Frances H. Kakugawa
Hawai‘i Herald Columnist

Omoiyari . . . Think of others first and good karma will return to you. — Frances H. Kakugawa

Dear Readers,

Here are a few more stories told by caregivers:

A few weeks ago, Mary’s husband Bob was strapped in his wheelchair in a hospital when a nurse came to transport him to his bed. He began to yell, “You’re hurting me.” The nurse immediately called the security office. Two guards appeared and tried to lift him.

Mary stopped them both and said, “Stand back. Do not touch my husband.” She stood between Bob and the guards. Then she quietly asked Bob, who loves to sing, “Bob, would you like to sing a song for them?” Bob belted out, in perfect pitch, a song from the ’60s. Feeling relaxed after finishing his song, he said, “I can go to the bed by myself,” and he did.

Caregiver Red has this story: His mother was hospitalized so he took some of her favorite foods for her. Security escorted Red out because he had sneaked in a weapon: a butter knife.

Two days ago, I accompanied a friend to the emergency room at the advice of his internist. We waited a total of seven hours, on a gurney in the hallway. After six hours, he decided to take a walk outdoors. Security was immediately called and there was a confrontation. “This is not a prison,” he told them. “Do not lay your hands on me.” It resulted in the nurse calling the police department.

Have our hospitals turned into a police state?

Dear Frances,

Last month, I was worried about my mother because of her screaming. I took your advice and told myself a different story — that she was feeling good. Her screaming was not about me: Maybe others sing; you write poems, and my mother screams. The other day, she was screaming in the car, so I joined her and I screamed along with her. My husband and I ended up laughing and my mother stopped and began to blow bubble spit. I also took that as a positive reaction. She was not spitting at me!


Sacramento, Calif.

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Frances Kakugawa was her mother’s primary caregiver during her five-year journey with Alzheimer’s disease. A native of Kapoho on Hawai‘i island, she now lives in Sacramento. Frances has melded her professional training as a writer and educator and her personal caregiving experiences to write several books on caring for people with memory-related illnesses. She is a sought-after speaker, both in Hawai‘i and on the Mainland, sharing strategies for caregiving, as well as coping with the stresses of caregiving.


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