2019 Caregiver of the Year | West Region

Ann Okahara

West Region

Honolulu, HI Office

"Good morning, Tony!" Ann Okahara's simple, happy start to the day means much more to her clients family than a simple greeting. It signifies a change in Tony's life – one marked by routines, structure, compassion, and patience. It’s a change that has reverberated throughout the family. “Six years ago, I felt guilty that my parents had to hire ‘strangers’ to provide care for my father,” says Tony’s daughter, Lilian K. “Today, the only slight guilt I feel is that Ann is taking better care of my father than I am! Thanks to Ann and everything that she does—always with a big genuine smile on her face—I am a better daughter, a better mother, a better wife, a better person."
 

Ann Okahara received five nomination letters. Below are excerpts from each:

Nomination Letters

Written by Lilian K., daughter of client Tony M.

Thank you for the opportunity to nominate my father’s caregiver, Ann Okahara, for the 2019 BrightStar Care Caregiver of the Year award. She is one of the most compassionate, patient, honest, hard-working, loving, respectful, and genuinely caring people I have ever met.

My 91-year-old father and our family are so lucky that Brightstar Care Honolulu chose her to care for him almost six years ago. Before Ann became my father’s primary daytime caregiver, my mother spent a great deal of time in the morning, nagging him to get out of bed. They both seemed very unhappy. I was doing most of the driving to his various appointments and seeing his doctors with him. While I felt it was my duty to help my parents, I found myself spending less time with my two young sons with ADHD and learning disabilities.

Six years ago, I was in a difficult and stressful situation where I sometimes had to choose between taking care of my father or my children. Many times, I felt I had to choose my father. My own family started falling apart, and I lost an excessive amount of weight due to stress, anxiety, and depression. I even started feeling resentful that my mother expected me to help so much with my father’s care when my own family needed me. I finally realized that we needed help caring for my father, and I contacted BrightStar Care in Honolulu.

Ann changed my family’s life. My father started getting up at regular hours in the morning. It’s probably hard to be grumpy and refuse to get up when a smiling ball of energy pops in and says, “Good morning, Tony!” Ann set up a good morning routine that gets dad started on a positive note. Because mom wasn’t nagging him so much anymore, my parents’ relationship has become much better.

Written by Stan and Masumi M.
Ann says, “Good Morning, Tony!” to my father-in-law every single morning when she greets him. She says it with the biggest smile ever in the most-cheery tone. We know this because Tony Papa stayed with us for several summers and Ann came to our house every day to care for him. Ann has been Tony Papa’s caregiver for almost five years and is considered a bedrock of “Team Tony,” which is what we call the team of professionals who help with Tony Papa’s care. Ann is caring, detail-oriented, and conscientious. Ann shows us that she cares about Tony Papa in countless ways.
 
Written by Shizuko Sue E., family friend of client Tony M.
Thanks to BrightStar Care for sending the perfect caregiver to Tony. Since Ann started taking care of Tony, which was almost six years ago, I can clearly see that Tony’s mental and physical condition has stabilized and even improved a lot in some areas! Before Ann, his sleeping schedule was inconsistent, and he ended up sleeping all day which caused him to become dehydrated. Since Ann started coming in as a morning shift caregiver, she patiently and gently wakes Tony each morning. Now Tony is on a better schedule - he gets up in the morning and goes to sleep at night. The normal cycle of sleeping was crucial for Tony’s health, and it was crucial to the rest of the family.

Written by Norie M., wife of client Tony M.
Ann always is caring, kind, gentle, tactful, and professional. For example, when she wakes my husband in the morning, instead of telling him what to do, she tells him some interesting stories with her very gentle voice - how beautiful today’s weather is, how children are playing near the poolside, etc. So, by listening to her stories, my husband is encouraged to get out of the bed with his will. It is such a nice and professional way to encourage seniors!

Written by Janet M., daughter of client Tony M.
Ann Okahara is a wonderful human being, and I am grateful every day that she is there taking care of my parents. I live in New York City and only see my parents in Hawaii for one month out of the year. The peace of mind I have after spending a month there and experiencing for myself how much Ann is taking care of them is beyond anything I could adequately describe in words. She is truly an exceptional person, and that shines through in everything she does, especially in the detailed, caring attention, she gives to my parents. Thank you for bringing Ann into our lives!