Caregiving taught HMSA board member Lisa Okimoto a valuable life lesson.
Lisa Therese Okimoto
When Lisa Okimoto's
father developed skin cancer at age 89, she
did not hesitate to help take care of him.
"I'm not sure how many people are prepared to be caregivers," says Okimoto
"No one told me to take the lead in caring for my dad, even if I'm the eldest daughter.
I just did what was in my heart."
sister would take turns driving him to doctor appointments and radiology treatments.
Because the cancer was on his
dad lost partial vision and couldn't swallow solid foods.
would get up early in the morning to make his
liquid meals for the day before leaving for work, cared for him when she'd come home from work, checked on him at night, and monitored his
medication and pain.
"When you're a caregiver, you dig deep inside to find ways to give more than you think you're capable of," says Okimoto
"You find the time when you need to care for a loved one."
condition worsened and she
could no longer care for him at home
entered a hospice at the Spark M. Matsunaga Center for Aging
Despite the demands of her job as managing director for Resources Global Professionals' Hawai'i office, Okimoto looked forward to visiting him after work and on weekends.
"Hospice caregivers are amazing people with hearts of angels," she
father died in November 2007 at age 92.
Despite the sadness, Okimoto
is comforted knowing they shared good times until the very end.
And although she
gave up much of her
personal time to care for her
will cherish the moments they had together.
"Just before he
died, my sister and I were at his
side holding his
hand, and he
told us that he
was so happy.
That's the best way to go - to still be happy even in the last hours of your life.
It taught me a valuable life lesson to always be thankful for what we have, especially our loved ones," she
Since those years of caring for her
has developed an interest in elderly care issues, particularly how society will pay for quality medical care for our rapidly aging population.
Being on HMSA's board of directors serves as a perfect vehicle for her to concentrate on those issues.
Originally from Gardena, Calif., Okimoto was transferred to Hawai'i in 2002 to head the local office for Resources Global Professionals, a multinational professional service firm.
This was also an opportunity to bring her
dad to Hawai'i so they could be closer to her
sister, who had earlier moved to the Islands.
has made a smooth transition into the Hawai'i lifestyle.
enjoyed learning how to surf and canoe paddle.
On the weekends, she
heads to Ala Moana Beach Park to run, swim or catch waves with friends.
likes Hawai'i's unique culture, especially getting Asian foods anywhere, anytime.
"You can even get a musubi on the golf course.
I love the cultural diversity here," says Okimoto
, who's Japanese and Caucasian.