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Kupuna and Keiki Care

By Office of Communication Services    Published on 12/23/2013 More stories >>

Family caregiving is a growing concern—and CTAHR’s support is growing
with it.

Family caregiving is a growing concern—and CTAHR’s support is growing with it.

Extension agents are CTAHR’s “slippahs on the ground” in terms of bringing the research done in the College to the community. In the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences, three important extension initiatives are working to help Hawai‘i’s seniors and those who love them.

It’s a laudable and loving thing to do, but no one said beginning a second stint of childrearing at an advanced age was easy. In almost 3 percent of Hawai‘i households, grandparents are responsible for their grandchildren—nearly twice the national average. And for close to 10 years, the Maui-based Hi‘i Na Kupuna Coalition has been helping to make the lives of grandparents and other elder family members caring for their young relatives a little easier. This group, headed by Heather Greenwood and comprised of the grandparents themselves, and the professionals who work with them, focuses on learning about the caregivers’ needs and developing resources to support them. The coalition distributes a quarterly newsletter and hosts meetings and workshops on topics of interest to their members, including resiliency and lokahi.

‘Ohana Caregivers, headed by Lori Yancura, brings together family caregivers statewide on both ends of the lifespan— grandparents raising grandchildren and families caring for aging loved ones. Their website offers brochures and Extension publications focusing on understanding keiki behavior, dealing with addiction in the ‘ohana, caring for the caregiver, health care fraud, and much more. It also houses information from the integrated Research-Extension Hatch Project “Building Support for Family Caregivers in the Workplace.” This offers informational and skills-building workshops for these caregivers, including Stress Management for Caregivers, Resources in the Aging Network, and Understanding the Family Medical Leave Act.

Powerful Tools for Caregivers is a national educational program brought to Maui in 2009. Certified instructors teach 6-week courses that focus on providing family caregivers with the tools required to thrive, not just survive, during the caregiving experience. Topics include using stress-management strategies, practicing self-care to maintain health, using effective communication strategies, conducting family meetings, accessing community resources, and more. Professionals and volunteers from Maui, Moloka‘i, the Big Island, and O‘ahu have become certified class leaders, reaching over 250 family caregivers through the 6-week programs. Family caregiving is a growing concern—and CTAHR’s support is growing with it.