Kupuna expo highlights resources on Kauai

The Garden Island The Garden Island
November 7, 2010 11:45 pm

The Garden Island Humberto Blanco of the Alzheimer’s Association (seated center), Dave Walker of the American Heart Association (standing right), Michael Ratcliffe of the Seniors’ Law Program, seated far right, and Jan Pascua, volunteering for the county’s Office of Elderly Affairs, were just some of the many faces welcoming people to the first-ever Kupuna Expo hosted by Hale Kupuna Heritage Home, Friday.

LIHU‘E — There should have been an event like this 10 years ago, said Kahu James Fung of the Lihu‘e Christian Church, Friday.

Facing caregiving issues for aging parents, the pastor said he was previously unaware of the resources that were available.

“This is wonderful,” Fung said during the opening blessing of the first-ever “Caring for our Kupuna” expo sponsored by Hale Kupuna Heritage Home. “To be able to put a face and hear a human voice to one’s concern just opens doors and builds bridges.”

Among the vendors hosting exhibits and distributing information, Humberto Blanco of the Alzheimer’s Association’s Kaua‘i Chapter said he is working on “What Now?” training for people who are faced with providing care for patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

Coming off a successful Memory Walk in October, November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Month.

The Alzheimer’s Association states that every 70 seconds someone in America develops Alzheimer’s, and by mid-century someone will develop the disease every 33 seconds.

Jan Pascua, doing volunteer work for the county Office of Elderly Affairs via the “Better Choices, Better Health” senior workshops, was chatting with Lise and Jerry Reese of Kalaheo, who recently completed the “Chronic Disease Self-Management Program.”

“We were part of the first class offered,” Lise Reese said. “It was so wonderful I didn’t want it to end. … What surprised us is we got a phone call to ask us how we were doing after the class ended.”

Pascua said the instructors are all volunteers.

The program is for people living with any ongoing health problem or chronic disease, including diabetes, asthma, heart disease, stroke, arthritis, cancer, high blood pressure, being overweight, fibromyalgia, and others.

These workshops are being offered to seniors 60 years and older and their caregivers.

“The ‘Better Choices, Better Health’ program has enhanced the lives of so many Kaua‘i kupuna,” said Kealoha Takahashi, executive for the Agency on Elderly Affairs, in a news release. “I strongly encourage seniors who haven’t taken the workshop to sign up for it.”

Other vendors included the host Hale Kupuna Heritage Home; Hawai‘i Health Professionals; Dave Walker, offering cardiopulmonary resuscitation and first aid training; Home Infusion Associates; Seniors’ Law Program; Kaua‘i Hospice; Gammie Homecare; Nursefinders; Halo Monitoring and others.

Kupuna from the Kalaheo Senior Center provided live entertainment, punctuated by hula from its various members, and the staff of ‘Ohana Pacific Management and Garden Island Health Care filled the area normally occupied by the Kaua‘i Adult Day Health Center.

“Having this many people here for the first event is great,” Fung said. “As more and more people hear about this, this is going to be even bigger next year.”