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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, September 6, 2003

Conference to offer support for caregivers

By Robbie Dingeman
Advertiser Health Writer

Retired nurse Elizabeth Ho isn't surprised that she will be among 700 caregivers signed up for a conference today designed to help the helpers — those who care for family and friends in their homes and neighborhoods.


Today's conference is sold out, but the city's Elderly Affairs Division offers these resources for caregivers:

• Senior Hotline, 523-4545 weekdays from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

• Web site, www.elderlyaffairs.com

Ho takes care of her frail but mentally sharp 92-year-old mother, Maisie Ho, at their rented home in Liliha. She also belongs to a support group for other caregivers.

"Caring for Family, Caring for Yourself" is sponsored by AARP Hawaii, Alu Like Inc., HMSA and the city's elderly affairs division. Another 300 people are signed up for Neighbor Island sessions planned next week.

"This is a growing problem with longevity," Ho said. "When you're growing up, you never think you're going to end up as a caregiver. Nobody ever thought that they'd be doing this."

The city's county executive on aging, Karen Miyake, said the conference is designed to provide practical tips and resources for those caring for a family member or friends. It targets family and informal unpaid caregivers, although a few paid caregivers have signed up.

Miyake said the sold-out conference helps underscore the growing need for caregivers, especially with Hawai'i's aging population.

Jackie McCarter, associate state director of AARP, said that nationwide one in four households is involved in caring for someone age 50 or over and Hawai'i's statistics are believed to be even higher because of a cultural emphasis on family.

Marina Tagatac, 56, works at the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani Hotel as a housekeeper. Normally, she wakes at 4 a.m. to help care for her 88-year-old mother and her mother's 93-year-old husband. She catches the bus to work but is currently on disability, expected back to work later this month.

Tagatac said her youngest child, her 17-year-old son, Dennis, "helps a lot." But she said she looks forward to the conference to find practical advice on ways to improve life for all of her family.

Miyake said the conference assists with tips on lifting and back care, preparing easy nutritious meals and dealing with stress as well as legal issues. Much of the message is reminding caregivers to take care of themselves. "If they don't, they will burn out."

Reach Robbie Dingeman at rdingeman@honoluluadvertiser.com or 535-2429.