DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Theresa Basta, day center program director, hugged Soroptimist member Helen Richarson on Saturday as Soroptimist members staffed the Franciscan Adult Day Center in Manoa so family caregivers could have a day to relax.
Senior center gives kin a free Saturday of care
The facility in Manoa provides a break to those watching elders
Caregivers Eva Ardo and her husband, Cline, and Myron Tong and his wife, Myrna, received a special gift: a Saturday free of caregiving thanks to the Franciscan Adult Day Center in Manoa, 12 to 20 Soroptimist members and some staff as volunteers.
The Ardos ran errands while her father, Richard Hosaka, 89, enjoyed activities at the center. "We didn't have to worry about who was going to be home to get the lunch. ... It was like a free thing for us," she said.
The Tongs did some shopping without taking his 96-year-old father, Leland, in his wheelchair. Myrna also helps care for a 20-month-old grandson, and "it's too hard to manage him and the baby," Tong said.
When Soroptomists from four Oahu clubs approached St. Francis about a one-day "Saturday of Service" project with seniors, they did not think about it as a service for caregivers, said Judy Lee, director of Soroptimist District VI, including Hawaii and Guam. The center is closed on Saturdays.
But later, "one of the members said, 'You don't realize how important that is.' She filled us in how nice that would be, because she is a caregiver," Lee said.
Theresa Basta, the day center program director, said they might consider opening on Saturdays again, possibly once a month, because there is such a need to give caregivers a break.
The adult day center at 2715 Pamoa Road is an outreach program of the Sisters of St. Francis and St. Francis Healthcare System of Hawaii. It is licensed for 35 adults and open weekdays from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Ardo, a computer programmer, said she and her husband, a mechanical engineer, tore down her parents' old home in Manoa in 1990 and built a bigger one for both families.
"Mom and Dad helped with our children, and now it's going the opposite way."
Her father started at the day center in January, but her mother, 86, remains home. Her aunt, Gertrude Kuboyama, 88, also goes to the center and "that was a big help," she said. "He really looks forward to going."
She said her father has an impaired memory but that after a day at the center, "he's much more alert. He's happier. He started reading the paper and books. It's amazing. I think he's changed a lot for the better. "What I like about the center is they treat us like family. It's a small-home-type atmosphere."
Tong, administrator of the St. Francis Healthcare Foundation, said his father has been living with him since his mother, Aileen, died in 2001. His father was her primary caregiver.
Until 2005-2006 his father was "in excellent health," Tong said. He would catch the bus, go to the shopping center, do banking and go to Chinatown.
Then his father fractured his hip July 4, 2006, Tong said. He recovered well from that but could not be left alone. Myrna was then helping to care for a 3-month-old grandson, Tong said, so they began taking his father to the day care center in October 2006.
He broke his other hip last Thanksgiving and was in the hospital for two months, including rehabilitation. So normally, if he and his wife shop on weekends, he said, they roll up his father's wheelchair and take him with them.
Tong said he tries to golf on the weekend and looks for someone to sit with his father. "I think he's a fall risk."
He believes many caregivers could use half a day or a whole day free of caregiving on weekends and said Pamela Witty Oakland, administrator of the Franciscan Day Care Program, is looking into that.