Articles written by Erin Kirkland


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  • Sexual abuse and Alaska's elders: What to know

    Erin Kirkland, For Senior Voice|Mar 1, 2024

    According to the National Council on Aging, five million individuals over age 65 experience sexual abuse each year, but such trauma remains the least-reported of all sexual violence. In Alaska, where sexual assault remains high (three or four times the national average) and continues to trend upward statewide, it’s still a struggle to make abuse against older Alaskans a visible epidemic requiring attention. Alaska’s Standing Together Against Rape (STAR), headquartered in Anchorage, is a statewide organization that since 1978 has responded to...

  • Mindful grieving and recovery through yoga

    Erin Kirkland, For Senior Voice|Jan 1, 2024

    Perhaps the most consistent element of the loss and grief process is its absolute in-consistency. Anyone who has lost a loved one to death, divorce, illness or separation knows firsthand the ebb and flow of feelings, made more complicated by physical and emotional reminders of their absence. It can be hard to know how to help ourselves when every aspect of our human form is affected by a loss, ranging from tearfulness to muscle aches and sleep disorders. And while therapy and group support can...

  • Alaska senior centers differ in approach to activities during pandemic

    Erin Kirkland, Senior Voice|Aug 1, 2020

    When the novel coronavirus COVID-19 reared its head in March, senior citizens were advised to take notice. This new illness was hard on those age 65 or older, people were told, and indeed, four months later, statistics bear this out: 80% of COVID-19 deaths affect the elderly population. But consensus on just how and where seniors should ride out the pandemic, and beyond, isn’t clear. And seniors across Alaska, like everyone else, are balancing risk and necessity with a desire for normalcy. Senior centers play a huge role in the lives of o...

  • Talkeetna activities promote a 'together apart' state of mind

    Erin Kirkland, Senior Voice|Aug 1, 2020

    Just after Independence Day, I jumped in my car and for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began, drove beyond the boundaries of Anchorage to the village of Talkeetna, two hours north. A devastating element of the coronavirus' grip has been its effect on Alaska's tourism industry. This seasonal boom of visiting humanity caters to nearly three million visitors each year, most of them fresh off cruise ships and tour buses, and many stopping in Talkeetna on their way to or from Denali...

  • Quarantine, test or just stay home?

    Erin Kirkland, Senior Voice|Jul 1, 2020

    Since the end of March, Alaska has been under a mandatory two-week quarantine for anyone entering the state. Under that regulation, titled “Health Mandate 10.1 - International and Interstate Travel - Order for Self Quarantine,” individuals arriving in Alaska from domestic or international communities were required to isolate away from the general public for 14 days. Inbound travelers were also supposed to fill out a Traveler Declaration Form provided by the state upon arrival, outlining quarantine plans, and listing a contact number during tha...

  • Settlement reached on Pioneer Home rate increase lawsuit

    Erin Kirkland, Senior Voice|Jun 1, 2020

    A lawsuit filed in November 2019 related to massive rate hikes at Alaska’s Pioneer Homes has been settled out of court, Alaska State Attorney Kevin Clarkson said on May 6. In a statement released by the Department of Law, Clarkson addressed the dismissal. “The plaintiffs and the State have asked the court to approve this resolution calling for dismissal of the lawsuit. The parties agree there is no benefit to continuing expensive and time-consuming litigation over rates that will no longer be in effect after July 1 of this year.” Alaska House B...

  • Travel will look different forevermore: Are you ready?

    Erin Kirkland, Senior Voice|Jun 1, 2020

    Normally by mid-May I've come and gone several times from my home in Anchorage, sometimes unpacking and re-packing in the same day. It usually feels both frenetic and satisfying to finally be on the road, in the air, or upon the water after a long winter of wishing I was traveling. But nothing is usual, this year. Statewide mandates, while easing for most Alaska cities, are still in place, including a 14-day quarantine for incoming travelers from Outside. But truth be told, many Alaskans, like...

  • Alaska ferries increase COVID-19 protocols

    Erin Kirkland, Senior Voice|Jun 1, 2020

    In an effort to protect the health and safety of passengers and crew, the Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS) has announced a revised procedure for coronavirus mitigation, effective immediately. These protocols will be visible in all AMHS facilities and aboard all vessels, and will include: • Reminders to passengers and AMHS employees to practice good hygiene and follow social and physical distancing guidelines. The wearing of face coverings is strongly recommended, as per the Centers for Disease Control guidelines. • Passenger capacity on eac...

  • COVID-19 grief and loss assistance available through Red Cross

    Erin Kirkland, Senior Voice|Jun 1, 2020

    The American Red Cross recently launched a Virtual Family Assistance Center (VFAC) at https://www.redcross.org/virtual-family-assistance-center.html to support families struggling with loss and grief due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. “This is an incredibly difficult time for everyone, but especially for those who have lost a loved one due to COVID-19,” said Annie Caulfield, American Red Cross of Alaska disaster mental health regional lead. “Not only have these families experienced the unexpected passing of a loved one, but they are a...

  • Rent, mortgage assistance available to Anchorage residents

    Erin Kirkland, Senior Voice|Jun 1, 2020

    Applications are now open for the Municipality of Anchorage’s $1 million COVID-19 Rent and Mortgage Assistance Pilot Program, offering rent and mortgage support for individuals economically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Municipality is partnering with United Way of Anchorage’s ( https://www.liveunitedanc.org/ ) 2-1-1 to process and distribute the funds. “Many Anchorage families are paying the price for the public health response to COVID. This program bridges this tough time,” said Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz. Anchorage residents a...

  • Four tips for COVID-19 shopping

    Erin Kirkland, Senior Voice|May 1, 2020

    Alaskans may be good at maintaining distance from each other, but if you’re a caregiver (and even if you’re not), eventually you’ll have to leave the house to get groceries, replenish medications, or gather other supplies. If you usually stock up on incontinence supplies, toilet paper, or other products for personal care via Amazon or some other bulk supplier, be aware that shipping to Alaska may be backlogged. It may be better to shop locally to be sure of supplies on hand. Here are four tips for your personal safety, and the safety of other...

  • Stuck at home? Take a 'virtual vacation'

    Erin Kirkland, Senior Voice|May 1, 2020

    If one thing is certain in this time of uncertainty, it's that humans love to travel. The World Tourism Organization reported that 1.4 billion people traveled globally in 2018, taking boats, planes, cars, and even their own two feet to see what the rest of the world has to offer. Here in the United States, the month of May is often considered a kick off to summer travel, when schools let out and traditional vacations begin. But 2020 has so far been anything but traditional, thanks to the...

  • Alaska State Parks Seeks Volunteer Camp Hosts

    Erin Kirkland, Senior Voice|May 1, 2020

    With much of the United States and Canada still gripped by COVID-19 travel restrictions, volunteers are needed to fill a number of campground host positions usually filled by Lower 48 retirees. Alaska State Parks says it will need to rely upon Alaskans this summer to fulfill camp host duties, which include restroom maintenance, fee collection and general supervision of campgrounds around Alaska. In exchange, hosts receive a seasonal campsite suitable for RV living and a small stipend. “Alaska State Parks is working hard to keep our parks open,...

  • Web series focuses on diabetes and COVID-19 care

    Erin Kirkland, Senior Voice|May 1, 2020

    The Stanford Center for Continuing Medical Education is offering a new national ECHO program series to address the urgent needs of primary care providers caring for patients with complex diabetes during the time of COVID-19. Part of an 18-month pilot program that allows researchers at Stanford University and the University of Florida to learn more about how to improve care access for underserved adult and pediatric communities living with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D), the ECHO Team is working with primary care providers, as well as children and adults...

  • COVID-19 digest, April 2, 2020

    Erin Kirkland, Senior Voice|Apr 1, 2020

    Alaska’s current case count As of April 1 at 3 p.m., Alaska had 10 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of affected citizens statewide to 143. There are nine individuals hospitalized, no new deaths, with 5,000-plus coronavirus tests administered. Dr. Anne Zink, Alaska’s chief medical officer, also relayed information that test kits are being sent to rural communities, and health aides are in the process of training to enable them to administer tests to residents of villages. The State of Alaska’s COVID-19 page on the Depar...

  • Learn about walk-and-bike-friendly communities at Sitka conference

    Erin Kirkland, Senior Voice|Apr 1, 2020

    Located on remote Baranof Island at the gateway to the Pacific Ocean, the city of Sitka is probably the last place one would expect to be at the forefront of the walking-biking movement. Yet this community of under 10,000 people is not only in front, it's fast becoming a leader among other walk and bicycle-friendly towns in the United States, winning accolades for its innovative approaches to human-powered advocacy and activities. From June 9-13, Sitka's walking and biking groups will play host...

  • COVID-19 digest, April 3, 2020

    Erin Kirkland, Senior Voice|Apr 1, 2020

    Current COVID-19 statistics from State of Alaska At the time of Thursday’s press briefing, the novel coronavirus had affected 157 Alaskans, with 11 new cases, 15 total hospitalizations, and no new deaths related to the disease. Governor Mike Dunleavy reported that 5,530 tests had been performed statewide, including at a drive-up testing site recently built in Bethel. Additionally, Alaska currently has 73,000 total masks; 26,000 N95-type masks for frontline medical personnel; and 4,700 gowns. The governor also reiterated a call for the public t...

  • COVID-19 digest, April 6, 2020

    Erin Kirkland, Senior Voice|Apr 1, 2020

    Weekend brings additional COVID-19 cases to Alaska The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) announced on Sunday, April 5, one new death and 14 new cases of COVID-19 in four Alaska communities – Anchorage (4), Fairbanks (7), Juneau (2) and Seward (1). This brings the total case count in Alaska to 185. These new cases and the new death were reported from 12 a.m. until 11:59 p.m. on April 4, and reflect data posted at noon Sunday on the state’s website, coronavirus.alaska.gov. The person who died is a 71-year-old Anchorage res...

  • Alaska COVID-19 digest, April 7, 2020

    Erin Kirkland, Senior Voice|Apr 1, 2020

    State of Alaska coronavirus case count As of April 6, 2020, there are 191 Alaskans who have tested positive for COVID-19. Six new cases were identified during the evening press briefing, with two cases in Anchorage, one in Eagle River, one in Petersburg and one in Soldotna. New cases are reported between 12 a.m. until 11:59 p.m. the previous day, and are reflected on the State of Alaska COVID-19 response page each day at noon. (Editor's note: the count was updated at noon on April 7, with 22 new cases to 213 total. Breakdowns by age were not pr...

  • Alaska COVID-19 digest, April 8, 2020

    Erin Kirkland, Senior Voice|Apr 1, 2020

    State of Alaska releases data hub for coronavirus tracking Governor Mike Dunleavy and the State Department of Health and Social Services released a comprehensive tool to help the public track cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). https://coronavirus-response-alaska-dhss.hub.arcgis.com/. Known as the “Data Dashboard,” the chart breaks down cases by region, borough or census area, and community, thus providing a more detailed account of the illness. The page also allows for information on case gender, testing and cumulative hospitalizations...

  • COVID-19 digest, April 13, 2020

    Erin Kirkland, Senior Voice|Apr 1, 2020

    Alaska sport fish season still open The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced on Monday that sport and personal use fishing will remain open for the 2020 season, as long as individuals stay in compliance with State of Alaska public health mandates. In a media release, the department stated that “Although travel between communities is prohibited under issued health mandates, the public may still travel to fishing locations,” provided that ADF&G guidelines are followed: 1. Fishing activities should occur as close to home residences as pos...

  • New web portal available for COVID-19 economic impact payment information

    Erin Kirkland, Senior Voice|Apr 1, 2020

    Earlier this week, the Treasury Department launched a new web tool to allow registration for individuals seeking payment through the recently-passed CARES Act who do not normally file a federal income tax return. Qualified individuals who typically receive benefits from the Social Security Administration — particularly those with children under the age of 17 — should utilize the new web portal to ensure they receive the $500 per dependent Economic Impact Payment. People who receive Social Security retirement, survivors, or disability ins...

  • Municipality of Anchorage releases plan for relaxation of mandates

    Erin Kirkland, Senior Voice|Apr 1, 2020

    At a community briefing held late afternoon Monday, April 20, Mayor Ethan Berkowitz gave the first indication Anchorage is on the verge of reopening some businesses. Citing a plan called “Safe Anchorage: A Roadmap To Reopening the Municipality of Anchorage,” Berkowitz and members of his administration waded into the when, where and how city goods and services will be managed in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The plan calls for four phases: Easing; Recovery; Maintenance; and New Normal. Each is bolstered by a listing of acceptable activities, pr...

  • Golden, Colorado shines for senior travelers

    Erin Kirkland, For Senior Voice|Mar 1, 2020

    Wild West, here we come; cowboy boots, big belt buckles, and a sense of adventure in tow. It's Golden time. Located just 20 minutes from downtown Denver, the small city of Golden packs a punch for visitors looking to become acquainted with Colorado's rich western history while also accessing the towering Rocky Mountain wilderness. Golden truly is "Where the mountains meet the plains," nestled in beautiful Clear Creek Valley. Surrounded by high points – North and South Table Mountains, and M...

  • Safe and successful shopping during COVID-19

    Erin Kirkland, For Senior Voice|Mar 1, 2020

    Alaskans may be good at maintaining distance from each other, but if you’re a caregiver (and even if you’re not), eventually you’ll have to leave the house to get groceries, replenish medications, or gather other supplies. If you usually stock up on incontinence supplies, toilet paper, or other products for personal care via Amazon or some other bulk supplier, be aware that shipping to Alaska may be backlogged. It may be better to shop locally to be sure of supplies on hand. Here are four tips for your personal safety, and the safety of other...

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