AARP National President Addresses Hawai‘i Caregiver Conference
Kevin Y. Kawamoto
Special to The Hawai‘i Herald
Gray skies and rainy conditions did not stop the hundreds of people seeking enlightenment from packing the Manoa Grand Ballroom of the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i on March 24 for AARP’s Caregiver Conference, themed, “Caring for Family, Caring for Yourself.”
The event featured a resource fair in the foyer outside the ballroom. Inside, speakers shared information and insight on a variety of topics. They included Dorothy Colby talks on “Positive Approach to Dementia Care,” Cat Sawai sharing “Body and Brain Activities” and geriatric physician Shari Kogan discussing “The Case for Caring for Yourself: Understanding the Medical Consequences of Caregiver Stress.”
Hawai‘i Sen. Jill Tokuda was presented AARP’s 2017 Capitol Caregiver Award for her work on issues affecting the well-being of older adults in Hawai‘i. “We’re going to keep working together, moving forward into the future,” Tokuda told the audience as she accepted the award. “We’re going to work even harder to make sure that you get the support you need to be able take care of our loved ones.”
AARP Hawai‘i state director Barbara Kim Stanton introduced the day’s keynote speaker, AARP national president Eric Schneidewind, who spoke on “What Family Caregivers Want and How to Help Them Get It.” He highlighted the benefits and features of AARP’s comprehensive caregiving resources website, www.aarp.org/caregiving. Schneidewind said AARP advocates for legislation to support caregivers, such as the CARE Act, which is now law in 39 states, including Hawai‘i. It requires acute care hospitals to provide patients with the opportunity to designate a family caregiver on their medical record; to notify that designated person prior to the patient’s discharge or transfer to another facility; and to offer family caregivers instructions on the medical tasks that need to be done at home after the patient is discharged. He acknowledged Hilton R. Raethel, president and CEO of the Healthcare Association of Hawaii, who was in the audience, for working with AARP Hawai‘i to help pass the CARE Act, which became law on July 1, 2017.
Schneidewind said AARP supports caregivers in the workforce by advocating for policies that “enable caregivers to juggle all their responsibilities.” Two-thirds of family caregivers hold down other jobs, he said, and family caregivers report that the stress of caregiving affects their physical and emotional health, their finances and their jobs.
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Kevin Y. Kawamoto is a longtime contributor to The Hawai‘i Herald.