Did you know that Hawai‘i not only has a significantly higher percentage
of elderly than the national average but also that percentage is growing? By
the year 2020, according to a report by the Center on the Family (COF), a
quarter of the people in Hawai‘i will be 60 years or older. “Needless to say,”
the authors comment, “this will have significant impacts on all aspects of
society, including the economic structure, use of health and social services,
and interpersonal and family relationships.”
To empower individuals, families, and communities to meet the
challenges of the Silver Wave, COF developed the online Data Center on Hawai‘I Aging.
Their database, a collaboration between COF and the State Department of Health’s
Executive Office on Aging, offers policymakers, agencies, advocates, and the
general public the most comprehensive available collection of data and publications
pertaining to Hawai‘i’s rapidly greying population. The associated publication database
brings together full texts or abstracts of journal articles, dissertations,
governmental and agency reports, and legislative acts relating to Hawai‘i’s
A quarter of the people in Hawai‘i will be 60 years or older by 2020, according to a report by COF.
Nor is the Data Center, for all its importance, the only
contribution COF makes to the issue of aging in Hawai‘i. Associate Specialist
Sarah Yuan was also recently appointed by the governor as a member of the
Policy Advisory Board for Elder Affairs. Members of the Board are selected for “their
ability to make contributions to the solution of problems relating to aging,” a
charge Dr. Yuan is well qualified to fulfill owing to her work on intergenerational
relationships and the demography of aging. The honor is even greater in that
she may be one of the youngest members of the board, a majority of which is
required to be over 60 years old!
In her doctoral work, Dr. Yuan looked at the future long-term care
needs of America’s rapidly aging population, making a strong case that neither
individuals nor existing systems were prepared to meet these increased demands.
In part, she concluded, this was due to a lack of knowledge—of what services
would be needed, how much these would cost, and what was already available. But
luckily, her work, along with COF’s Data Center, has been helping to address
this knowledge gap ever since.