Retirement: Planning & Living
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5. Ask the right questions
When touring a retirement residence, come prepared with a thorough list of questions, says Carolyn Morrison, marketing director for Pohai Nani, a 16-acre retirement community overlooking Kāne‘ohe Bay. “First, decide if you want to rent or buy,” she says. “Then, decide if you want to live in a faith-based residence or not.” Pohai Nani is part of the Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society. Morrison advises, “Ask questions such as, ‘When are mealtimes? How flexible are service times? Do you have transportation?’ Take notice how helpful the staff is. Are they saying hello? Do they remember your name?” she asks. “Look in the dining room and see if there’s a lot of laughter or if it’s quiet. And it’s important to taste the food.” She also suggests asking about staff turnover rate, which can predict the level of service. “Pohai Nani’s beautiful location, quality service and low staff turnover are what set us apart.”
6. Make plans for your home and assets
“In Hawaii, the home is typically the primary asset of the family,” says Jared Kawashima of Kawashima Law Group, a firm concentrating in the areas of estate planning and probate and trust litigation. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, multigenerational families (defined as three or more generations living together) are 11.1 percent of households in Hawaii, which far exceeds the national average of 5.6 percent. Typically, these homes are passed on to the next generation. In the past, this was a costly and complicated process, but a relatively new state law has made that much easier. “The Uniform Real Property Transfer on Death Act makes it simpler and more cost effective to pass on your home to loved ones,” he says. Kawashima Law Group can help you navigate this process and draft your estate planning documents, such as a will, a revocable trust, an advanced health care directive and a general durable power of attorney.
7. Make estate planning a family affair
In the past, wills and trusts were often drafted in secrecy, but now it’s a good idea to make estate planning a family discussion, so there are no surprises and everyone understands their responsibilities. “I advocate making this an open-door process,” Rudy advises. “It shouldn’t be done behind closed doors with a lawyer. Open up the dialogue, as much as you feel comfortable with.”
And keep in mind, every family needs a unique estate plan. The team of experts at MacDonald Rudy Byrns O’Neill & Yamauchi can help find the best one for you. And don’t believe the misconception that estate planning is only for the very wealthy. Rudy says, “Everybody should have a plan, even if it’s just a simple will.”
8. Consider help at home
For those who would like to remain in their own homes but may require extra assistance, home care can be an ideal option, says Feli Caballero, president of Synergy HomeCare Hawaii. “Being at home allows you to maintain your independence and continue to live the life you’ve always lived,” Caballero says. This agency provides companionship, homemaking and personal care to seniors in their own homes. Services are catered to individual needs, and could include light housekeeping, to more personal care such as helping with bathing, grooming or walking, offering companionship, medication reminders, arranging appointments or simply lending an ear for story telling. Caregivers are able to come day or night, for as little as a few hours per month all the way up to around-the-clock care. “We match each client with a caregiver that matches their needs and personalities,” she says.
9. Make safety a top priority
“Many people are nervous that an aging parent is home alone,” says Cullen Hayashida, president of Kupuna Monitoring Services. “It’s important to figure out how they’re going to get help in an emergency.” A medical alert system can help. Kupuna Monitoring Services offers wearable pendants that, when activated, will contact a call center for help in 30 seconds. Many times it’s due to a fall, but other instances could be breathing problems, pain, confusion, or inability to get out of bed. No matter the issue, “the key is to prevent a small problem from turning into a medical disaster,” Hayashida says. He adds that the wearable devices have the advantage over pull-cord systems, because you may not be near the cord in an emergency. “Wearing the device gives you more freedom and flexibility, and offers you more peace of mind.”