This article originally appeared in Maui Now on March 29, 2018

Maui Business | Maui Now

By Maui Staff

In recognition of her integral work to support family caregivers in Hawai‘i, AARP named Maui Sen. Roz Baker as a 2017 “Capitol Caregiver.”

Sen. Baker joins a bipartisan group of nearly 100 elected officials from more than 30 states cited by AARP for their work to support family caregivers, who help their parents, spouses and other loved ones live independently at home and in the community—where they want to be.

“AARP thanks Sen. Roz Baker for championing the Kupuna Caregiver bill, SB 534/HB 607 in 2017,” said Barbara Kim Stanton, Hawai‘i state director of AARP, which serves nearly 150,000 members age 50 and older in Hawai‘i. “She deservedly received national recognition for sponsoring the legislation to create the first-of-its-kind-in-the-nation program to help working caregivers. The new program helps make the big responsibilities of family caregivers in Hawai‘i a little bit easier.”

The Kupuna Caregivers program, which started earlier this year, provides up to $70 a day of services, such as senior day care, so that working caregivers can continue to work while providing family caregiving to a loved one. Officials say funding of up to $4-million is working its way through the Legislature this year to expand the program to help more people.

“Family caregivers provide invaluable care to their loved ones,” said Baker. “As Hawai‘i’s population ages, it’s important that the Legislature supports kupuna and the family caregivers who take care of them.”

Across Hawai‘i, about 154,000 family caregivers provide unpaid care for their older parents, spouses, children and adults with disabilities, and other loved ones— valued at about $2.1 billion annually. They help with bathing and dressing, meal preparation, managing finances, transportation, grocery shopping and more.

AARP National President Eric Schneidewind presented the award to Baker in her office during a visit to Hawai‘i last week.

“The Kupuna Caregiver program is an important step to providing a little bit of help for family caregivers,” Schneidewind said. “With this program, Hawai‘i is taking a leadership role in supporting working caregivers.”