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Burden of Elder Care Eased in Hawaii with Passage of Kupuna Caregivers Act

Old-coupleFamily caregivers who are helping their elders, will now receive financial assistance for associated costs from the state of Hawaii. It is a nod to a tradition that will be gratefully appreciated.

The Kupuna Caregivers Act, signed into law by Hawaii Governor David Ige. It is the first of its kind in the U.S., according to a report from NBC News, “Hawaii Passes Law to Ease Responsibility of Elder Care.” Qualified caregivers will be provided with a voucher of up to $70 per day to be used towards services that they would otherwise need to perform themselves for their loved ones, including adult day care and assisted transportation.

Elderly care support is usually granted directly to care recipients, but the Kupuna Caregivers Act grants assistance to working family caregivers. These folks can be caring for family members who are above the Medicaid eligibility threshold. Although the grants don’t cover the entire cost of care that families need, it does allow them to provide more hours of in-home care and other services.

The burden of care right now in Hawaii is falling heavily on family members. This is particularly true for those who are referred to as the “sandwich generation”—stuck between the demands of both child care and elder care.

The Kupuna Caregivers Act stipulates that providing long term care for elderly family members without compensation can result in chronic stress. Due to the high cost of institutional care, children of elderly parents may leave their careers to provide the care themselves, the law says. The legislator acknowledged that there is a considerable amount of support that family caregivers who are working full time need to properly care for their loved ones—and not make impossible choices between keeping their jobs and being able to care for their loved ones. If they opt to care for their loved ones and leave their workplace, they also need support to adequately afford and provide good quality care.

Almost a quarter million Hawaiian residents—18.7% of the state’s population—are age 60 and older, says a report by the Center of the Family at the University of Hawaii. Of those residents, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) make up over half of the total.

With an estimated 154,000 unpaid caregivers, according to AARP, and roughly 92,400 of those being AAPI caregivers, the state’s voucher plan will clearly provide some much needed relief for residents. Members of the AAPI community believe that it is their responsibility to care for parents, but doing so without any pay creates a great deal of financial stress for them.

For fiscal 2017-2018, the state has allocated $600,000 for the program.

Reference: NBC News (July 11, 2017) “Hawaii Passes Law to Ease Responsibility of Elder Care”

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