‘The hardest thing’: Husband and wife are both disabled and he’s her caregiver

Published: May. 11, 2019 at 2:53 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Up until recently, Darren Araki was physically able to care for his wheelchair-bound wife, Janell.

That changed dramatically last year ― when Darren underwent surgery on his spine.

“I’ve been helping my wife for 10 years,” he said. “To not be able to help her is the hardest thing.”

It's hard because Darren now needs help.

His back and other health issues now prevent him from standing and moving to assist his wife.

"I just don't know what to do some days," he said.

Janell’s on dialysis treatments and has suffered a series of heart attacks. Darren’s now confined to a wheelchair and facing more surgery.

They own a small business and earn too much to qualify for Medicaid.

They checked into state assistance and struck out there, too.

"What we understand is if we're disabled, deemed disabled, we cannot get onto Quest," he said.

Pedro Haro, advocacy director for Caring Across Generations, said the Arakis situation is unfortunate and unusual.

“Particularly here in Hawaii, we depend so much on extended families, on our loved ones to be able to provide that care. If they have nobody to turn to, it’s a really difficult situation,” he said.

Getting help is also hard because of their age. Darren is only 49 and Janell is 48. Caregiver services are largely geared toward the elderly.

“We’ve pretty much depleted our savings and might have to, possibly, sell the business,” he said.

The couple’s co-pay for medications is close to $1,000 a month, and they had to retrofit their home to accommodate two people in wheelchairs.

Not that long ago, Janell collapsed in their living room.

"We had to call 911. I couldn't do nothing because I couldn't get up and help her with CPR or anything," Darren said.

The Arakis depend on family and friends to run errands, shop and cook. But they feel like they’re becoming a burden.

“For me, I really feel bad asking everybody because they have their own lives,” Darren said.

He said the couple called on every agency and office they can think of.

"When they hear our situation, they pretty much shake their heads and tell us they're not too sure what can be done," he said.

It’s a difficult case ― in which the caregiver also needs care. To visit their GoFundMe page, click here.

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