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The Power of Information

By Office of Communication Services    Published on 12/23/2013 More stories >>

Sarah Yuan (COF) was recently sworn in at Washington Place during the 2013 Commissioning Ceremony for Commissioners and Board Members, for a governor’s appointment with the Policy Advisory Board for Elderly Affairs.

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 seniors.

A quarter of the people in Hawai‘i will be 60 years or older by 2020, according to a report by COF.

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.