I’ve been working hard with my dog, Lilo, to get her trained to become a visitation dog through Hawaiian Humane Society’s Joy Ambassador program. Like a proud mother, I’m happy to report that she has passed her tests, and has been eagerly spreading joy to local seniors.

We’ve been frequenting senior care residences in town throughout the past couple of months. As the seniors pet Lilo and we sit and chat, I can’t help but see the similarities between them and some of my relatives. They all have such amazing histories, and they seem to enjoy sharing them with me.


One of the things I love about Hawaii is its culture of revering our kupuna. Multigenerational homes are the norm, and caring for our elders is a part of life. As with any major event, preparation is key for success.

Getting your home ready for a senior lifestyle, whether it’s for yourself or someone else, can ensure comfort and safety for many years to come. Small changes can make big differences. Consider some of these updates:

Brighten up

Check the light bulbs throughout your home. If it’s possible, swap them out for brighter versions. (Shopping hint: Lumens, not watts, tell you the brightness of a bulb.) While you are at it, install nightlights throughout hallways and bathrooms.


Open the door


Replace traditional doorknobs with lever handles. These will be easier to open, and they’ll add a touch of elegance to your home. When shopping for a lever handle, keep in mind which way you need the door to open. Check to see whether you need a right-handed or left-handed installation before shopping, or opt for a reversible lever that works for either.

Go rail

Install handrails on both sides of the stairs, both inside and outside your home. You can also install handrails (or lean rails, which are similar but flat instead of round) throughout long hallways or around a room. Contrary to what you may have seen, it is possible to integrate these rails with your decor. To do this, paint the top half of the wall a color, and the bottom half white, with the white rail in between.

Add seating

Strategically placed benches will give you and your guests somewhere to place items, and also take a load off from time to time. Look for benches with storage underneath to give shoes and slippers a place that won’t pose a potential hazard.