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Survey Points to Increased Reliance on Family Caregivers

A new survey of AARP members shows that nearly half of Hawaii residents age 50 and older (47 percent) believe it’s likely they’ll provide unpaid care to a relative or friend in the next five years. The survey underscores the importance—and increasing reliance—on family caregivers as a primary source of care for the state’s rapidly aging population.

About a third of the older residents surveyed (33 percent) say that someone in their family has needed long-term care in the past five years, and 28 percent say they have been caregivers in the past 12 months.

Hawaii relies on family caregivers for the majority of the state’s eldercare services. A separate AARP report released earlier this year found that 247,000 caregivers statewide provide unpaid care valued at nearly $2 billion annually. Without this informal system of care, thousands of residents would have to leave their homes and communities to be cared for in institutional settings at much greater cost to themselves and the state.

Other significant findings in the survey:

  • 94 percent of older residents say it is important to have services that would help them stay at home for as long as possible if they become ill or disabled and needed long-term care.
  • 62 percent of older residents believe the costs of long-term care should be shared between individuals and the state. A quarter of respondents (25 percent) say the costs should be paid for mostly by individuals receiving care – either through insurance or savings.
  • 62 percent of residents surveyed also say they are not very or not at all confident they could afford the cost of nursing home care for three years. A 2011 Genworth Cost of Care Survey pegged the median statewide cost of nursing home care in Hawaii at more than $122,000 per year.

AARP Hawaii commissioned the survey to explore the views of both caregivers and non-caregivers and learn more about the services they need and what their attitudes are toward long-term care. The results are based on a telephone survey of AARP members ages 50-80 in Hawaii, fielded Sept. 1-12. A total of 1,001 interviews were completed yielding a sampling error of ± 3.1 percent.

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