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Getting Ready for Hawaii’s Senior Living Boom

Innovative options and solutions are growing in response to increasing elder care needs and the graying of Hawaii’s baby boomers

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The first wave of baby boomers—approximately 80 million Americans who were born between 1946 and 1964—is turning 65 in 2011. For Hawaii, this will be the beginning of an unprecedented demographic shift. By 2030, our state’s 65-plus population is expected to rise from 15 percent to 23 percent. Experts agree that baby boomers will redefine the way we think about retirement and aging. The changes in Hawaii still remain to be seen, but industry insiders have some insights and ideas.

Hawaii shares unique family traditions and customs that are influenced by Polynesian and Asian cultures. Coupled with the realities of our demographic dynamics, this creates both a challenge and an opportunity for baby boomers, who are sandwiched between their aging parents and their working children.

Here’s a quick snapshot of some of the realities experts are beginning to see in Hawaii regarding senior living:

Reality #1: Hawaii has the fastest growing age 65-plus population in the nation, expected to grow by 81 percent by 2030. By then, the potential caregivers, who are between the ages 18 and 64—traditionally family members—will be just two younger adults (down from four today) for every older adult.

“A couple in their early 60s, who are still active and healthy, came looking for living options for themselves,” says Kahala Nui’s Director of Marketing Darlene Canto. “They recently experienced caring for elderly parents and did not want to burden their own children. Planning ahead for their own retirement is a ‘gift’ to their children and gives everyone a peace of mind.”

Reality #2: Hawaii residents enjoy the greatest longevity in the nation, but the state has only half as many nursing-home beds per capita as the national average. Our nearly full nursing-home median occupancy rate of 95 percent in 2010 is the highest in the nation.

“There is already a supply-and-demand issue in Hawaii for assisted living and skilled-nursing facilities,” says Bob Ogle, team leader for Kisco Senior Living, builders of Ilima at Leihano. “It’s a particular concern for Leeward and Central Oahu, where adults age 75 and older are expected to increase by 4 percent annually, compared to just 1 percent for the entire state. With greater health care needs for elderly parents, husband-and-wife adult children working and limited nursing care options in Hawaii, we encourage active seniors and children of aging parents not to wait for a crisis, but to begin planning now.”

Reality #3: About 80 percent of baby boomers intend to work past age 65. As a generation, they tend to value independence and having control; to reject traditional notions of getting old; to pursue an active lifestyle; and to leverage new technologies to stay intellectually, socially and professionally engaged and involved.

“We are seeing a paradigm shift in senior living facilities, a total turnover to a new system to accommodate a new way of aging for baby boomers,” says Lyle Takeuchi, general and regional manager at Holiday Retirement. “Now companies are targeting leadership staff members with hospitality backgrounds to operate these facilities similar to hotels, cruise ships and resorts.”

Reality #4: According to AARP, 90 percent of seniors today want to stay in their homes as they age. “Loss of independence” was named as their greatest fear by 26 percent of seniors currently age 65 and older.

“We are one of the first pharmacies to work closely with primary care physicians as part of a patient-centered medical health program that gives elderly patients a greater ability to live a quality life in their own homes,” says Mina Pharmacy’s Vice President/Chairman Hany Guirguis, RpH, Certified Clinical Nutritionist, PhD. “We offer free home delivery, refill reminder service and medication therapy management for safe and effective use of multiple medications. We also saw the need in long term care and are a specially licensed long-term care pharmacy serving skilled nursing, assisted living and adult residential care facilities.”

Reality #5: AARP Hawaii reports that care giving for aging relatives today has become more widespread and challenging. Older adults are more likely to have multiple and complex chronic health conditions and securing quality paid help to supplement family care in the home is a constant struggle.

“It’s important to recognize that the smart use of technology, proper medications, and medical and clinical care are critical to successful senior healthcare in Hawaii,” says Emmet White, Chief Executive Officer of Arcadia Community Services.

Aloha Habilitation’s Chief Executive Officer Jay Raymundo agrees.

“We are among a growing number of new home care companies that provide nursing respite, personal assistance, housekeeping services and skilled nursing for elders living at home to enable them to age in place and to give their family members the ability to continue to work and maintain productive lives,” says Raymundo.

As we face dramatic changes with our nation’s aging population, here is what some of Hawaii’s leading senior living providers see as the emerging trends and developments in senior care.

 

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