How to prepare for the cost and demand of caregiving

It’s not a crime, but being a poorly trained caregiver could have devastating circumstances.

Babies and the elderly have much in common. They are vulnerable, at risk, but parents have nine months to plan for a baby while caregiving for a senior can happen overnight.

“Often times when a senior needs caregiving, it’s sudden, and you might have adult children that really care for their parents, but they find themselves in a situation where they’re not prepared for it,” said Scott Spallina with the prosecutor’s office.

Legislation was proposed this past session that would have provided for caregiver education. The bill didn’t pass.

Experts say that may cost the community more in the long run.

“Caregiving is incredibly expensive,” Spallina said. “People often times don’t realize how expensive it is to need care, and that’s why I’m disappointed the bill did not go through for long-term care education. A lot of people think, okay, when I get old, I’m just going to die. I’m not going to need long term care.”

The fact is, people live to be older here more than anywhere else in the country.

“One year of long-term care is equal to four years of college now. That’s how incredibly expensive it is and it’s bankrupting families,” Spallina said.

Spallina represents the elder abuse justice unit in the prosecutor’s office. While improper caregiving is not necessarily a crime, it can become one if neglect of an elder is involved.

Seniors and their families have an obligation, according to Spallina, to inform themselves on what proper caregiving involves.

“Go to those classes. Prepare yourself. Do estate planning so that you can afford proper care when you need it,” he said.

Kapiolani Community College offers courses on caregiving via the Kupuna Education Center. Click here for more information.

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