Saturday, July 19, 2003

Client Dorothy Sakai, left, kept limber yesterday as she exercised with her fellow seniors, led by Adult Day health aide Herman Salema, at the Leahi Hospital Adult Day Health Activity Room. In addition to exercises, the program provides meals, snacks and recreational, dietary and social services.

Center enhances
seniors’ lives

An expanded program at
Leahi Hospital offers activities
to help keep seniors at home

Leahi Hospital's Adult Day Health Center does a lot to help senior clients but especially "to make sure they have fun," says program director Grace Shiota.

"That's what makes my job so much enjoyable, to see them having fun, to have friends who remember them and can talk with them while here," she said. "The other choice is to stay home with one caregiver, watch TV or look at the same walls."

The center has 55 clients, ages 54 to 94, and openings for 20 more in an expanded program. A dedication ceremony and open house was held yesterday for clients, staff and volunteers.

The program provides assistance and activities to help keep seniors at home, out of hospitals and nursing facilities, while giving caregivers some respite.

The Rev. Lane Akiona, of St. Patrick's Church, blessed the expansion of the Leahi Hospital Adult Day Health Center yesterday.

Vincent Lee, hospital chief executive officer, said the goal is to take a more active role in the community. "This expansion provides us with an opportunity to offer our services to more seniors who require an ongoing support service for independent living with a minimum burden to family members or caregivers."

The center is open five days a week at a cost of $78 a day. The fee is not covered by Medicare, but some of it can be covered with long-term care insurance "because we follow doctor's orders and this is considered medical care," Shiota said. "This is what convinced me to get my own (long-term care) coverage."

The program provides meals and snacks; nursing, recreational, dietary and social services; therapeutic and rehabilitative therapy; and exercises.

Clients must be referred by a primary care physician as needing intermediate-level care -- assistance in one or two areas of daily living activities.

"We check blood pressure and weight, and monitor what they eat and whether they're losing or gaining weight," Shiota said. "We're able to supply all kinds of special diets."

She is one of two registered nurses in the program. It also has a licensed public nurse, an occupational therapy assistant and six adult day health aides.

Long involved with geriatric care professionally, as well as with her own parents and in-laws, Shiota said growing old "is really actually part of life, but we like to make sure they have a good time in later years. And I hope I'll be able to enjoy this kind of stuff, too. I'm aging myself.

"You hear stories of people wandering around in the yard with nothing to do after watering the plants. A lot of times, they are at risk for hurting themselves."

Shiota said the hospital would like to start opening the center on Saturdays but must work out arrangements with the unions because of a change in workdays.

Leahi Hospital, at 3675 Kilauea Ave., is operated by Hawaii Health Systems Corp. as one of 12 facilities in a state health-care system.


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