As part of a lifestyle and aging series, we’re working with renowned photographer Terry Lorant to showcase inspirational leaders in the industry. Each month, we’ll feature one or a few inspirational member(s) of the Amazing Care Network community who is using his or her voice to empower others in the collective aging experience. Read, in their own words, what the Amazing Care Network’s efforts mean to them.

This month, we’re proud to feature Dianne Goff, a Member of Amazing Care Network and a Kaiser retiree. Dianne was the Director of Employee Health & Well Being in Human Resources at Kasier Permanente Hawaii.

Q: How were you first introduced to Amazing Care Network?

A: Over a 27-year period, I worked at Kaiser, Hawaii, in Human Resources.  I had the opportunity to oversee Employee Health, EAP, Workers’ Compensation and a variety of wellness and workplace safety programs. I had a BS in Nursing and obtained my Masters in Organizational Management. It was during this time that I met and worked with Cora, Gladys Ching and Jean Kumamoto.                

Gladys and Jean are good friends and they introduced me to the Amazing Care concept. I went to the first meeting, and I’ve been a member ever since. I knew a lot of the people at that first meeting, and a lot of them were my age.

Around that time, my mother had an accident at home.  She was hospitalized and had a total hip replacement.  She was not able to go back to her 2-story townhouse and was placed in a residential care home in Ladner, Vancouver, B.C. Canada. So, the whole issue of caregiving from a long distance was very present for me.  It’s very difficult, and that’s one of the things that Amazing Care was addressing.   My sister, who lives on Vancouver Island was tied down with her horses (Driftwood Stables) and it was hard for her get time off, to get away.  So a lot of the day-to-day burdens fell to my 2 brothers in Vancouver who lived nearer to mom. One of my brothers, an accountant, handled my mom’s affairs. I’m close to my siblings and we regularly communicate long distance and via family meetings when I am in Vancouver.  We get along really well and that was an important factor in managing mom’s care.

Then, for myself personally, I have Parkinson’s so I wanted to start thinking and finding out a little bit more about what life is going to look like for me down the road…nursing homes, assisted and/or residential care or being cared for at home. Those are all topics that Amazing Care is dealing with. 

Q: How is aging currently affecting you and your loved ones?

A: My mom and dad were very, very close.  They were married for 66 years and did everything together.  After Dad died, in 2009 things kind of started to unravel for Mom.  She had a heart attack in 2010, and after that hospitalization her dementia developed.  She had been fairly independent before that, but she really began to deteriorate and about that time I started going up to Vancouver about every 2-3 of months.

We had home visitors who came in the morning and again at dinner time.

I set up a book with her health summary, medical records, medications, daily routine, and the home visitor information.  With all the information together in one place, it helped keep things organized. We kept a message book by the phone so all the incoming calls and messages were noted. I added information to the home visitors’ manual.  Mom had a living will and ”no cardiopulmonary resuscitation” and I made sure that was up on the fridge.  There are some things you can do from a distance. The most important thing in our situation in terms of care from a distance was keeping up the communication.

As my mother’s dementia progressed, her anxiety increased.  That’s normal.  She kept talking about wanting to go home. We had family meetings and would play along and tell her she could go home a soon as her hip healed, and that seemed to calm her down. They had church services on Sundays, and I discovered that if I phoned her on Sunday after church, she was much more relaxed, as opposed to Saturdays when she’d be quite agitated and would plead with me to come visit. 

I called a lot, sent flowers on every occasion; I’d send little care packages.  When I visited the care home, I’d bring presents.  I also would take pictures of anything I sent, because things can go missing.

We had to pay special attention to the medications she was taking. For instance, one of the doctors prescribed sleeping pills after her heart surgery and she fell out of bed at home, so we had to discontinue that one.  

My baby brother was astute to how important it was to not contradict her, and that seemed to be a useful approach.  He’d take her to the farmer’s market which was only a block or two away.  She could walk it, and then, when she couldn’t walk any more, he’d take her in a wheel chair.  He always had to check her pockets for what she’d pinch!

She was 96 when she recently passed away, quietly in her sleep.  We’re going to have her memorial, a “celebration of life” next month.

Q: How has Amazing Care Network and their market events helped?

A: The workshops at Amazing Care have provided really useful information on how to respond to people in these situations. The communication and the language that you use can make all the difference. There was one meeting about having a conversation with your family and kids and creating a trust. My husband and I sat down last Christmas and talked with our kids about it.

The tea where the guest was a pharmacist was super helpful in understanding the medications my mom was taking.  For example sleeping pills can inhibit the ability for older people to function properly the next day. There are other things you can do for some older folks besides giving them more pills.  My mom got her hair done every week and that relaxed her. 

The networking has been the most important thing for me.  Other people have been in the same situation…traveling to the mainland to care for their family members, or see them when they’ve needed care. It’s good to be in touch with other people who understand what you’re going through. 

My Parkinson’s came on about 6 months before I retired, in about 2005. I had to quit work at age 64 because my hand was shaking and I had trouble with the computer.  I had wanted to work two more years until I was 66 but I decided that taking care of my health was more important. So, I quit work and then started taking Levodopa and that’s really helped. The tremors went away.  I’m taking 3 or 4 medications, fish oil and multi vitamins. I started to think about my health in general…one of my medications for osteoporosis damaged my bones resulting in hip surgeries with titanium rods for a right hip break and a left hip fracture. I’ve tried chiropractors and acupuncturists.  I joined 24-hour Fitness and found a coach who works with me twice a week.  That has really helped me with strengthening of my muscles.  So now my upper body is really strong.  I go 5-6 days a week. It really makes me feel better…my Parkinson’s muscles are getting stronger. I was a Raku artist for 27 years.  We stirred the glazed with our hands in those days…those chemicals may have done some of the damage. I was so active and athletic as a young person, so it’s been kind of a shock. It’s really challenging.

Another thing I’d recommend…we had an Amazing Care workshop about getting your house ready.  A fellow came from the construction business. It’s really helpful to get your house organized and ready while you’re healthy.  When I broke my hips, those bars that we had installed were my lifesavers.  It’s a good idea when you’re renovating, think ahead even when you’re young!

The other thing with Amazing Care, the more you talk, the more you come up with good things.  It’s an organic evolution.  Sometimes you try to move things too fast.  It’ll happen.  It’s usually a friend of a friend…here in Hawaii it’s the “Coconut Wireless”.  That’s how things happen.  That’s how networks build. 

Join ACN! Learn more HERE. If you’re an ACN Member and would like to be featured, please contact