Advances in sanitation, medical knowledge and intervention, and the elimination of many infectious diseases mean we live longer than ever before. It also means we enjoy better health in the second half of life.
Because we live longer, healthier lives, local organizations offer resources that focus on services that cater to everyone from the healthiest to the frailest adults. The goal of each organization is to make the years after age 50 the most productive and satisfying.
How do families and individuals find the right resources? Take a couple minutes to begin developing a plan. Write down personal interests and hobbies. Perhaps you enjoy playing games with others, exercising, spending time outdoors, learning, volunteering, reading or gardening. Also note your needs or limitations. Identify anything that keeps you from these interests and hobbies. Common limitations include transportation, mobility or stamina.
Now, begin exploring the community to find opportunities that align with both lists. Some helpful steps include:
1. Visit Maui's Online Aging and Disability Resource Center Database. Go to www.mauicountyadrc.org and click on "Find Services." There are two search options. The first allows you to click on service categories that align with either/both lists and the second is an alphabetical listing of organizations in the community. The database is very extensive so plan enough time to really explore the services and organizations included in it.
2. Learn about the services offered through Kaunoa Senior Services. On Maui, Kaunoa operates the West Maui Senior Center in Lahaina and the Senior Center in Spreckelsville. Kaunoa is much more than a leisure program. It includes assisted transportation, a congregate dining program, Meals on Wheels and the Retired & Senior Volunteer Program. If you don't already receive Kaunoa's monthly newsletter, contact its office today and ask to be added to its mailing list. Call 270-7308 (Spreckelsville) or 661-9432 (Lahaina) or learn more at www.co.maui.hi.us/index.aspx?NID=458.
3. Contact the Maui County Office on Aging. The office's primary focus is to protect the well-being of older adults in Maui County and emphasize activities that promote aging in place. The first step in accessing appropriate services through the office is to call for information and set up an appointment for a comprehensive in-home intake. The intake can take a couple hours and will identify services in which the individual and/or family qualify. These may include adult day care, chore services, family caregiver support (including respite care), home delivered meals, homemaker services, legal assistance, nutrition counseling, personal care and much more.
4. Use the Maui County Volunteer Center to identify volunteering activities that are in alignment with interests. Hands On Maui is the center's online portal for searching available volunteer opportunities for all ages. Visit www.handsonmaui.com to explore the opportunities. Some common volunteer opportunities include Na Hoaloha (Neighbors Helping Neighbors), Maui Arts & Cultural Center, Haku Baldwin and much more.
5. Learn about the resources of Hale Mahaolu. Many people think of Hale Mahaolu as being senior housing. But it's much more. Staff members also provide meal programs (both congregate and home delivered), personal care services, homeownership counseling and housing for families. Visit their website at www.halemahaolu.org or call them at 872-4100.
6. Explore the University of Hawaii Manoa Cooperative Extension office in Kahului, which is part of the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources. This year, it celebrates 100 years of providing quality, non-biased, research-based resources and information to the community. Some of the programs offered through the Kahului office include the master gardener program, nutrition and health, food safety, 4-H Youth Development, aging, intergenerational, turfgrass and edible crops. Visit the College of Tropical Agriculture online at www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/maui or call 244-3242.
7. Join a civic group or service club. Groups include the Lions Club, Rotary Club, Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs, Kiwanis Club, Neighborhood Associations, MEO senior clubs and much more. The best strategy for finding the right fit is to spend time talking with friends and family to learn about groups they are involved with and running searches on the Internet. Also, consider contacting MEO to learn more about its senior clubs. MEO's number is 249-2990.
Maui has so many resources that contribute to healthy and active aging, and a single column will never adequately highlight all the opportunities. The steps outlined above are a good jumping off point.
Take some time today to explore opportunities that will best help meet the needs of those adults in your life who are 50, 55, 60 or better.
* Heather Greenwood is with the University of Hawaii Manoa Cooperative Extension, Maui Intergenerational and Aging Programs. Aging Matters covers topics of interest to the aging Maui community and appears on the third Sunday of each month.