Archive for the ‘Caregiving’ Category

A Wordsworth Tree Brings Solace


palomia tree

When Raj went to Hawaii in 2013, she remembered my children’s  book Wordsworth! Stop the Bulldozer. Wordsworth and his friends write  poetry to save trees and Wordsworth asks readers to plant a Wordsworth tree. Raj brought two Palomia seeds back to Sacramento. The Royal Palomia took root.

Raj deeply believed that the tree would show its first blossom during her mother’s last year as she lived with Alzheimer’s Disease. It did. The tree bloomed for the first time soon after her mother died. Yesterday, we sat before the blossoming Palomia to honor the memory of Raj’s mother. We sipped tea and marveled how Alzheimer’s Disease had brought all of us together.

palomia 1

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by Frances H. Kakugawa


When I am old, my dearest,

Bring me no flannel nightgowns.

Long-sleeved with buttons up to my chin,

House slippers lined with flannel.

Whoever told you old is cold

Ought to be hung up from an oak.


Let me feel once again that red spaghetti strap of

A negligee falling off my shoulders,

As I lay in bed between satin sheets.

(Maybe not satin, as I could easily slip to the floor.)

Let me feel that cold oak floor under my feet.

I want to feel! I’m not dead yet, you know.


Come sit with me, even if the cat’s got my tongue.

Just sit and read or do what you enjoy most.

Sharing oxygen in silence brings far more joy

Than a Q&A on what I had for breakfast

Or a game to jump start my memory.

Ah, memory. How I detest that word.


But listen. Since I don’t plan to be old,

Delete this poem and let us just be.

Tell me a joke, take me to the mall,

Bring me a red rose, or simply sneak in

A glass of rosé. And laugh with me

For no reason at all, as we sip

Together in our Happy Hour.


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brookdale2016_booksIt was an honor to have been invited to present two sessions at this conference attended by inspiring people from across the United States who are making a difference in our 50 states, working with caregivers and family members who are raising children without their parents.

Whenever I’m on the road, the magic word becomes “Hawai‘i.” What joy to meet three very special people with Hawai‘i connections in Denver this past weekend.

So here we are, the Hawai‘i Foursome: Dr. Matthew Kaplan of Pennsylvania State University, PA; Terri Byers, Director, and Lani Sakamoto, Supervisor, at the Executive Office of Aging, Honolulu; and me.


Dr. Kaplan spent many years at Hawaii Pacific University and now works with Space and Places to build meaningful inter-generational relationships.

Thank you, Mary Asenjo, Carmen Mendieta, and Melinda Perez-Porter of Brookdale Foundation Group for your continuous interest in my work.

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essence-of-care-flyerMark your calendars! I have been invited to present at the Del Oro Caregiver Resource Center event The Essence of Care – a retreat designed to provide family caregivers with respite, rejuvenation and renewal.

Please join us on Saturday, November 5, 2016, at Town and Country Lutheran Church, 4049 Marconi Avenue in Sacramento from 10:00am to 3:00pm.

Registration begins at 9:30am | Retreat 10am – 3pm
COST: $40 (snacks, lunch and materials included) NOTE: If cost is a concern, limited scholarships are available.
RESPITE: If you need someone to care for your loved one in order to attend this retreat, free in-home respite care is available to qualified caregivers.

REGISTER/QUESTIONS: Please contact Del Oro Caregiver Resource Center (916) 728-9333. Space is limited – Register today! Deadline to register – October 28th

More information is here: http://www.deloro.org/upcoming-events/2016/11/5/the-essence-of-care and you can also download their registration form there.

SPONSORS: Del Oro Caregiver Resource Center, Elder Care Management of Northern California, Senior Care Solutions, Triple-R Adult Day Program, Colleen Watters Attorney at Law, and LPL Financial


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A big “Thank you!” to Roberta Murray and the Hawaii Community Caregiver Network for inviting me to deliver the keynote address at their annual caregiver conference. It was a nostalgic return to Kona where my teaching career began.

Some photos for now, more stories to come.

img_4271 img_4293


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In my May “Dear Frances” column for The Hawaii Herald, I share letters and phone calls from readers, and also some observations from visiting a nursing home in New York.

Here’s a sample. For more, read the column at the Herald‘s website.

Via phone call — it was the third call I received expressing the same sentiments.

“It’s not happening, Frances. I was so happy when you spoke to us at our adult residence. But, Frances, it’s not happening. I thought we would receive more compassion and kindness after you spoke to us, but it’s not happening. I have your picture near my bed and I pray and talk to you every morning. When are you coming to Kona?

Kona, HI

Dear Kalani,

Tell your director that, as you say, “It’s not happening.”

I’ll be speaking at the Hawaii Community Caregiver Network Conference at the Sheraton Keauhou in Kona on Sept. 9. I hope your staff members will be able to attend. Keep talking, Kalani.


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I spoke at Isabella Geriatric Center in New York City this weekend. I called the presentation “Gratitude. Trust. Dignity.” After my session, the residents surrounded me, asking me to return so every staff member, social workers and families could hear me. They asked, “Can you help us start book clubs and writing groups?”


They welcomed the homework I gave—to begin a daily Journal of Joy.

Coming next: a heart-warming observation in the elevator and more valuable lessons learned from the elders and the young.

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