OHA Trustees grant Lunalilo Home $300,000


Source: August 2005 Ka Wai Ola o OHA Column

`Ano`ai kakou…  As an advocate for better health care for all Hawaiians, especially our kupuna, and as the Chair of the Native Hawaiian Health Task Force, I am very pleased to announce that on June 23, 2005, the Board of Trustees approved a grant of $300,000 to help fund the Kupuna Continuing Care Assurance Program which will be administered by Lunalilo Home over the next two years.  The program is designed to help make residential care, respite care, adult day care, and outreach nutritional services (hot meals delivered to a kupuna’s home) more affordable for Native Hawaiian kupuna.  

Lunalilo Home was established in 1883 by the will of High Chief William Charles Lunalilo to care for poor, destitute, and infirmed Hawaiians, with preference given to the elderly.  Lunalilo Home has been operating out of its present site at Maunalua since 1927.  Operations continued until 1997 when it temporarily suspended operations to undergo a major renovation to its aging two-story structure.  OHA helped fund major portions of this renovation work and operations resumed in August 2001.

The new Kupuna Continuing Care Assurance Program will allow Lunalilo Home to subsidize the residential care of kupuna in financial need.  The program is part of a long-term plan by Lunalilo Home to establish partnerships with other organizations so that they may expand their elder care services and assist more kupuna than it is currently able to serve.  An estimated 16,000 Hawaiian kupuna in the state may benefit from respite care alone. 

As most of you know, the cost of long-term care for the elderly has risen dramatically in recent years.  Families are finding that a kupuna’s Health Plan benefits (private or Medicare) are not enough to cover the cost of long-term care.  More and more families are forced to pay for costs out of their pockets or end up doing without long-term residential care for their kupuna.

Of the 38 current residents in Lunalilo Home, approximately 30 of them are only able to partially afford the cost of care or receive government assistance for health and financial needs.  Lunalilo Home partially subsidizes the cost of care for these residents through various fundraisers.  

The state’s older population is also increasing and aging at a rapid rate.  Between 1990 and 2000, the 60 years or older population increased by 19%, compared to about 9% nationally.  During the same period, the population of Hawaiians 85 years or older increased nearly twice as fast as the national average (68.9% vs. 37.6% U.S.).

An estimated 207,001 persons in Hawaii, or 17 percent of the state’s population, were 60 years or older in 2000, higher than the national average of 16.3%.  Hawaii ranks 20th nationally in the percentage of older persons (60+) residing in the state.  About 17,564 persons, or about 1% of the state’s population, were 85 years or older in 2000.

Roughly 5.5% of the state’s population over 60 years of age is Native Hawaiian.  About 75% of Hawaii’s total kupuna population (ages 60+) resides on Oahu.  An estimated 114,872 family caregivers reside in the state and provide about 107 million hours of care giving per year at an estimated value in 1997 of about $875 million.

Lunalilo Home estimates it could provide services to 167 Native Hawaiian kupuna per day for two years with the $300,000 grant it received from OHA.  The Home will also be able to expand their much needed adult day care services to assist working caregivers and hot meal services through “Meals-on-Wheels.”

After a lifetime of dignity, independence, and hard work, our kupuna deserve access to affordable elder care.  If not, we will run the risk of prematurely losing their wisdom at a time when the Hawaiian community needs it the most.  Thanks to the teamwork of OHA and Lunalilo Home, something substantial is being done to assist this vulnerable part of our population.  Imua e Hawai’i nei…

Calling All Volunteers! An OHA Sage Plus Update


June 2003 Ka Wai Ola o OHA Column

`Ano`ai kakou…  When the Native Hawaiian Health Task Force was first convened in 1999, we originally focused our efforts on four underserved and vulnerable groups – keiki, ‘opio, kūpuna, and underinsured makua.  We came up with ambitious plans, such as the creation of a Hawaiian HMO.  However, this plan was not pursued when an actuarial study found that, since Hawaiians have disproportionately poor health compared to the rest of the population in Hawaii, OHA could lose up to $20 million per year.

The Task Force then decided to refocus its efforts on the most vulnerable segment of our community, our kūpuna.  In 1996, the Pacific Health Research Institute reported that the rates of death from major chronic disease were higher for Hawaiian elderly than non-Hawaiian elderly.  They attributed this disparity to the late diagnosis and treatment of health problems.  The Task Force felt it could deal with this problem immediately and ease the suffering of our kūpuna by providing valuable information on Medicare benefits through the OHA SAGE PLUS program.  Most people do not know that Medicare pays for many preventive services such as: 

  • Mammography for breast cancer screening
  • Pap smears for cervical cancer screening
  • Colorectal cancer screening
  • Bone mass measurements for osteoporosis
  • Diabetes self-management and blood glucose monitoring
  • Flu and Pneumonia vaccinations.

These Medicare benefits can be a key to long lasting good health and can help our kūpuna determine their health risks and needs for preventive medicine.

The Task Force developed the OHA SAGE PLUS program a year ago as an outreach program to ensure our Hawaiian kūpuna receive all of the Medicaid benefits that they are entitled.  The State Executive Office on Aging (EOA) will train volunteers to conduct informational presentations to assist kūpuna in assessing their eligibility for Medicare, Medigap, Medicare+Choice, Supplemental plans, Hospice, Long-Term Care Insurance, and Advanced Healthcare Directives and other health benefits.  The application process can get bewildering for many kūpuna since Medicare rules and regulations are constantly changing.  The EOA provides volunteers with regular training updates.

The OHA volunteers will also collect vital quantitative data that will be valuable in formulating future programs and strategies to help the kūpuna population.  This data can also be used to justify grant applications for federal funds and to convince our own State legislature to fund more programs to assist kūpuna.

OHA’s staff from Hilo, Kona, Kauai, Maui, and Molokai will be undergoing the training so that they may bring this valuable service to kūpuna on the neighbor islands.  One of the goals of the program is for the training to expand to the neighbor islands.

After a lifetime of dignity, independence, and hard work, many of our proud kūpuna are too embarrassed to ask outsiders for help.  They also believe it is shameful to air one’s problems in public.  The Pacific Health Research Institute recommended greater outreach to the kūpuna community by providing information and referrals, which the program hopes to accomplish.

It is unacceptable that our kūpuna continue to be denied life saving health benefits because they lack the information to access it.  We must strive to do everything possible to help our kupuna get the information they need to improve and prolong their quality of life.

Improving the health of our kūpuna will only make the greater Hawaiian community stronger.  How can we build a nation when we cannot properly care for the most vulnerable part of our community?  Unless something is done now, their health will continue to fail and we will risk prematurely losing their wisdom at a time when we need it the most, a time when every entitlement for Hawaiians are under attack.

The next OHA SAGE PLUS training workshop is set for June 9-10, 2003 from 8:30am-4:30pm at either the State Executive Office of Aging or at OHA.  If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, please contact OHA staff member Nancy Holt at 594-1905.

An estimated 16,000 Hawaiian kūpuna are potentially eligible for Medicare program benefits.  We are determined to recruit at least 50 volunteers.  Our kūpuna generally feel more comfortable when people their own age explain things to them, however, all who passionately believe in assisting the elderly are urged to join the program.  Mahalo nui!