Frances H. Kakugawa
Hawai‘i Herald Columnist
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.
Omoiyari . . . Think of others first and good karma will return to you. — Frances H. Kakugawa
Thank you for the two book titles in your March column. I truly enjoyed reading about those books. I learned a lot even without reading the book. Thank you.
Thank you. Your feedback helps me with my column. I’ll be reviewing another book next month, so stay tuned.
I tried out your suggestion of getting a medical student as a live-in caregiver. This is what happened.
He liked my room and he was OK with the exchange of free room for about 30 hours [of work] per month. He did not have a car, but he could easily walk about 1 3/4 miles to light rail to get to Sacramento. There was one glitch, so I had to turn him down. He was willing to do everything that I asked, except he did not want to clean Fran if she pooped, even though he did it as a caregiver before. Except for this one issue, he would have been a good fit.
I spoke to the two people on his reference list and they gave him very high marks for being a very compassionate person and congenial. One nurse I talked to said doctors do not like to touch patients — they are trained to analyze and diagnose.
I felt he would be a better fit for Mary (another caregiver in our support group), so I gave her his contact information. I hope those two can find common ground.
In the meantime, I have interviewed another person. She is a young woman who works for Home Health and previously worked in a senior living home, so she has caregiving experience with seniors. She is definitely interested in my room and I feel very comfortable with her, plus she would be a better match than the med student. I just got through talking to three of her references and I am satisfied that she would work out. She is also interested in becoming an RN (registered nurse), but has yet to start formal training.
I hope that medical student is planning on becoming an optometrist! Sarcasm aside, since Mary’s husband is not incontinent, he might work out. I’m glad your story is having a happy ending.
Bob, I’m reading an excellent book by surgeon and public health journalist Atul Gawande titled “Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End” — I will discuss it in next month’s column. Please recommend this book to that young medical student. In fact, when you find a caregiver for Fran, Gawande’s book would be a must-read for that person, as well. If this book doesn’t humanize them, I don’t know what will.
I’m mortified by what the nurse told you about doctors not wanting to touch patients. I experienced that recently in a new doctor’s exam room. He sat in another chair and didn’t examine my very painful arm at all. All he said was that I needed to go to a sports medicine specialist, who did not have any openings for an appointment until two months later. The pain is now, I said, albeit to deaf ears.
I’m very grateful for our support group. Recently, my husband looked confused, didn’t respond and was unable to walk. I quickly thought “UTI,” (urinary tract infection) so I gave him water and later called the doctor, gave him the symptoms and asked for a prescription for antibiotics. We had discussed UTI symptoms so often in our support group that instead of panicking, I sort of self-diagnosed with the doctor, and I was right. Husband was back to his previous self in a few hours.
Thank you for your good words regarding support groups.
Here’s a suggestion: I always kept a supply of those urine specimen containers at home for my mother so I could easily send a urine specimen to the lab for analysis if the doctor needed one. It saved a lot of time.
Readers: The rest of this column is devoted to caregivers whose stories demonstrate so much wisdom and common sense.
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