Elderhood Project: Aging and planning your future

Here they are – the baby boomers in action. For now.

“The Baby Boomer group. Very large group that was born between 1946 and 1984, right now, this is the group that’s providing care to their parents, to their relatives,” says Gerry Silva, AARP Hawaii president.

In fact, they represent nearly a quarter million people in Hawaii providing care at any given time. That’s the good news.

“The bad news is that very shortly, they’re going to require care. And the group following them, the Gen Xers, the Gen Ys are a lot smaller group,” Silva says.

Simply put, that means there will be fewer people to care for the baby boomers as they age. What about institutional care?

“Hawaii has probably the highest cost of care homes in the country, somewhere between $125,000 and $135,000 a year. The other thing is they’re mostly filled. There are not a lot of vacancies if you could afford to pay,” Silva says.

Medicaid may offer some help, but Silva emphasizes this is not a government problem. He says it’s everybody’s problem. The state of Hawaii filed a long-term care commission report last year.

“The first thing it said is, Hawaii’s long-term care system is broken. That’s the start. The other thing it said is, the great majority of people don’t even understand how it works. And some of what they understand is wrong,” Silva says.

AARP offers this booklet titled Living Longer, Living Smarter. It encourages families to begin the discussion about long term care – before it’s required.

“If everybody sits down around a kitchen table and has this conversation, they’re going to be better off than if they didn’t. It’s really tough to have a conversation like this when you’re two days out from coming home from the hospital,” Silva says.

Go to http://www.aarp.org/states/hi to find out about the booklet – and getting the conversation started.

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