In Hawaii, nearly a quarter million family caregivers help elderly loved ones with everyday tasks, according to AARP.
At the end of the month, those caregivers will visit Hawaii State Capitol to help teach lawmakers about issues related to the elderly and those who care for them.
Caregivers like Tony Lenzer, who enjoyed a happy marriage to his wife, Joan, for 63 years.
Then in 2012, Joan got sick. “She came home much more frail and disoriented than she was before, so it became a family crisis,” Lenzer said.
He took care of her until she died in 2014.
That’s partly why he’s such a big supporter of Hawaii Family Caregiver Coalition’s Caregiver Day at the Capitol.
“Caregiver Day at the Capitol is the one time a year when we get advocates and caregivers to come meet with all the legislators,” Lenzer explained.
Dozens of people will share personal stories with lawmakers, hoping to influence the way they vote on bills related to elder care and caregivers.
“It’s necessary to remind legislators in the midst of the thousands of things they have to do, that kupuna are a critical part of our community,” Lenzer said.
It’s a strategy that seems to work.
“They can share their stories, they can make what we are considering passing into law real,” said Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland, D-Liliha, Palama, Iwilei, Kalihi, Nuuanu, Downtown.
Caregiver Day at the Capitol takes place Tuesday, March 31.
The day starts at 8:30 a.m. with an orientation at the Executive Office on Aging, 250 S. King Street. The group will head to the Capitol at around 9:15 a.m. and reconvene at the Executive Office on Aging at noon for a debriefing and lunch.
If you would like to volunteer, call Tony Lenzer at 261-2095.