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Aging in Alaska 2014 Special News Series

Joaqlin Estus


March 17 - 21, 2014,  As a part of KNBA Morning News, News Director Joaqlin Estus shared a series of stories that discuss the value of Elders, the personal rewards of maturity and the opportunities and challenges of an aging Alaskan population. 

This special news series was made possible through a MetLife Foundation Journalists in Aging Fellowship, a project of New Mediaand the Gerontological Society of America.

  Part 1 of 6 - Alaska: One of the nation's youngest states is aging

Alaska’s population is young, the third youngest in the nation after Texas and Utah. But that’s changing, with the state’spopulationagingmore dramatically here than in any other state.

Credit Joaqlin Estus
Life expectancy for Alaskans is one year shorter than that of the overall U.S. population due to factors such as binge drinking, tobacco use, and unintended injuries. Alaska Native life expectancy is seven years shorter than that of non-Native Alaskans.

Part 2 - Riskier lifestyles contribute to shorter Alaskan life expectancy

Behavior, outdoor lifestyle put Alaskans 34th in the nation in life expectancy.


Part 3 - Will we have enough doctors for aging baby boomers? Maybe

As chronic diseases take their toll on aging baby boomers, experts expect to see an increasing demand for doctors. And Alaska will need doctors interested in living in rural Alaska. One solution is to "grow our own."


Part 4 - Help for older Alaskans felled by disability comes at a cost

"Retirement age comes a lot sooner than you think.... so save early, save over a longer period of time. It’s less hurtful that way." That's advice from a 65-year-old man who recently moved into an assisted living facility due to disability.    


Part 5 - Elders crave Alaska Native comfort foods, attribute longevity to them

Macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, chicken soup, biscuits - Every culture has its comfort foods – dishes that remind us of our childhood and of home. For Alaska Native elders, comfort foods are more often dishes like smoked salmon, moose soup, or whale skin and blubber – called muktuk. But what happens when you get too old to gather those foods?


Part 6 of 6 - Secrets to happiness in old age

A Harvard studyof adult development shows a good marriage at age 50, and the ability to play, create and form new friendships after retirement, are stronger indicators of happiness at age 80 than low cholesterol or high income. What are some other secrets to happiness in old age?