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Assisted-living needs discussed at Chamber

Posted: July 18, 2013 - 9:40pm  |  Updated: July 18, 2013 - 11:10pm

Following a week of heavy discussion on housing needs, community leaders spoke before the Juneau Chamber of Commerce at its weekly luncheon Thursday about the need for assisted-living in the Capital City.

What the speakers referred to as the “Silver Tsunami,” the wave of Baby Boomers entering retirement and old age, is something that requires planning, whether it be more assisted-living or acknowledging that seniors are a major asset to the local community.

“The level of need is here right now, today, and is going to grow,” Sioux Douglas, a Juneau Community Foundation Board member, said.

By 2030, the senior population will grow to nearly 8,500, according to Douglas and the other presenters.

To illustrate how imperative long-term care is, Scott Spickler, a New York Life Insurance Company Agent, asked half of the room to stand.

“What the deal is, is half of us are going to need care in our retirement years,” Spickler said, “which half gets it and which one is going to provide it.”

Long-term care for both parents and spouses is not something most consider when planning for retirement, according to Spickler.

“All of us, basically, work our lives to accrue assets, provide for retirement income. What I find in my business with retirement planning, business planning, succession planning, is that most of us avoid thinking about long-term care issues,” Spickler said. “When you look at building a nest egg of a half million dollars that you intend to spend, very few people think that that may all get spent on a spouse or yourself for care. And we know care costs will get higher and higher as we get older.”

More than 120 people attended a recent public interest meeting at the Nugget Mall to show support for assisted-living housing in Juneau.

Douglas said that among the attendees at the meeting, some 60 wished to form a committee to help push this issue before the Assembly.

“The real purpose for that meeting wasn’t only to tell you what we’re up to,” Douglas said, “but to illustrate the depth of support and demonstrate the need for those who may wish to come and invest in Juneau and operate an assisted-living home.”

Marie Darlin, a member on the Juneau Commission on Aging, said they are working to inform the Assembly about “what’s coming down the pipe. And that is this Silver Tsunami which all of a sudden is going to be here.”

“We just want to say that the Commission on Aging is trying to work with other organizations, and how do we get some of these things addressed and try to have the assembly recognize that these are some of the things coming down the road,” Darlin said. “And we’re going to have to start looking at them and do something about it.”

Finding non-profit or private investors is key to making anything happen, the presenters collectively agreed.

On a similar topic, the Affordable Housing Commission met earlier this week to discuss ways to further promote the Juneau Affordable Housing Fund.

Some of the ideas spawned from that meeting included incentive programs to encourage apartment building development and rental assistance, among other things such as adding accessory apartments to the existing housing stock.

Housing is in demand across the board, but steps are being taken to assure the needs are met for every market, including the aging.

“We have an aging population. We have a need for housing. We heard that projects tend to take 10 years when they’re community bootstrapped and it takes a while,” said Hal Hart, City and Borough of Juneau Community Development Director. “We also heard that that timeline is too long. The question now is what organizations will step up to consider this conversation of public, private and nonprofit?”

Contact reporter Kenneth Rosen at 523-2250 or at kenneth.rosen@juneauempire.com.

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