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Archive for the ‘Elder Care’ Category

 

 

ON THE ROAD AGAIN TO HAWAII . . .

I will be back in Hawaii next month to talk on caregiving and for the release of my new book from Watermark Publishing, “Echoes of Kapoho.”

Please check this column, my blog or Facebook page for updated schedules. For now, here is my schedule:

  • Thursday, Nov. 7, 10-11:45 a.m.: I will be at the Kau Rural Health Community Association, Inc., in Pahala at an event for caregivers. It is sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Association, Kau Rural Health Community Association, Inc. and Watermark Publishing. Lunch will be served. The Kau Rural Health Community Association, Inc. is located at 96 Puahala St. Registration by Friday, Nov. 1, is required. Call Auntie Jessie or Auntie Theresa at (808) 928-0101 to register, or email Patrick Toal of the Alzheimer’s Association at patoal@alz.org.
  • Saturday, Nov. 9, 11:30 a.m.: I will be introducing my new book, “Echoes of Kapoho,” at Basically Books (1672 Kamehameha Ave.)

At 10 a.m. on that same day, I will be at the Hawaii Island Adult Care conference, speaking on caregiving from 10 – 11 a.m. Call Marcie Saquing at (808) 961-3747, ext. 107, for reservations.

I will also be traveling to Maui on this trip, giving lectures/workshops on the following dates:

  • Wednesday, Nov. 20, 5-7 p.m. A lecture for the Alzheimer’s Association at: Maui Adult Day Care: 665 Kahalui Rd, Kahalui, Maui.

Call Christine Spencer for reservations at 808-591-2771: ext. 8235 or

Kathleen Couch at: 808-871-5804.

. Friday, Nov. 22: Keynote address at the 18th Maui Family Caregiver Conference sponsored by the Maui County Office on Aging at the Grand Wailea Resort. Call Vicki Belloumini at: (808) 270-7233 for details and reservations.

And, finally, O‘ahu book signing dates for “Echoes of Kapoho” are still being secured. Please check my Blog and Facebook page for the dates.

 

 

 

 

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Suddenly Alzheimer’s Disease is given prominent space on television and in our news media because a famous person’s mother has Alzheimers’. There are thousands of us who have and are living this life without fame, without the finances, without the help that is given to caregivers.  We live without recognition but  live with compassion, dignity and love, caring for our loved ones. They deserve more recognition than those in the public eye. They deserve all the assistance needed in caring for someone every hour of the day. There are families who depend on Meals on Wheels, need scholarship programs to participate in adult care, have no health insurance, can’t afford professional caregivers, but their humanity of knowing what it means to care for someone with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia and illness is constant behind the scenes, behind cameras.  We are insulting the caregivers who are not Dr Oz or any of the public figures. I have worked with caregivers for over 20 years since my mother’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis and I hope we do not forget families who live outside the public eye. Why aren’t they the breaking news of the day? I sympathize with Dr. Oz’s mother but I applaud those who are the true heroes of our Alzheimer’s world.

Dr Oz, you are invited to join us at our monthly poetry writing support group for Caregivers at the Alzheimer’s Office in Sacramento.

Frances Kakugawa

Frances conducts workshops and lectures on helping caregivers give care with compassion, dignity and love. Her books on caregiving are:

Mosaic Moon: Caregiving Through Poetry

I Am Somebody: Bringing Dignity and Compassion to Alzheimer’s Caregiving

Breaking the Silence: A Caregiver’s Voice

Wordsworth Dances the Waltz: an illustrated book for children on memory loss

Her Dear Frances advice column for caregivers appears monthly in the Hawaii Herald

 

 

 

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Eh Auntie

If ever you’ve been called old or elderly by the young, there is something precious awaiting you in Hawaii. If you’re lucky, a young local man or woman will address you as “Eh, Auntie.” To be called “Eh, Auntie” takes a lifetime of processing to truly understand its underlying gift.

Remember the horror of being offered senior discounts when you were still in your 40’s or 50’s? I remember feeling such indignities when teenagers called me “Ma’am” in Michigan when I was still in my 30’s, not realizing it was an address of respect.  Kindergarteners used to call me “Mommy” by mistake  when I first started out as a teacher. That was fine until “Mommy” gradually turned into “Grandma.” Students are that special breed of people who forever keep you young. A sixth grader told me, “Please don’t wear that, you look like my grandma,’ pointing to the pair of eye glasses hanging around my neck. I quickly put my glasses on my head without the strap. When you’re young by numbers, you tend to fall and be captured  into the Culture of Youth.

Recently in Hawaii,  I was returning my shopping cart to the market when a young local man called, “Eh, Auntie, I’ll take that for you.” And he returned the cart for me. Once at Honolulu airport, a local man stopped me from getting a luggage cart with, “Eh Auntie, save your money. Here, use my cart.” He helped to load my luggage on to my cart. Once again, at the busy Honolulu airport, I stood in the way of someone wheeling a customer for early boarding. She whispered to me from the back, “Auntie, excuse me, can you let us pass? Mahalo, Auntie.” “Auntie” turned her request into such a gentle one. A friend in Hilo shared the following: She took a car load of trash to the local rubbish dump. A local man approached her with, “Eh Aunty, leave ‘um, I’ll take care of that for you,” and he unloaded her trunk of all the trash. When she thanked him, he nonchalantly explained, ‘No worry, Auntie. We take care of our elders.”

For the first time, “Eh Auntie” came to mean what it has always meant in Hawaii, the true Aloha spirit, genuine, untouched, unsophisticated, and real.  Each time someone approaches me with “Eh , Auntie,”  I know I am being cared for, recognized as someone who may need someone’s hand, am part of humanity and more than anything else, I have returned home to the islands.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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At the post office, an elderly man with a cane and I approached the door at the same time and I opened the door for him. He thanked me, put his back against the door and let me in first. I thanked him. Yes, ladies first.

Leaving the post office, a young man tried to enter as I was leaving. He  opened the door and entered, closing the door into my face.

Walking into the Alzheimer’s Office, I saw a caregiver and an elderly man with a cane coming out of the office. I opened the door and the caregiver walked out. The elderly man exchanged looks with me and I got his message. He held the door open for me, a bit unsteady on his feet,  and I walked in, thanking him. Yes, ladies first. I saw his caregiver waiting by her car.

After a business lunch in Hawaii, my host walked me to the car and opened the door for me. I told him,  “I can’t remember the last time someone opened a car door for me.”  When I was in high school, I asked one of the boys to open the door and he said, “What? You cripple?” But we forgive boys in high schools, don’t we?

We speak in fear of what the electronic world is doing to humanity and how invisible we are becoming.  Are these men I mention the last disappearing act?

 

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(My  advice column for caregivers called Dear Frances that appears monthly in the Hawaii Herald was written by Wordsworth, my little mouse poet this month.)

 

June 2019 Dear Frances,

Dear Readers,

Frances is away from her desk, giving lectures and book talks in Hawaii so I volunteered to do the column. I’m Wordsworth the mouse poet from four of her children’s books. At  first she was skeptical until I reminded her that  in all of my  books, I resolve human problems through poetry just like her. So please stay and read my column.

I’m still dancing the waltz after Patrick Toal, Director of the Alzheimer’s Association in Hawaii made me a mascot. My job is to visit schools and libraries to teach our younger generation about memory loss and how to live with our elders with compassion, dignity and respect.

We already visited libraries in Kohala and Hilo and will be flying to Maui and Molokai soon. If you want us to visit you, please call your Alzheimer’s Office or get in touch with Frances.  I would like to visit schools.

Frances and I did some work with students from Kindergarten to Middle School in Honolulu and will share some of their poems.

But first, let me brag a bit. I was in the Merrie Monarch parade in Hilo. I think I saw some of you waving to me. At first I felt a bit insulted when children began to shout Chucky Cheese at me. Luckily, Patrick Toal,  showed them my name and for the rest of the parade, I heard “Wordsworth! Wordsworth!”  What a relief.  Have you had someone call you by the wrong name?  Not good.  Hey Frances, have you ever been in a parade?

Here, I’m dancing with waltz as I did with Grandma in my book.

 

WW dancing 2

 

The children we visited are wonderful. They draw pictures, write poems,  play games and talk story about their grand or great – grand parents. They are preserving so many good memories. Some of the children are confused about the changes that happen after their grand or great-grandparents get dementia. That’s where I come in and show them what is really happening. Once they understand what dementia does to our brains, they are less confused and fearful. But you know all about this and why it’s important that we don’t isolate children from our loved  ones no matter what stages of dementia are at hand.  If they are given  truthful information, they are able to handle ailments and changes.  And you’ll be surprised how aware they are of our elders.

I like the story of a young mother who said her two pre-school children are like me and are teaching her how to be a better caregiver. After they heard my Wordsworth Dances the Waltz, they told their mother, “Why do you talk so mean to grandma?” Wow. Their mother said she respected her children and they have become her teachers. She told them, “You are like Wordsworth, keep reminding me when I talk mean.”

Another mother shared how her two young grandsons taught her how to hang loose and laugh instead of getting so stressed out. When their grandpa wore his pants inside out, their grandma began to get stressed and upset because it meant more work for her. Before she could change her husband’s pants, she heard her grandsons and husband laughing. Her grandsons had told Grandpa, “Hey Grandpa, you made new fashion.” And they all laughed and let Grandpa wear his new inside out pants.

Sometimes, our young children know exactly what to say and do so we need to leave them alone and let them become our teachers.

Here are some poems written by  6th  and 3rd graders when Frances was their teacher. I left their names out to protect their privacy. Please note how aging, dying and death claim their thoughts a lot and how poetry helps to express them. Too often we try to be silent in these areas, thinking we need to protect our children but listen to them here. Except for the last poem, they were written by sixth graders.

Grandma

 

Grandma is a beautiful name.

I know she didn’t go to hell.

I know she went to heaven.

My grandma, a humming bird on a branch.

 

***

 

My Grandfather

 

I don’t know why God wants to take him someday.

He’s not old, he’s not young.

But he’s been good to me.

Please God, don’t let him die.

 

I don’t know why

We are born

If  we are going to die.

 

 

***

 

Aging

 

An old woman sits by the fire.

Quietly she drapes her old tattered shawl

Across her shoulders.

A drop of rain lands on her cheek,

Like a tear.

 

An old tired work horse

Limps to the barn.

Then a young excited horse

Trots to the plow.

Soon he, too, will limp.

***

 

My Grandmother

 

While I think of my grandmother

Lying dead in a coffin

Under the ground,

I feel a tear drop on my arm.

Why did she have to die?

I love her.

I didn’t even get to say

Good-bye.

 

 

***

 

My Grandmother

 

My grandmother is like

A stale piece of bread,

I feel sorry for her

Now that she’s almost dead.

 

As she limps down the dark road,

She looks wrinkled and so old.

I wish my grandma was young again,

Like a freshly baked loaf of bread.

 

 

***

( When Geof wrote this, he shocked himself and put his head down on his desk and kept saying, “Miss Kakugawa, Miss Kakugawa, this is so bad. Oh, this is so bad. I said my grandma’s like a loaf of stale bread. I can’t believe I said this.” After Frances  read the poem, and  told him, “This is beautiful. This is what poets do, using metaphors as you did  with the loaf of bread,.” he was pleased to know he had written a good poem and allowed it to be published.)
****

Photographs

 

bring back memories

more and more each time.

if they are of grandpa

I look at them and cry.

I see his light blue coffin

going

down

into

the

ground.

 

 

***

 

Old Bird

 

The old bird sits there

Ready and willing to die,

Weeping with its last song.

 

***

This last poem was written by a third grader:

Memory

 

Oh, sadness comes to me.

I feel like a puzzle being apart

Into a hundred pieces.

Sadness of a memory

That I don’t have.

I don’t have the memory

Of my grandfather.

He was gone

Before my mother was born.

I wonder…

 

If he were here,

Would he take me out

To From the Heart

And buy me erasers?

Would we talk together

And have a good time?

I wonder what name

I would call him.

 

 

3rd grade

 

***

 

This was enjoyable, doing the column for Frances.  You can send me comments and questions through Frances or directly to me.

 

I have my own email address: wordsworth@bookshawaii.net

You can also check me out at my own FaceBook. https://www.facebook.com/WordsworthThePoet/

Maybe if you fill my mailbox with letters and questions, this column will be called Dear Wordsworth. Oh, oh, hope Frances doesn’t read this.

By the way, do you know how she sent me from Sacramento to Hawaii? In a Fed EX box!  My head was all squished. I hope after all this work I’m doing for her, my trips to Maui and Molokai will be on first class. Maybe you can suggest this to her?

Aloha, readers.

Wordsworth the Poet

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Registration is requested. We cancelled the last session due to lack of interest and later discovered, many didn’t register. Numbers are needed for room set up and hand-outs.Sac flyer 2019

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Please pass the following info to caregivers, health professionals or family members living with elders.

Phone reservations necessary for these two free events.

I will also be at Native Books in Honolulu to discuss my children’s books at their Tea and

Talk Story on May 19 from 11 to noon.

 

final hilo flyerSac flyer 2019

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