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We Must Advocate for Older Adults

There is currently legislation pending for the upcoming legislative session regarding kupuna or elderly care. How we can help? With COVID killing more than 140,000 older adults in nursing homes and over 40,000,000 folks aging into the senior ranks by 2030, more than ever we must advocate for the older adult.

Many kupuna find a shortfall in dollars spent for basic care and assistance, which includes a hand up and not a handout for their survival.

Some are fortunate enough to have a care giver (some nursing homes or agencies for elder care are cost prohibitive at $7,000 to $10,000 per month, and long-term insurance is quickly depleted), who in some cases lives with the person receiving care or comes after work or daily to help with personal hygiene, toileting, meal preparation, assistance with feeding, food insecurity, house work, transportation, medication, (taking proper dosage, obtaining the correct medications which again can be cost prohibitive for routine and necessary drugs), shopping, financial advocacy, outside services both governmental and non-governmental.

Times are tight, but the elderly bear the brunt of isolation, especially during COVID and its variants. They are left out of group activities and feeding programs and may not be able to communicate their needs. Some have diseases, mobility issues or conditions that hamper their ability to advocate for themselves.

As we age we need positive advocacy for seniors, especially those living alone or who have care givers who are unpaid who may be family members or concerned friends.

In many cases (especially in Black or brown care givers and recipients), the care giver receives no help with care giving or respite care for themselves, and are in need of being paid and of having better care giving policies. They may have difficulty getting information on resources in the broader community and the ability to access them.

Roles for care giving are also changing, as care givers are asked to do more, such as monitor medication and their effects, health-condition changes, and then be able to communicate those changes to health professionals, social workers and others who give resources to the care giver and the person receiving care (the need has grown from 56% in 2015 to 71% in 2020.

The financial impact to care givers may also be significant (many are between $15,000 and $49,000 in annual income), as they must draw from personal savings, use credit cards, and take out loans or lines of credit to assist with necessary purchases. They are also looking at how and if they can work, asking for more hours, taking on a second job, and starting working or putting off or never stooping working.

We as a society must care for the kupuna who came before us and paved the way for who and what we have become. Legislators! Please look at bills that fairly compensate care givers, review resources for the elderly, increase respite care for the care giver. As we advance through the millinium none us are getting younger, and it is imperative that we have these services in place.

Beverley D. Tobias, Kapa‘a



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