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Where help is needed

Yes&Know By Aline Yamashita

I stared at the article. Those who need personal assistance are limited to four hours a week.

How do we expect people with disabilities or our manamko’ who need help to survive? Forget thrive.

These people need assistance to eat, bathe and go to the bathroom. Hopefully, these people can walk and talk. But if they cannot, they need help moving and communicating, too.

We are living longer. Family size has shrunk. My dad was the middle child of 13. Mom was the third of seven. I have two. My sister is child-free.

Perhaps, it was customary to have the children care for family. Today, that does not always work out. For sure, some children care for their aging parents, but that is not a guarantee.

So, we have public health and developmental disabilities programs to help. But four hours a week?


We have businesses on Guam to help but, truthfully, getting help is challenging. We made a request in December for blood work to be done at home for our 89-year-old mom. Five months later, we’re still waiting. My sister sat in their lobby for an hour waiting to speak with someone. I reached out to our insurance company to see if they could facilitate a response.

We continue to wait.

The social networking structure needs drastic attention. Human service programs need to be introduced in middle school and high school. Students need to be given the opportunity to explore human development through the years by listening to stories about helping grandmas and grandpas. Class presentations need to be made by the different faith and cultural groups to speak about caring for one another as they age or when they need help.

Visits to St. Dominic’s, Skilled Nursing Center, Guam Memorial Hospital need to be scheduled so that students can see and feel the joy expressed when visitors make the time for these folks. Volunteer effort needs to be organized so that students can see the value in helping those in need.


A media campaign by the University of Guam’s social work program can help students understand the needed skills required to help others, especially those who say they do not need help.

Each faith program should establish a network of recruiting caregivers, training programs, and resources to provide the needed support for all families.

The pay structure must be competitive. Many in the human service fields are not there for the money. But perhaps a competitive pay structure will attract the needed numbers.

Accepting assistance is not always easy. Accepting the fact that we can no longer provide for ourselves is hard, especially if we have always been independent and self-sufficient. Our pride unfolds as boldly as a peacock when realizing help is needed for safety and health reasons. Hopefully, reasoning calms the anxiety and steps are taken, as needed.

If you welcome someone into your home to help, make sure they understand the rules. Keep them simple. Put them in writing. Welcome questions. Remember that different backgrounds may have different perspectives, so you need to ensure that the caregiver understands yours. Develop a schedule to help the caregiver know what to do and when.


For those who do not think they do not have to worry about getting old and needing help, think again. Life has a way of zipping by. It’s never too early to plan accommodations for later life for your parents and yourself. Where you will live, and financial support needs to be strategized. And the necessary caregiving.

In the very least, get your photo albums in order. Photos are an excellent tool to help everyone remember and cherish wonderful moments throughout life.

Yes, there are government and community services that are supposed to help, but we know those support services fall short. Plan now so that the transition into sunset years is as you want it.

Aline Yamashita is a mom, a teacher and former senator. She served in the 31st and 32nd Guam Legislatures. Send feedback to

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