Sakura House Volunteers - Generations Magazine - April - May 2012“Wow! Time flies! We will already have our third anniversary soon!?” Sakura House, which opened in 2009, is the only adult day care program that provides Japanese-English bilingual services in Hawai‘i.

As I get know Hawai‘i local people better, I noticed that they value ohana and respect kupuna like we, Japanese, do. It is natural for us to take care of our kupuna when they get older. When I discovered this cultural similarity, I was so happy and felt comfortable to be here in Hawai‘i.

My caregiving experience includes taking care of my parents, both of whom had terminal cancer. There was no doubt that I would take care of them. I felt happy to do so. It was an opportunity to show my gratitude to my parents who had raised me with their love. However, as the level of care got more demanding, I asked myself, Why can’t I do this for Dad with a smile? or How can I do this without scolding Mom? Eventually, I admitted, Oh no! This is much more difficult than I thought!

Taking care of loved ones … I still believe that it is a chance to repay them for caring for us. However, if you’re working, raising children or babysitting grandchildren, it can become an emotional, physical and financial burden. When you are unhappy, you’re unable to provide meaningful, quality care to others. I know this very well through my experience. We are human and nobody is perfect. It is very normal in these circumstances to need help. In the beginning, you or your loved may resist help from others. However, once you accept it, you will surely see and feel the rewards.

At the Sakura House, I ask my staff to be mindful of our purpose, remembering that it is our mission to take care of senior participants on behalf of their ohana. As such, we treat our seniors and their caregivers like an extended family.

We respect our seniors and offer culturally sensitive care. Perhaps even more importantly, we become friends with our participants and share good times and smiles.

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