When Nancy took on full time caregiving for her late parents, Frank and Marian, there were many elements to the role that she and her family were not prepared for. Little did Nancy know that the Iyashi Care team would provide her and both of her parents with invaluable support as they faced various challenges and changes throughout their journey.

From One Fall to Reaching out for Help

Marian faced a long list of medical challenges in her life, which included carpal tunnel in both hands, a torn rotator cuff, gallbladder surgery, brain surgery to remove a tumor, back surgery, and more. When it came to Marian’s medical challenges, Nancy said that every time she came down with something, she would always bounce right back up. “She was amazing. She just healed and was such a strong physical person, a fighter.”

A pivotal moment for Marian’s health was when she fell and hit her head on the floor. Over the next few months, Marian began to experience the effects of her head trauma, and the family saw a gradual change in her behavior. “It was just tiring and frustrating, and you couldn’t reason with her. She was just a different person at that point,” Nancy said. That’s when she decided to reach out for extra support.

Positive Changes with Iyashi Care

Nancy first heard about Iyashi Care during a caregiver group meeting at her church. After the initial call with the Iyashi Care social worker, Marian was enrolled as a patient, and eventually Frank enrolled as well.

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Over a couple of years on the program, their family took advantage of the various services that Iyashi Care offered. Nancy particularly highlighted the ability of the Iyashi Care team to help with prescribing Marian and Frank’s medications in an efficient manner. While a small task, Nancy noted that being able to pick up prescriptions within a reasonable amount of time and having them delivered made a huge difference as a caregiver. 

Dr. Yuichi Edwin Yanami would also meet with both Marian and Frank together every few months at their home. Nancy greatly appreciated the ability to have appointments in the comfort of their home. This was also beneficial to Nancy when she eventually could not physically lift her mother into the car. She shared, “I liked the fact that we didn’t have to go somewhere, and I didn’t have to be driving around all over.”

man and woman each holding a dog

Outside of their regularly scheduled visits, Nancy felt supported throughout the whole process as a caregiver. The 24/7 call line was especially helpful for her. She noted that she would have their phone number in her purse at all times and could call the team whenever she had a question. Iyashi Care would also regularly call Nancy to check in on her specifically. “I appreciated their calls so much. There were a few times [the Iyashi Care team] called me, and I was just waterworks… They’re just so compassionate and understanding.”

One of the things Nancy appreciated the most was that since she and her parents got to know Dr. Yanami and the team over the years, she felt comfortable confiding in the team and asking them difficult questions. Once Marian and Frank’s conditions declined, Dr. Yanami helped Marian, and subsequently Frank, transition from palliative care to hospice, and they both were able to pass peacefully at home.

Evolving Perspective as a Caregiver

woman holding a dog while sitting in front of a tree

With all the services that Iyashi Care provided, Nancy experienced a drastic shift in the way she viewed her caregiving experience and was better able to physically and emotionally care for herself as well as her parents. The Iyashi Care team provided her with regular emotional support and validation of her efforts, challenges, and worries. As a result, Nancy makes sure to take care of herself by taking a trip to Hawai’i every now and then to recharge. She also had a part time caregiver come to help care for her father, which gave Nancy time to run errands.

Guilt was a common emotion that Nancy felt throughout her caregiving journey, but the Iyashi Care team let her know that caregivers are doing the best that they can. Nancy shared that when her mother was admitted to a care facility, she felt like she was breaking the promise she made to be there for her no matter what. But by talking to the team, she realized that was not the case. “Dr. Yanami understood that mom’s case was more difficult than my dad’s. But then there was that guilt of not fulfilling the promise that I made her. I felt so bad, but [Dr. Yanami] reassured me that I was doing the right thing, because I still had dad too [at home]. So that was so reassuring for me.”

Spreading the Peace of Mind to the Community and Beyond

Nancy wanted to share with others about how these services benefitted her family and how it ultimately improved the quality of life for her and both her parents.

Nancy has been talking to her 91-year-old uncle about palliative care with the hope that he will take the step to enroll. Additionally, she shared with her best friend about Iyashi Care. With her friend’s father’s declining health, the program helped support her family as well.

In April 2023, Nancy gave a presentation to members of SoPhis, a local women’s philanthropic organization that she is a part of. She was joined by Dr. Yanami and Dr. Glen Komatsu, the two lead physicians, where she shared her experience with Iyashi Care.

“I’m very thankful to have heard about it when I did,” Nancy said. “The Iyashi Care team was alongside us every step of the way and provided for our every need with love and compassion.”

For additional information about Iyashi Care or to enroll, please contact 213.873.5791 or [email protected].