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Helping to Strengthen the Loving Bonds of ‘Ohana

By Office of Communication Services    Published on 01/19/2010 More stories >>

Pamela Kutara and Lori Yancura

Pamela Chow and Lori Yancura at the Hawaii Caregiver's Conference. (Photo: Michael Cheang)

In Hawai‘i, strong family ties play an essential role in people’s health and well-being, but they are sometimes tested when round-the-clock caregiving becomes necessary. According to the National Family Caregivers’ Alliance, in our state more than 100,000 family members take care of older relatives. Grandparents raising grandchildren (GRGs) are also very common in Hawai‘i. The 2000 U.S. Census of the Islands found over 14,000 grandparents with sole responsibility for raising their grandchildren.

In 2008, in response to the growing number of caregivers in Hawai‘i, CTAHR’s Family and Consumer Sciences assistant professor Lori Yancura developed an outreach project called ‘Ohana Caregivers. Project members conduct research on and provide education to all types of family caregivers throughout the state, with the goal of improving their health, circumstances, and quality of life.

One of the projects, for example, resulted in two brochures conveying information on how to manage stress, cope with additions to the family, understand children’s problem behaviors, and locate community resources. This is particularly useful information for GRGs, who may face challenges such as dealing with their grandkeiki’s emotional and behavioral problems, overcoming financial difficulties, and negotiating the legal entanglements associated with seeking and maintaining custody. In December 2011, ‘Ohana Caregivers received an award from the Elderhood Project in recognition of the important support they provide to GRGs.

Another project for caregivers of older adults was funded by the Senior Medical Patrol program (formerly SageWatch), under the auspices of the Hawai‘i Department of Health’s Executive Office on Aging. Co-investigators Yancura and Pamela Chow, FCS extension educator, used an intergenerational approach to plan, develop, and disseminate educational materials to help family caregivers recognize and prevent health-care fraud, waste, and abuse. A series of five educational videos was created, aired on ‘Olelo television, and disseminated as DVDs.

More information on ‘Ohana Caregivers projects and resources is available online at www.hawaii.edu/ohanacaregivers.