Resource Center serves Southeast Alaska seniors

Alaska's vast geographic space dictates more than its beauty-- in the case of the statewide Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRC) it determines access and the providing of services for Alaskans with disabilities and seniors and caregivers seeking long term support in their community.

In Southeast Alaska, the ADRC operates within Southeast Alaska Independent Living, Inc. (SAIL). Originally solely an independent living center serving people with disabilities of all ages, SAIL took on the role of ADRC 15 years ago to complement existing services already offered, according to assistant SAIL director Tristan Knutson-Lombardo.

"Many people that need hearing or mobility assistance cannot file these needs as a disability," said Knutson-Lombardo. "Instead, they can find support through the ADRC, and our resources as an independent living center allow us to enhance the services we can provide through the ADRC."

SAIL serves all of Southeast Alaska, including outlying communities like Metlakatla or Yakutat. The main office is located in Juneau with smaller offices in Haines, Ketchikan and Sitka. One-person offices operate out of Kake, Klawock and Yakutat, and SAIL staff travel to most isolated communities throughout the year to fulfill their commitment to being knowledgeable about all regional care options.

Loan closets full of durable medical equipment and assistive technologies like hearing aids or shower benches are offered at the offices in Juneau, Haines, Ketchikan and Sitka. Seniors or those with disabilities can rent equipment to try it out prior to purchasing and SAIL can assist with purchasing through subsidies.

While most visits to the ADRC are uniquely case-by-case, assistance filing Medicaid waivers is one of the most common requests SAIL assists community members with, as the State of Alaska requires a pre-screening process to determine eligibility for specific grant-based waivers such as ALI or APDD Waivers.

"Helping people understand who can provide in-home care or respite for caregivers and questions on health care are other huge requests we get," added Knutson-Lombardo.

SAIL also offers a host of customizable programs that inspire independence for community members in special ways.

HomeMAP, a home modification program for aging in place, uses a holistic, comprehensive home survey conducted by ADA compliant surveyors. Paired with counseling services, the program uses the home survey to not only suggest and implement physical home modifications like adding ramps or remodeling kitchens and bathrooms to accommodate walkers, but also supplement home modifications by connecting caregivers in the home to community resources.

Outdoor Recreation and Community Access (ORCA) gives seniors and community members of all ages with disabilities the opportunity to participate in outdoor recreation activities like skiing or kayaking with specialized equipment and is available in Juneau, Ketchikan and Sitka.

The newly created VOICE program allows flexible caregiving services for veterans. Administered through the VA of Alaska, VOICE gives veterans funds that can be used to pay a caregiver of their choosing, including family members that are already performing unpaid care in the home.

To find a program through SAIL that best supports your needs, contact Tracy VerVelde, SE Aging and Disability Resource Coordinator, at 907-586-4920, ext. 428 or email at