Makiki, HAWAII - Being a caregiver is a tough job. The Alzheimer's Association estimates there are 29 thousand people living with Alzheimer's in our community, and it more than double that number of caregivers to help them. A Honolulu nonprofit is offering new programs to help make life less stressful. 

There are about 65,000 people in Hawaii, taking care of people with Alzheimer's Disease, according to The Alzheimer's Association. Judy Taketa is one of them. Her mom is 94-years-old. Taketa describes a caregiver's stress. "[You have to] watch the person, do the shopping, run around, take them to the doctor's, cook for them, make sure they take their medication, that they're clean."

On top of that, there are the memory issues. "It's frustrating. We think, 'You should know better,' and really, she doesn't," Taketa adds. "If you have to take care of yourself, and now another person, and you don't understand what's going on, it makes it that much harder."

Catholic Charities Hawai'i wants to help. It's using a three-year, $1-million dollar federal grant from the Administration for Community Living/Administration on Aging (ACL) Alzheimer’s Disease Program Initiative (ADPI) to offer free programs, all with the same goal. "It's meant to provide support for caregivers to help them cope, relieve stress, teach them how to deal with dementia behaviors," outlines Diane Terada, division administrator for the Community & Senior Services Division of Catholic Charities Hawai'i.

One of the more unusual programs Catholic Charities Hawai'i is offering is a free one-on-one training program for caregivers working with patients of dementia who are still living at home. Terada says there's not another free, customized training program like this in the state.

Terada says it takes more time and money to offer tailored classes, but it's worth it. She says more and more people are developing Alzheimer's. "It is a public health crisis. Part of it is our aging population; people getting older. The likelihood of it becoming a problem for someone living at home is greater," Terada predicts.

Caregivers are a critical part of the picture. "There are millions of dollars being saved because of family caregivers," she points out. "We have to support them whatever way we can."

Catholic Charities Hawai'i is also training groups like caregivers, medical workers, or senior centers. Terada says the need is growing there, too. "If you're 85 or older, you have a 50% chance of developing some form of dementia."

It's programs like these that aim to have both the caregivers - and their loved ones - Aging Well. To sign up for those programs, go to the Catholic Charities Hawaii webpage at https://www.catholiccharitieshawaii.org/dementia/.