Survey: Many providing unpaid care to adult loved ones

Eighteen percent of Maui residents age 45 and older say they provide unpaid care to an adult loved one and nearly 38 percent say they have done so in the past, according to an AARP survey of Hawaii registered voters.

According to the survey, Maui caregivers are helping or have helped their loved ones with such activities as shopping, transportation, meal preparation, household chores, as well as more complex care like managing medications and other nursing and medical tasks.

Most survey respondents said that being cared for at home with caregiver assistance is the ideal situation when the basic tasks of life become more difficult due to aging or illness. As such, among the top community services that Maui residents believe are extremely or very important to have to help people remain in their homes as they age are hospice (90 percent), well-trained certified home health care providers (85 percent), visiting nurses (85 percent), special transportation services for people with disabilities (83 percent), and a central place for caregivers to get information and resources (82 percent).

“As our population ages, it’s important for state policymakers to understand the critical role that family caregivers play in Hawaii’s home health care system,” said AARP Hawaii State Director Barbara Kim Stanton.

Maui’s registered voters age 45 and older strongly or somewhat support proposals to help family caregivers care for their loved ones and continue to work. Specifically, they support ensuring that employers cannot fire employees for taking time off for caregiving purposes (86 percent); requiring employers to provide a limited amount of unpaid leave to employees who have to take time off for caregiving (83 percent); and requiring employers to provide some paid leave to all employees that can be used for caregiving purposes (79 percent).

Adult residents also support proposals to help family caregivers navigate the health care system on behalf of their loved ones. Specifically, survey respondents support requiring hospitals and health facilities to explain and demonstrate medical and nursing tasks that family caregivers will need to perform after the patient returns home (95 percent); keeping a family caregiver informed of major decisions, like transferring or discharging the patient (96 percent); and recording the name of a patient’s family caregiver in the medical record upon admission (93 percent).

The average age of Hawaii caregivers (statewide) is 62 years old, and the majority are female (59 percent), married (65 percent), have a two-year college degree or higher (66 percent), work either full of part time (53 percent) and have a household income of less than $100,000 (58 percent). Many of these caregivers have had to use their own money to help provide care (62 percent) or make changes to their home for the loved one in their care (43 percent). More than a quarter (27 percent) says they have felt financially strained because of their caregiving responsibilities.

Results of the statewide survey are available for public review at www.aarp.org/home-family/caregiving/info-2014/hawaii-caregiving-survey.html.