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Caring For Your Aging Parents

Hawaii's life expectancy is now ranked among the highest in the world and highest of any state in the union. Statewide, it is estimated that approximately 79.8 percent of our elders reside with a spouse, their families or other relatives, as compared to 68 percent on the mainland.

Because families in Hawaii have a greater tendency to care for their elderly at home, it is highly recommended that potential caregivers start to learn early about the services available in the community. Caregiving for a disabled person is very stressful; often, a 24- hour day becomes a 36-hour day. The caregiver is unable to get a good night's sleep and soon gets sick. There is help available.

Family members often feel guilty when they seek alternatives or help with caregiving, such as senior centers, adult day care, adult day health or respite care. You should not feel guilty because often both the elderly person and the caregiver benefit and their lives become less stressful and happier.

Kuakini Health System owns and operates two Adult Day Centers on Oahu. One is located on the campus of the Honpa Hongwanji Temple at 1727 Pali Highway; the other is located at St. Timothy's Episcopal Church in Aiea - 98-939 Moanalua Road. Both centers are open Monday through Friday, except for holidays, from 6:45 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. The Adult Day Center provides a safe and home-like environment enabling caregivers to go to work or to school without having to worry about an older family member left home alone. The Adult Day Centers provide opportunities which promote the social and physical well being of the older adult.

For more information about these supervised Adult Day Services, call 547-9534.

Elderly Safety Tips

Here are some tips to help keep an elderly person safe at home. Home accidents can be prevented and it is better to be safe than sorry.

• Be safety conscious at all times.
• Keep walkways clear and free of clutter.
• Have adequate lighting, especially on stairs and landings.
• Use a night light in case someone needs to get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom.
• Install handrails along all stairways and check the railings periodically to make sure they are secure.
• Wipe up spills to help prevent slips.
• Install non-slip treads on stairs as well as in the tub and on the bathroom floor.
• The bathroom should have a grab bar for the tub to make getting in and out easier.
• The bathroom door lock should be a type that can be opened from the outside in case of an emergency.
• The bedroom should be on the ground floor and have an easy fire exit.
• Do not use throw rugs on the floor.