The director of AARP’s Public Policy Institute visited Kona on Tuesday, March 25 to speak at a free community event focusing on caregiving and long-term care at the King Kamehameha Kona Beach Hotel.
Susan Reinhard is the author of a national study that challenges the assumptions many people have of family caregiving. The study, Home Alone found that as people live longer, family caregivers are called upon to provide increasingly complex kinds of care – such as injections and wound care – for which they’re often untrained and unprepared.
While in Hawaii, Reinhard supported a bill before the Legislature that addresses this issue. Senate Bill 2264 (the CARE Act) would require hospitals to give caregivers a live demonstration of how to provide the care needed to help seniors live independently in their homes.
The Kona event focused on the facts and myths of planning and paying for long-term care and how Big Island family caregivers are coping with the challenges they face. As Hawaii County’s population ages, family caregiving is emerging as a community issue. An AARP survey of Kona-area residents age 50 and older last year revealed the extent of peoples’ neglect and/or concern over planning for their future long-term care needs.
Among the survey results:
- 62% said they were extremely, very or somewhat likely to need long-term care in the future.
- Nearly half (45%) said they were not planning for their own long-term care because they were just trying to meet their own daily living expenses.
- Nearly three-quarters of those surveyed (71%) said they didn’t want to depend on family or friends for their care needs, yet 44% said their family or friends would take care of them.
Hawaii County has the second oldest population in the islands, with 15.9% of residents age 65+.
The event will also feature a panel of Hawaii County aging experts who will share their perspectives on the challenges facing caregivers and their efforts to help aging loved ones live independently at home.