I was attending a legislative hearing some years ago dealing with senior issues. The hearing went on for some time as the committee members talked about significant health care problems affecting seniors in Honolulu. At some point, a respected senior advocate from Maui raised his hand and said, “Excuse me, this NOT the state of O‘ahu. It’s the state of Hawai‘i.”
Everyone laughed because what he said was exactly true. Half of the state’s population lives on the Neighbor Islands. And, Maui alone has nearly 32,000 seniors — a number that is expected to increase to approximately 54,000 by 2020.
On the Neighbor Islands, hospitals and senior care facilities are often few and far between. Family members may be miles — or islands — apart. There are higher costs for gas, groceries — virtually everything seniors count on for quality of life. We hope that policymakers and institutions keep that in mind when making decisions that could impact seniors across the state.
In this issue, Generations Magazine visits Maui as a starting point for this conversation about our Neighbor Island seniors and their families, but I feel certain other Neighbor Islands will soon be given more consideration, not just by the magazine but by those people helping seniors as they age.
The fact is, I’m thinking about some waterfront property on Moloka‘i. I might be able to afford it if I live in one of those little storage sheds from Sears. I’ll have to talk to Mrs. Matthews first.
The Elderhood Project airs on KHON2 Friday Morning news at 5:45a.m. and Thursday at 5p.m.