AARP Hawai‘i: Living Your Best Life

Page 1

Living Your BEST Life After ( 50 ) INSIDE Disrupting Aging Page 4

Fighting Fraud in Hawai‘i Page 8

A Plan for Financial Security for All Page 10

5 Tips for Caregivers from Caregivers Page 13

Feeding Our Kūpuna Page 15




Contents 4 Living Your Best Life For many, turning 50 is the start of a new, exciting chapter. Meet three Hawai‘i people who are pursuing their passions in athletics, adventure and preserving our history and culture now.

8 Fighting

Fraud Together

Eight ways AARP Hawai‘i can help you protect yourself from becoming a victim of fraud.

10 The Secret

to Financial Security Getting started saving for retirement can be challenging. Other states make it easy for workers to save money for a better future. Hawai‘i is not one of them. But a program in front of lawmakers could change all that.




Maria Kanai

13 Take Care Caring for a loved one isn’t easy. Here are tips from caregivers and where you can find workshops, online and phone resources, and programs to help you along the way.


15 A Coalition

Jackie Boland Community Outreach Director

of Aloha

How a global pandemic mobilized the local community to feed kūpuna in need now and for the future.

Keali‘i Lopez State Director

Craig Gima Communications Director Audrey Suga-Nakagawa Advocacy Director

Message From AARP Hawai‘i It’s an American rite of passage. When you turn 50, a birthday card arrives from AARP inviting you to join. Some dread the card: Maybe we don’t want to think we’re “old.” For others, attitudes are changing. Stereotypes are being shattered. Aging is not a weakness, but a strength. Like wine, we get better as we age. We can live our best life after 50. We can pursue our dreams, explore possibilities, change careers, or just choose to enjoy life to the fullest. But aging well requires planning and a little bit of fighting for what we’ve earned. We all need to be able to easily save for retirement. We need to protect pensions, Social Security and Medicare, programs that we’ve paid into and that keep many kūpuna out of poverty. We need to protect ourselves and our ‘ohana from fraud. We also need to prepare for caregiving, either to give care to someone we love or to receive care. This is what AARP Hawai‘i does – help all of us understand and embrace aging, and choose how we live as we age. So, when you get that card from AARP at 50, don’t fret or throw it away. Take it for what it is: a birthday wish for a life that only gets better as you get older. Keali‘i Lopez AARP Hawai‘i State Director






Living Your Best Life (After 50)

How these three kūpuna are disrupting stereotypes of aging, pursuing their dreams and staying young at heart.


Learn more about Living Your Best Life:


n a typical day, Lori Auhll gets up before the sun at 5 a.m., drinks a protein shake and heads out for a lively tennis match with friends at Kapi‘olani Park. After two sets, she heads across the park, pops in her earphones and cools off with a vigorous 2-mile swim to reiki music playing from her waterproof iPod. A refreshing nap followed by a healthy late lunch, and this active 84-year-old calls it a perfect day. It’s more than just leisure sports, it’s training. Auhll is the oldest female competitor in the Waikīkī Roughwater Swim. She started competing in her 60s and has now completed the 2.4mile race 20 times. Auhll is one of many who are enjoying life after 50, taking on new hobbies, finding new passions or fulfilling dreams they never had the time or resources for earlier in life. People 50 and older are important to Hawai‘i’s future. Whether they’re continuing to work, doing what they’ve always done, finding new careers, contributing thousands of hours of volunteer work or caring for grandchildren and parents, through their experiences, they inspire multiple generations to live their best lives.

photos: sean marrs


The Athlete


uhll moved to Hawai‘i in 1966 for college, studying social work at UH Mānoa. For 20 Lori Auhll has years, she worked in child protective serentered the vices and while the job had great benefits, it Waikīkī Roughproved stressful. Working overtime, defusing water Swim 20 times. She has life-threatening situations, dealing with attorneys and completed it all calming down angry parents were all part of a 24/7 job. but twice. “I decided early on that I wanted to retire young so I would be able to do everything I intended to do,” Auhll says. She picked up tennis and paddling immediately after retiring, adding to a long list of outdoor activities that also includes skiing and horseback riding. She speaks fondly of riding in Turkey, New Zealand, Bali, Mexico, Istanbul and here until her favorite local horse passed away. And, of course, there’s swimming. She grew up in Minnesota, the Land of 10,000 Lakes, where water’s part of the lifestyle. At 5 years old, Auhll startled her mom when she jumped into a lake for the first time and easily started dog paddling. “It just came naturally to me,” says Auhll. She’s had her share of shark encounters and big daunting waves swimming solo in Hawai‘i, but so far, she says, no bad experiences. “After a while, you start being able to read the water and know what to do,” Auhll says.

Her mobility isn’t perfect— she has arthritis—but she goes to Straub for physical therapy and stretches at home every day. She often takes the stairs to her apartment on the 24th floor to strengthen her legs and lungs and credits diet for fueling her active lifestyle. Auhll stays away from salt, bread and butter, and sticks to brown or wild rice. Protein includes eggs, fish and lean meats like chicken breast or ground turkey, and she’s a fan of having a papaya at night. Her advice: “It’s never too late to start some activity. Don’t just walk around the block—you gotta get your heart going. Keep active and stay young!” AARP.ORG/HI



The Adventurer



rolling. Things get loose, things break and you’ll need to be able to fix it on the road or know where to find help.” He enjoyed the adventure. He’s seen moose, elk and sheep and once, he remembers vividly, was surprised to find boiled peanuts at a highway stand somewhere between South Carolina and Tennessee. “Somehow, that really stuck in my mind!” he says, laughing. He speaks fondly of New Mexico’s hot air balloon festival and his favorite, Yellowstone National Park. “You can’t put a

Lloyd and Lorraine Uto at Yellowstone National Park, Lloyd’s favorite destination.

The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

photos: courtesy of lloyd uto; opposite page: sean marrs


t had always been Lloyd Uto’s dream to own a recreational vehicle. The idea of packing up, getting into an RV and traveling across the country struck a chord in him at a young age. As a college student, he’d spend weekends visiting RV fairs. But it wasn’t until 2012, after 40 years as a dentist in ‘Āina Haina, that he retired and lived his dream. “Some people go for boats,” says Uto. “I went for RVs.” He and his wife, Lorraine, drove across the mainland for four years, exploring 38 states. Uto, 76, gets excited describing his first 40-foot model or the mechanics of a diesel motor home engine. “Lorraine, oh bless her heart. She just went along with me at first, but grew to love it,” Uto says. It was a big shift, switching from fixing teeth to fixing engines. Uto’s attention to detail and mechanical precision came in handy. “If you’re not a do-it-yourself kind of person, it’s really difficult,” Uto says. “Your little apartment is rocking and

The Guardian

price on this experience of flying into the Mainland and having your own house on the road with you. It’s amazing.” Another wonderful discovery was the relationships he and Lorraine built with fellow RVers, many of whom are also retirees with the time and financial resources to travel. “They are all generous, caring and patriotic people and we have a lot in common, including respect for law enforcement and military,” Uto says. The RV life is physically demanding, so he hasn’t driven around for a while now. Instead, he bought a luxury fifth-wheel camper and parked it in an RV campsite in Alaska. He calls it his second home and goes there every summer for fishing. “We’re enjoying life at our age now,” says Uto. “We’re living every day to the fullest and we love what we have together.”


olani Palace is a proud historic landmark treasured by many, including former KITV news anchor Paula Akana. She left her 35-year career in journalism to take the helm as executive director at the palace in 2019. Akana was 57. It was a big change. “Journalism had been my entire life. It was my safety zone. But I knew I wanted to do more for the community so when this opportunity came up, I did some really hard thinking and decided it was what I wanted.” Her earliest memory of ‘Iolani Palace was a visit when she was AARP.ORG/HI


The Guardian Continued a sophomore at Kamehameha Schools. “I remember being struck with how beautiful it was, but it was so empty,” she recalls. Akana, a history buff, minored in Hawaiian archaeology and anthropology in college. As a reporter, she was drawn to stories about artifacts that made their way back to the palace—an antique chair found at Goodwill or a table located on the Mainland. She talks about the palace with reverence, as though the building is a living person. “She’s 138 years old and showing her age. So even though millions were spent on restoring her… (it) needs so much more help,” Akana says. Each day brings a new challenge. Her schedule might include a long Zoom call and climbing up to the roof to look at leaks. Her people and communication skills came in handy, but now she’s tackling the ins and outs of administration, writing contracts and creating budgets during a pandemic. Visitors brought in 90% of the palace’s revenue until everything came to a halt in March. Careful budget cuts, donations and a paycheck protection program loan helped. Now, docent tours are back and the gift shop has moved online. “It was—and still is—an unsure time, but we’re pushing along,” Akana says. The pandemic strengthened Akana’s commitment to protect the palace and she believes her career change was meant to be. “The palace is such an important part of our history” she says. “I feel more of a real urgency to Learn more take care of her, not just for about Living Your us, but for future generaBest Life: tions.” disruptaging



Fighting Fraud Together Eight ways AARP Hawai‘i can help you protect yourself from becoming a victim of fraud.


hey’re out to get you. Whether it’s someone pretending to be a COVID-19 contact tracer or calling to offer tech support for your computer, criminals keep coming up with new ways to trick you into giving out personal information or giving them money. In worst-case scenarios, people lose their entire hard-earned retirement savings. That’s why in 2013, AARP launched the Fraud Watch Network as a trusted resource to track, in real time, scams happening all across the country and in your neighborhood. Criminals often target kūpuna because they generally have more money saved than younger people. “Scammers don’t care how hard you worked,” says Craig Gima, communications director of AARP Hawai‘i. “They’ll steal savings you spent a lifetime accumulating without hesitation and once it is gone, it is nearly impossible to get back. They are smart and they are ruthless and they are always coming up with new ways to steal your money. That’s why the Fraud Watch Network was created.”

illustrations: getty images


Here are eight ways the AARP Fraud Watch Network can protect you and your loved ones. 1. Toll-Free Fraud Hotline

If you suspect you just talked to a scammer or that a loved one’s fallen victim to fraud, you can report it and receive help by calling 877-908-3360. Expert staff and volunteers are on the line to give you advice on what steps to take next. They can also provide tips on how to spot scams, and referrals to law enforcement or other agencies.

2. Scam-Tracking Map

View an online map that is constantly being updated with reported scams in your neighborhood. You can search using filters such as ZIP code, dates, scam type and contact method. scams-fraud/tracking-map/

3. A Weekly Podcast

AARP launched a weekly podcast called “The Perfect Scam,” hosted by Emmy Award-winning journalist Michelle Kosinski. The series profiles America’s biggest scam stories and offers interviews with con artists and tales from scam victims and their families.

4. Free Alerts

Sign up for a biweekly “Watchdog Alert” to receive emails and text messages that alert you about the most recent scams. Go to and click on “Sign up for free ‘Watchdog Alerts.’”

5. Online Resources and Information

AARP’s website serves as a hub for fraud resources and information, complete

with links to federal and state law enforcement organizations.

6. Webinars and Local Workshops

The local AARP Hawai‘i office provides webinars, workshops and a speakers bureau that can give you insight on a variety of topics including how to spot scams and protect yourself. All are currently online due to the pandemic. You can search and register for upcoming events by visiting the AARP Hawai‘i website, If you are interested in finding a speaker, go to org/Hawaii/learning-from-aarp-hawaiispeakers-bureau, call 545-6025 or email for more information.

7. Social Media

Follow AARP Hawai‘i on social media

for local news and updates on recent scams. It’s an easy way to stay up to date. @AARPHawaii on Facebook and Twitter and @aarp_hi on Instagram

8. Free Document Shredding Day

Got confidential docs? AARP Hawai‘i partners with other local organizations to sponsor a free document shredding day, so no one can get their hands on your personal information. Bottom Line: Don’t click on links in emails and texts from strangers. If someone on an unsolicited call asks you for your Social Security number, bank or credit card information, medical insurance number or other personal information, hang up. For more fraud tips, articles and resources go to AARP.ORG/HI



We all know we should save for retirement early. But getting started can be challenging. Other states make it easy for workers to save money for a better future. Why isn’t Hawai‘i one of them?




illustration: getty images

The Secret to Financial Security

f you want to live your best life as you age, financial security is crucial. Those of us fortunate enough to have pensions and 401(k) plans have the means to achieve financial security. But about half of all private-sector workers—an estimated 216,000 people in Hawai‘i— cannot easily save for retirement through their workplaces. If workers haven’t saved, they face two stark choices: retiring into poverty or working until they die. Dennis Oda, former staff photographer at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, began his career at a time when pensions were still relatively common and when his employer did away with its pension, he contributed to his 401(k) savings plan. “Everybody should prepare early and pay attention to your finances,” Oda says. His preparation allowed him to retire early when the paper asked for voluntary layoffs in June because of pandemic-related financial losses. That move helped save a co-worker’s job. Although the timing during COVID-19 wasn’t ideal, he says he’s doing OK because of his savings. If Oda had not had a way to save for retirement at work, his situation today would likely be much different. All of us would like to think that we will save enough money on our own to fund a comfortable retirement. But human nature and university studies suggest differently. Only 1 in 20 people will do the research and open individual retirement accounts on their own. The rest of us only save for retirement when it’s easy, when the money comes out of our paychecks before we get a chance to see and spend it. But for many businesses, especially small businesses, it’s just too expensive and time-consuming to offer workers a


payroll savings plan. “The retirement savings crisis in Hawai‘i and across the country is like a ticking financial time bomb,” says Audrey Suga-Nakagawa, AARP Hawai‘i’s advocacy director. “About half of all households are in danger of not being able to cover basic expenses in retirement and that will have significant consequences if taxpayers have to pay more to fund basic services for kūpuna who haven’t saved for retirement.” Recognizing the problem, 12 states have come up with solutions to help small businesses, workers and taxpayers. Making Saving Easy Oregon was the first state to create a retirement savings program that small businesses could offer to employees at no cost to the businesses. The OregonSaves program has been operating for three years and as of September, more than 73,000 workers had saved more than $67 million. California and Illinois recently started similar programs and savings have passed $109 million in all three states. The program is a public-private partnership, similar to college 529 savings programs. The state facilitates the startup, but the money is held and invested by private financial companies in either Roth or traditional IRAs. The state doesn’t keep any of the workers’ funds; instead, they’re held in individual worker accounts. Workers can opt out of participating. In Oregon, the average worker contributes nearly 5.4% of their paycheck for an average monthly savings rate of $135.73. About 70% of

all workers who are given the chance to save, open an account. “What OregonSaves shows is that workers want to save money and if you give workers an easy way to save, they will take advantage of it,” Suga-Nakagawa says. “That’s why we need to start a Hawai‘i Saves program here.” AARP Hawai‘i has been advocating for five years to create a Hawai‘i Saves program, but has been turned away every time because of opposition from life insurance and financial companies that see it as unwelcome competition. Suga-Nakagawa says opponents of Hawai‘i Saves are being shortsighted. “If financial services companies were actually servicing small businesses, there would be no need to create a savings program,” she says. “They aren’t helping small businesses and workers because there’s no profit for them in small accounts. But if they were to look forward, once people build a nest egg and learn about savings and investments, they will be a large market in five or 10 years.” There’s another financial benefit to having more workers save money for retirement: Taxpayers will save money. An AARP study estimates that if workers save enough to generate $1,000 a year in extra income once they retire, the state would save $32.7 million in social services costs over 15 years and total state and federal savings would be $160 million in Hawai‘i.

The Retirement Crisis by the Numbers Workers are 15 times more likely to save if they can do so at work $2,500 – the amount of savings the average household has for retirement $14,500 – the amount of savings of the average household near retirement $18,000 – the average annual Social Security benefit for a 65+ family $20,000 – the amount older American families spend each year on food, utilities and health care

Learn More: hisaves

A small business perspective About two-thirds of Hawai‘i’s small businesses like the idea of a statefacilitated retirement program and AARP.ORG/HI



Fighting for Your Money

Continued say they would participate if it were offered. “Hawai‘i Saves is something I would definitely want for my staff,” says Ernest Moriwake, co-owner of Kapahulu Auto Repair. The company currently has eight employees. “I was on the other side, working for other people and I didn’t have savings. Now when I look back, I wish I had started saving when I was young. My retirement is now my business.” Deborah Miura, office manager at Kapahulu Auto Repair, says: “Small companies like us can’t afford to offer these things; payroll and rent are just the two largest factors that take away from your revenue. If we could offer something like Hawai‘i Saves, I think it’s a plus for so many people. It’s a benefit for employees and employers.” Miura isn’t just speaking about others. She says she can’t afford to live off just her Social Security. Miura opened a retirement fund a few years ago and is focused on trying to grow it now, while she’s still able to work. “Kūpuna would have a hard time unless they have established themselves well with a retirement fund or have state or government benefits,” she says. 12


Deborah Miura and Ernest Moriwake of Kapahulu Auto Repair.

photos: sean marrs; courtesy of pat bemis

The Secret to Financial Security

AARP Hawai‘i has a proud history of fighting to strengthen and prevent cuts to Medicare and Social Security, defeat efforts to tax pensions in Hawai‘i, lower prescription drug prices, prevent age discrimination, and improve retirement security. When Gov. Neil Abercrombie proposed taxing pensions in 2011, AARP Hawai‘i, our members and advocacy volunteers fought back and won. If you want to join our advocacy volunteers fighting to protect kūpuna and your money, email Advocacy Director Audrey Suga-Nakagawa at

Take Care Caring for a loved one isn’t easy. AARP Hawai‘i offers workshops, online and phone resources, and advocates for programs to help family caregivers.

Caregiving by the Numbers •


ransitioning into the role of family caregiver is often overwhelming, isolating and stressful. Pat Bemis’ husband already had Parkinson’s disease when they married, so his progression wasn’t unexpected. But it was still heartbreaking. “When you realize you have to step in, it changes everything,” Bemis says. “It changes your dynamics with one another. It changes the amount of time you’re going to spend with them.” When the shift happens suddenly, it can add another layer of emotion. In March of 2019, Keali‘i Lopez’s elderly diabetic mother suffered a debilitating stroke and seizure that changed everything for the whole family. Together with her two sisters and their children, Lopez had to quickly create a support system and schedule for her Gardner and mother so that someone could be with Pat Bemis her every day.

Family caregivers are increasingly diverse. Nearly 1 in 4 (24%) is a millennial, 40% are men and about 40% represent multicultural communities. Most family caregivers incur steep outof-pocket costs related to caregiving, spending $7,000 on average in 2016. Rising demand and shrinking families will increasingly strain family caregivers and those they care for. In 2010, in Hawai‘i there were six potential family caregivers for every person 80 years and older. By 2030, there may be only three potential caregivers for every person over the age of 80.

Caregiving resources • • •

Caregiving website: Prepare to Care guide: preparetocare AARP family caregiving Facebook group: caregivers/ Local AARP-sponsored caregiving workshops: Check or the AARP Hawai‘i Facebook page and click on upcoming events. AARP caregiver support line: 877-333-5885 AARP.ORG/HI



Continued Today, that means balancing her busy job as AARP Hawai‘i state director while tackling unfamiliar medical tasks like administering insulin shots and changing catheter bags. She’s thankful that AARP spearheaded the passage of Hawai‘i’s Caregiver Advise, Record, Enable (CARE) Act in 2018, which made sure the medical team at the hospital trained Lopez and her family members on how to handle such tasks before her mom was discharged. “It’s hard for people to know where to go and what to do after the realization that they’re going to be a family caregiver for a loved one,” Lopez says. To help with her own struggles, she attended an AARP caregiver conference. There, she learned about respite care, community resources and practical advice like how to use and where to buy special bed pads for her mother. “These were things I had never even thought about and didn’t know I would need,” Lopez says. Most caregivers aren’t as qualified or prepared as Bemis, who is a nurse and uses her medical knowledge every day to care for her husband. Or as equipped as Lopez, through her work at AARP. According to a recent AARP study, approximately 157,000 family caregivers in Hawai‘i provided 131 million hours of care to their parents, spouses, partners and friends in 2017. The unpaid value of their work— medical and nursing tasks, food preparation, and more—translates to a staggering $2.1 billion. Sometimes the most difficult step is finding somewhere to turn for help. AARP Hawai‘i has been a strong champion for helping older adults access home and community care services. The group actively advocates for the Kūpuna Care Program, and aging and disability resource centers. AARP Hawai‘i also offers workshops, presentations and conferences, educating and connecting people with groups, experts and information to ease the stress of a challenging new role. Lopez says: “Nothing prepares you for caregiving. Going to resources like AARP can ease the burden— once you know what you need to do and where to get assistance, it becomes easier to fill that caregiver’s role.” 14


Advice from 2 Family Caregivers 1. Start the conversation early Both Bemis and Lopez stress the importance of researching and discussing care early, before it’s needed. “Be gracious and sensitive. Now is the time to make an assessment with your family on what the future holds,” Bemis says. 2. Seek help If you’re a primary caregiver, it’s easy to start thinking you’re the only one who can take care of your loved one. That’s not true. “Ask a friend to help pick up your loved one or pick up food,” Bemis says. Get started by reaching out to AARP for community resources and surround yourself with your team: family, friends, therapists or other caregivers. 3. Rest and connect Make sure you give yourself a break. “You have to carve out your quiet time,” Bemis says. Her self-care includes reading and taking weekly sewing classes. Find online connections like book clubs, classes and concerts at And if you do lose your patience— it happens to the best of us— apologize and be kind to yourself. 4. Remember dignity “No one wants someone else to wipe their bottom,” Lopez says. Even in such tasks, Lopez makes sure her mother is always treated with respect. She is careful to let her know that she doesn’t mind and keeps the mood lighthearted. Lopez says it’s important to offer options, such as at meals, to help her mother have some control. 5. Be flexible You might have a plan, but your loved one may have other ideas. Be prepared to adjust and find other ways to make it work. Lopez used to keep bed rails raised so that her mother wouldn’t try to get out of bed without help. Mom doesn’t always remember that she can’t walk and needs help transitioning from her bed to her wheelchair. But Lopez quickly learned this made her mom feel imprisoned. “We had to come up with other strategies, such as leaving the hallway light on or keeping the door open so she didn’t feel alone,” Lopez says.

photo: opposite page, getty images

Take Care

A Coalition of Aloha How a global pandemic mobilized the local community to help feed kūpuna


hen hawai‘i families were ordered to stay at home in March, people were stranded. Caregivers and families separated. People of all ages were wary of everyday tasks, including grocery shopping. Honolulu’s Elderly Affairs Division was buried under an unprecedented number of requests for meal delivery and food assistance. But what touched Executive Director Derrick Ariyoshi was the overwhelming response from organizations asking how they could help. “The pandemic unveiled the spirit of aloha in our community during the most challenging of times,” he says. The city needed someone to spearhead the movement. AARP Hawai‘i worked closely with Ariyoshi’s team and other nonprofits including Kanu Hawai‘i, the Weinberg Foundation and Aloha United Way. “It was inspiring to see so many people stepping up to help,” says Jackie Boland, AARP Hawai‘i’s outreach director. The Kūpuna Food Security Coalition launched March 28, just three days after the first statewide lockdown began. AARP worked with 31 organizations such as the Salvation Army, the St. Francis Healthcare System, and the Hawai‘i Foodbank to coordinate food delivery and centralize information for the public. Other initiatives included a March fundraising telethon with KHON and the Show Aloha Challenge, which delivered chef-prepared hot meals to homebound seniors. As the group began researching who was in need, it became clear that many were not taking advantage of benefits such as SNAP or Meals on Wheels.

“In terms of long-term sustainability, our best course of action is to get people who qualify for federal dollars to apply so that the state and county resources can be targeted to people who don’t have that level of need but still do need assistance in some way,” Boland says. Now, the mission is evolving from emergency response into an ongoing effort. The team is working on initiatives to show seniors how to apply for benefits so that even after the CARES act funding sunsets on Dec. 31, 2020, no kupuna goes hungry again.

Want to help? Volunteer to deliver meals through Lanakila Pacific, meals-on-wheels, and Hawaiʻi Meals on Wheels, Donate to the Kūpuna Food Security Coalition at or find ways to volunteer at If you or a loved one need food and/or want to learn how to qualify for SNAP benefits, call the Aloha United Way’s 211 help line. AARP.ORG/HI