Kupuna Transitions

I utilize this column to discuss various ways to cope with some of the adjustments that maturity and caregiving can require in our lives. It is an honor to reach different members of our community through various lessons and insights learned.

This month, I am reaching out to those of you who may feel isolated by a diagnosis in your life or the life of someone you love, as well as the general public who may not be experiencing that particular challenge. I am addressing a subject that I feel passionate about and apologize if it feels at all like a sales pitch.

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There are a number of fundraising events supporting causes, such as cancer, diabetes, arthritis and so on, that you may have considered participating in, but it may not have felt relevant or necessary. It is also possible that you are in the midst of that particular storm, and may feel overwhelmed.

In whatever way you may or may not be affected by the causes that hold fundraising walks or other events, please consider becoming involved any way you can. Whether it’s spreading the word, offering to pitch in on the volunteer side of things or contributing a small donation, every action we make towards these larger causes can have a ripple effect that we can’t possibly fully understand.

I believe that opportunities to feel helpful actually help us as well by lifting our spirits and building on that extra sense of purpose in our life experience that expands beyond ourselves. Each person who contributes can create a magnetic attraction that leads to greater support for those challenged by the source of the charity than was there before.

I personally enjoy assisting with the annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s, as my career in the aging field has shown me the great need for support towards those affected by the disease. As our island has recently seen, this disease can impact an entire community when someone goes missing. On a more intimate scale, families are challenged emotionally, financially and physically on a daily basis when caring for someone with the symptoms of disorientation, paranoia and a sense of slipping away, to name a few.

At 8 a.m. this Saturday, a group of Hawaii Island community members will join me at the Old Airport in Kona to show their support for the fight against Alzheimer’s disease. This walk not only raises funds for research, but also builds a sense of community among those from different aspects of the battle.

We have a new Big Island coordinator who has replaced our longtime Alzheimer’s guru, Chris Ridley, and Patrick Toal wishes to become a support to those of you out there who need an experienced touchstone. I recommend that anyone in this battle come and feel supported by others who are going through similar things.

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If you have been through this, you well know that it can feel rather depressive when battling a chronic illness, primarily because it often coincides with pulling out of regular social interaction. It is common for people to feel as though their world has shrunk to the goings on within the care environment.

Please consider taking the step out of the struggle bubble and opening yourself up to the caring arms of your local community. We are out there because we care about you or someone you know. Let’s make a difference, one step at a time.