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AARP Fighting to Protect Kupuna Care

Faced with the high cost of private nursing home care in Hawaii, many families are turning to home-based care as an alternative for their aging loved ones. But many are finding that private home-delivered care can be pricy too—especially for seniors living on fixed incomes in these tough economic times.

That’s why AARP Hawaii is working in the current session to appropriate funds for the Kupuna Care Program and ensure that public resources are available to help address a long-term care challenge that grows more serious by the year.

The state’s support for home and community based long-term care services is important, because Hawaii’s nursing homes are the fifth most expensive in the country. Moreover, our nursing homes have the highest occupancy in the country – leaving precious few beds for people who need care.

“Research shows that states that develop and support home and community based service programs are slowing the rate of growth in spending on care for older persons and people with disabilities,” said AARP Hawaii State Director Barbara Kim Stanton.

Kupuna Care was created in 1999 to make it easier for frail and vulnerable people to remain independent in their homes. It is a statewide, no-frills program that provides our elderly with basic services in their homes and communities – including adult day care, personal care, help with chores, home delivered meals, and transportation assistance. The state and counties contract with non-profit organizations who deliver the services more efficiently and at lower cost than government agencies can.

Home-based services are also critical to family caregivers, who provide the majority of care. On any given day in Hawaii, informal caregivers number about 169,000 and the value of their services each year is conservatively estimated at $1.45 billion. A typical caregiver is a woman in her 40’s or 50’s who holds down a full- or part-time job while providing about 20 hours of unpaid care each week to a family member.

Hawaii’s elderly and their unpaid caregivers need our support. Join us in protecting Kupuna Care by asking your legislator to support this vital program. We’re working to ensure that thousands of elderly citizens have access to basic care in their homes – the place that best meets their needs.

To become a volunteer advocate call Bruce Bottorff at AARP Hawaii at 808-545-6006.

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