HONOLULU (KHON2) — As the Executive Director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness or NAMI Hawaii, Kumi Macdonald faced an uphill battle during the pandemic with a surging workload while caring for her family.  

“So my workload doubled, my son is struggling and I’m caring for mom. It’s okay to ask for help and that’s what I dealt with,” says Kumi Macdonald, kupuna caregiver.    

Macdonald is part of the sandwich generation in caring for her aging parents while also raising three kids including a teenager. Her mom suffered a serious stroke four and a half years ago.

“Sometimes I have to focus more on my teenager who’s struggling with online schooling and when my son is doing better, then I can take care of mom. So it’s okay to give yourself grace and to be kind to yourself,” said Macdonald.

Macdonald suffered caregiver burnout, so she had to prioritize her own mental and physical health, setting boundaries and taking time to decompress.

“I started going into the ocean and swimming three times a week. I did more yoga and stretching, connected to my church group. Instead of going in for treatment after the fact, it’s preventative. So, taking care of yourself is preventative and you don’t want to burn out,” says Macdonald.

Her family also pitched in.

“Some good things came out of it. Since my daughter started caring for grandma, she realized she could do this for a living so that’s the path that she’s pursuing. So it’s okay to ask for help and say I can’t do it all,” shared Macdonald.

If you or a loved one is struggling, contact NAMI Hawaii.

“We’re here to provide free classes, education support groups and we’re here with our warm line if you want to give us a call. We can help you over the phone. So we’re here to help free of charge at namihawaii.org,” said Macdonald.

For more information on NAMI Hawaii, visit their website.