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In Good Hands

First adult day care center opening on Molokai.

It’s not always easy to care for the elderly. It can be a demanding, stressful and sometimes overwhelming task. But now, with an adult day care center opening at Home Pumehana in August, caretakers on Molokai can breathe a sigh of relief.

Ten years after the idea was first hatched, the Na Pu`uwai Native Hawaiian Health Care System, in partnership with Acradia Elder Care Services, will be opening The Senior Enrichment Center – a potential lifeline for many Molokai families.

“There has been a great need in the community [for an adult day care center] for so long,” said Judy Mikami, Na Pu`uwai’s long-term care director.

The adult day care center, which recently received its license from the state on June 15, is intended to allow seniors the opportunity to engage in stimulating activity, make new friends and still be independent.

From 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on weekdays, the center will provide its kupuna with an array of activities designed to maintain cognitive and motor skills that sometimes decline with advanced aging. Mikami said there will be hands-on crafts, hula and ukulele classes, a modified Zumba class, karaoke machine, TV and Wii game console.

William Akutagawa, executive director of Na Pu`uwai, said their staff is certified in water safety and will not only take their clients swimming, but also on field trips twice a month.

“They’ll get to go off-site, get fresh air, and visit different places on Molokai,” Akutagawa said.

The center, situated in an 800 sq. ft. room near the back of Home Pumehana, will provide breakfast, lunch, and snacks, as well as reclining chairs for clients to rest in. Three staff members will be onsite – two certified nurses and an activities director.

“It will be socially therapeutic for our kupuna,” said Activities Director Jossette Mawae-Mollena. “On Molokai, a lot of families take care of their own, but they need to get out, so it will be good for caretakers, too.”

Worth the Wait

Good things take time. Such was the case for Mikami and Akutagawa, who applied to get licensed back in September 2009.

“It went back and forth with Maui County and the state for awhile,” Mikami explained. “We would receive recommendations and then have to go back and make changes to comply with the requirements.”

After a grueling nine-month process, the license was secured. But that wasn’t their only dilemma. Finding the right site posed another setback. After spending time weighing their options, the directors settled on senior living complex Home Pumehana, which had to be inspected twice by the Department of Human Services, as a suitable host facility.

Mikami said they chose Home Pumehana because of its centralized location and existing affiliation with senior citizens.

While other entities on Molokai have failed in establishing an adult day care within the last 10 years, Mikami attributes Na Pu`uwai’s success to its long-standing relationship with Acradia Elder Care Services.

Arcadia, a senior living program in Honolulu, helped train the Na Pu`uwai staff in long-term care services, who also received hands-on practice.

“They gave us the support we needed,” Mikami said.

The 411

The Senior Enrichment Center is currently accepting applications for interested kupuna, but it does have criteria. The program requires that clients be 62 years of age or older, be able to use the bathroom without assistance, feed themselves, and administer their own medications among other things. They are currently accepting up to 12 clients.

Prices will vary based on a sliding scale, with flat rate fees starting at $66 dollars a day, according to Mawae-Mollena.

While the program may start off small, Mikami hopes to see it grow in a big way.

“Our ultimate goal is to establish long-term care,” Mikami said. “But we’re taking it one step at a time.”

For more information or to apply, call the Senior Enrichment Center at 553-5099.

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