An Outlet for our Kupuna and Caregivers

Jasmine Yukimura
Kauai Adult Day
Health Center
There is increasing evidence showing that leisure activities, such as mental and social activities, have beneficial effects on a variety of health outcomes, particularly for maintaining functional ability during the aging process and reducing the risk of common age-related chronic diseases. The National Institute of Health published a study that demonstrates using Skype software to increase social ties, which proved to enhance both physical and mental health in the elderly. It’s truly amazing that by using simple human connection and interaction, even on Skype, you can improve your state of well-being, at any age.

Born in Makaweli, Kauai, Haruno Souza, who goes by “Toni”, was once voted as the “Most Gregarious” in her high school year book. At the age of 97, she maintains her title at the Kauai Adult Day Health Center, socializing and “bossing people around”, as she puts it, during this interview. Toni worked at Tip Top Restaurant then Wilcox Hospital. She retired from Wilcox Hospital after 15 years of service as a house keeper. Toni talks about volunteering at the senior center in her later years, and is able to speak fluent Japanese. Toni says “I’m the type to talk” and I made friends here (at Kauai Adult Day Health Center). She goes on to say, my best advice is: Don’t stay home alone, there’s always a place to go.

Lichelle Iida is Toni’s primary caregiver and granddaughter. Lichelle says that she and her two daughters are grandma’s family here on Kauai. Lichelle recalls Grandma Toni taking care of her when her mom was at work. Lichelle would walk to Tip Top Restaurant after school to wait for Toni. Before moving in with Lichelle, Toni lived alone at Lihue Gardens. One day, during a doctor’s visit, the doctor recommended that Toni should not take her medication without supervision. Lichelle opened her home, and along with her daughters, took grandma in.

Since Toni started attending the center, her attitude changed and she looks forward to attending, even on the weekends!

Lichelle was referred to Kauai Adult Day Health Center by the Kauai County’s Agency on Elderly Affairs (hereinafter “Elderly Affairs”). Lichelle says that working with Elderly Affairs has really helped with caring for her grandmother. The Elderly Affairs helped Lichelle find the Adult Day Health Center and assisted in qualifying for financial assistance through the Kupuna Caregivers Program. Lichelle states that a caregiver used to come to their house to spend time with grandma, but grandma needed more. Since Toni started attending the center, her attitude changed and she looks forward to attending, even on the weekends! At the center, Toni is able, and is offered the opportunity, to live up to her title, “Most Gregarious”.

Toni has the opportunities to connect and interact with her peers. She is lively, spunky, and so independent. She receives compassionate care, socialization and friendships, but also reciprocates it freely from her heart, whether she knows it or not. Toni is a treasured kupuna and she and her family resonate success in aging in place on the island of Kauai.

Lichelle’s advice is to go to the Agency on Elderly Affairs so they can help you. Lichelle also says, “Don’t take it personal.” Grandma Toni says things, but Lichelle, takes it with a grain of salt. Life is better that way.