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Hawaii Baby Boomers Hungry for Information about Long-Term Care

Laurie Kaneshiro is a 57-year-old interior designer who lives with her husband in Kaimuki. Three years ago she arranged for her mother, who was suffering from dementia, to move in with them so she could care for her.

See Also: Balancing Work and Caregiving

At first her mother was still fairly mobile and she was able to leave her home alone and continue working. As time passed and her condition deteriorated, however, they hired a caregiver, and over a two year period she ran through all of her savings – and her mother’s savings too. Eventually, Kaneshiro left her job to care for her mother full time, and after months of 24/7 care ended up qualifying her for Medicaid and placing her in a nursing home.

“It was the only choice we had left,” she says.

Laurie knows her experience is not unique. Indeed, tens of thousands of Hawaii residents face similar circumstances, and the number will grow as our population ages.

Statewide, the number of Hawaii residents age 85-plus grew by 72 percent from 2000 to 2010 (only Alaska and Nevada saw greater percentage increases in the number of oldest residents over the past decade.) That trend will continue over the next 25 years, as Hawaii’s 85+ population is projected to grow by 136 percent.

Many people don’t give a lot of thought to what they’ll do when they or an aging loved one needs care, but a growing number are looking for accurate information about where to go for services on each island and how much they cost.

In a recent survey of AARP members in Hawaii, nearly four out of five respondents said it’s important to have a central place where they can get information about all types of long-term care services.

One promising option is the Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC), a "one-stop shop" designed to simplify the experience of getting information and accessing services.

Another encouraging sign came earlier this year, when Gov. Neil Abercrombie called attention to the magnitude of the challenge in his State of the State address and committed $1.4 million to expand Hawaii’s ADRCs.

AARP welcomed the Governor’s pledge to provide funding for ADRCs as a positive step toward helping families navigate Hawaii’s complex system of care. Anyone who has had to arrange long-term care services for a loved one knows how frustrating it can be to identify affordable options. A fully functioning Aging and Disability Resource Center can help remove impediments to personal planning.

In the current legislative session, Senate Bill 2779 appropriate funds for the development of ADRCs in each county, to streamline access to long-term care services for older adults and people with disabilities. AARP Hawaii strongly supports this bill.

Advance planning can also help prevent seniors from having to rely on their children or government help alone. AARP offers a handy resource guide called Planning for Long Term Care.

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