Joann Aoki has long lived with her grandmother Jessie Kia’aina, now 92-years old. But one year ago “ama,” as they call her, fell ill, and Joann became her caregiver.
“She’s my grandmother, she’s given for me and now it’s time for me to give back,” said Aoki.
Kia’aina says Aoki takes good care of her. “Yah, even my great granddaughter, they all take care of me, I no have to yell nothing,” she said.
Joann’s daughter Jasmine has been a great help, and there’s Joann’s other daughter, 13-year old Jordyn.
“I think it humbles you to know what you’re looking forward to in life,” said Aoki. “I’m hoping and i’m sure my kids will take care of me when I need them so you know it’s nice to show them what I’m doing now.”
Caregiving for Joann is second nature. She’s also assistant general manager at the Hawai’i Kai Retirement Community, where she’s worked for 17 years. Jasmine now works there too by the way.
“The residents I deal with in the day are my second family and of course I come home to my first family and take care of my grandmother and I don’t even think twice about it, it just happens naturally,” said Aoki. “Is it difficult? Sure, it really is. But you get over that and you realize that she really needs you.”
“Everybody always tells me you have the best mom or she’s the awesomest I always agree it’s very true,” said Aoki’s daughter Jasmine. “I just wanted somebody to see what she does cause nobody everybody sees what she does at work then some people see what she does at home but they don’t see it together and they don’t realize how much she does.”
“At the end of the day it’s just who I am I guess,” said Aoki. “Why? I have no idea, why things happen the way they do, they do but I’ll take it as it comes and do what I need to do.”