Retirement: Planning & Living

15 Craigside

Pohai Nani

Retirement can be the beginning of the best years of your life—but you’ll need a good plan. Use these tips from local experts to start your journey.

1. Plan and prepare early

Kahala Nui

If you’re considering moving into a retirement community, think ahead in terms of years, not months. “I think people are surprised Kahala Nui’s wait list is two to four years,” says Darlene Canto, director of marketing and community outreach at Kahala Nui. And if you’ll need higher levels of care, you’ll need to consider the costs. “Average nursing care costs in Hawaii are $8,000 to $12,000 per month, per person, and are only going to go higher,” she says. To help ease financial stress, Kahala Nui offers its residents a Life Care Plan, which guarantees lifetime residency. “The Life Care Plan provides residents priority access to the Hi‘olani Care Center, and at a significant discount. Also, 90 percent of their resident deposit is refundable to their estate or to their heirs,” she says.

Early estate planning is essential to ensure your final wishes are fulfilled and your loved ones will be cared for. It’s best to plan while you’re stronger mentally and able to make careful decisions, says Michael Rudy of MacDonald Rudy Byrns O’Neill & Yamauchi, a law firm specializing in trust and estate planning and litigation. “In Hawaii, with good genes and good weather and happy people, life expectancy is long,” Rudy says. This means people are outliving their mental faculties, and unfortunately, there are more instances of the elderly being taken advantage of. “If you postpone estate planning, there’s a greater chance other influencers will come in and you won’t end up with what you wanted,” he says.  

2. Find the best living situation for you

“In Hawaii, we grew up with the idea that we should take care of our kupuna, and some may define that as moving Mom or Dad in,” says Tricia Medeiros, regional director of The Plaza Assisted Living. “Now, with everyone in the household working and the availability of other options, assisted living and other long-term care choices are more attractive.” Communities such as The Plaza allow residents to maintain their independence in an apartment-style community while receiving supportive services.

“When choosing a facility, there is no one community that is a perfect fit for everyone,” Medeiros says. The best way to choose, Medeiros says, is to experience it first. The Plaza offers short-term respite care, which allows you to try it, then decide whether the community fits your needs without a long-term commitment. “Moving to an assisted living community is a big decision for families, and The Plaza wants it to be the right decision,” she says. “It’s really about finding the best environment for our loved ones.”

The Plaza Assisted Living offers month-to-month rental communities and various levels of care. “Our residents can count on quality care and a great community that they can call home,” Medeiros says. “Our families can enjoy peace of mind knowing that their loved one is cared for and enjoying their golden years.”

"Our residents can count on quality care and a great community that they can call home." —Tricia Medeiros, The Plaza Assisted Living

The Plaza Assisted Living



3. Consider the full continuum of care

15 Craigside

As you grow older, your needs will undoubtedly change, so it’s important to know what levels of care your future home may provide. “As a not-for-profit organization, we take care of our residents for life,” says Suzie Schulberg, chief operating officer of 15 Craigside, Honolulu’s newest continuing care retirement community. A member of the Arcadia family of companies, 15 Craigside provides independent living, assisted living, nursing care, special care for those with Alzheimer’s and Dementia, and end of life care. This means no matter how your needs change, you can be assured of care with 15 Craigside’s Guaranteed Lifetime Care plan.

“This enables the individual to know that no matter what the future may hold for them, they will never be asked to leave 15 Craigside, so long as they do not willfully deplete their assets,” Schulberg explains. This provides residents with a sense of security. “Peace of mind is priceless,” she says. “It’s comforting to them knowing they’re not a burden to their families.”

4. Change your concepts of retirement living

Thanks to recent changes and improvements in long-term care, many people are seeing the exciting new possibilities of assisted living. “Perhaps we can provide opportunities for people to find their passion, to explore it, and dismiss thoughts of limitations,” says Darlene Canto of Kahala Nui. “It’s a magical time in our residents’ lives, and we are doing everything possible to provide them with quality of life, dignity and respect.” Local retirement communities are joining a national movement to what’s called resident-centered care. “It gives the resident greater autonomy, and we really believe it’s healthier, more positive and more respectful. It’s a step toward empowering the resident to maintain their fullest potential.”

“It’s a magical time in our residents’ lives, and we are doing everything possible to provide them with quality of life, dignity and respect.”
—Darlene Canto, Kahala Nui

Kahala Nui



5. Ask the right questions

Pohai Nani

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

Jared Kawashima

“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

Michael Rudy

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.”