to 12%

Photo provided by Special Olympics Alaska Central Peninsula
The Special Olympics Alaska Central Peninsula team stands together for a photo during the Summer State Games in Anchorage.
Area athletes claim 45 medals at Special Olympics Alaska Summer Games

The Central Peninsula team fielded 17 local athletes in the competition

Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion
Rep. Justin Ruffridge, R-Soldotna, speaks in support of debating an omnibus education bill in the Alaska House Chambers on Monday, Feb. 19 in Juneau.
Ruffridge talks successes, unfinished business after freshman session in Juneau

Ruffridge is up for election this year, facing a challenger in former-Rep. Ron Gillham

tease
Homer, Seldovia to celebrate summer solstice

Events will be held starting June 20

A freshly stocked rainbow trout swims in Johnson Lake during Salmon Celebration on Wednesday, May 10, 2023, at Johnson Lake in Kasilof, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Slow sockeye fishing at Russian River, good rainbow trout at Kenai Lake

A Northern Kenai Fishing Report published by the State Department of Fish… Continue reading

Council member James Baisden speaks in favor of an amendment to the City of Kenai’s budget that would add funds for construction of a veteran’s memorial column in the Kenai Cemetery during a meeting of the Kenai City Council in Kenai, Alaska, on Wednesday, June 5, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai budget amendment allocates funds for veterans’ columbarium in cemetery expansion

A columbarium is an aboveground structure that houses cremated remains

Council member Alex Douthit speaks in favor of an amendment to the CIty of Kenai’s budget that would reduce funds allocated to the Storefront and Streetscape Improvement Program during a meeting of the Kenai City Council in Kenai, Alaska, on Wednesday, June 5, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Funding reduced for City of Kenai’s storefront improvement grant program

Just over a year after the City of Kenai established its Storefront… Continue reading

Most Read