A Look at Keiro’s History and Future


The Japanese American National Museum’s award-winning Discover Nikkei website will present a special public program in collaboration with Keiro Senior HealthCare, “Wellness as a Global Solution: A Look at Keiro”, on Sunday, Sept. 18, beginning at 2 p.m. at JANM, First and Central in Little Tokyo.

This year, Keiro marks the 50th anniversary since its founding. It was organized to meet the needs of Japanese American seniors by providing a culturally sensitive environment with familiar language, food, and values.

Starting with its purchase of the Japanese Hospital of Los Angeles in 1961, Keiro initially provided hospital care. Thanks to many personal sacrifices, including generous donations from the community and the mortgaging of private homes by the founders, Keiro moved toward senior care, opening Keiro Nursing Home in 1969.

In 1974, it took over the former Jewish Home for the Aging in Boyle Heights and opened both a retirement home and an intermediate care facility. It later opened another nursing home in the South Bay.

Most recently, it started The Institute for Healthy Aging at Keiro to deal with the growing need to support older adults living at home. This institute enables families to understand the fundamentals of healthy aging as well as financial fitness and essential related issues, including caregiving, continuing education and maintaining both physical and mental fitness.

According to recent U.S. Census information, one in five individuals in the Japanese American community is over 65 years of age. This foreshadows the aging of the overall U.S. population, which will have a similar ratio by 2050. The Institute for Healthy Aging at Keiro has already broken new ground in dealing with a large aging population.

The public program will feature reflections on Keiro’s history and founders as well as discussion of wellness through a genki (healthy) lifestyle and the important issues that accompany aging, both mental and physical. Among topics to be explained are dealing with memory issues through tools like “Memory Kai,” UCLA’s memory training course, and “A Matter of Balance,” a fall-prevention course developed by Boston University.

Speakers will include Dianne Kujubu Belli, executive director, The Institute for Healthy Aging at Keiro; Howard Hiyoshida, administrator, South Bay Keiro Nursing Home; Rumi Nakatani and Bill Shishima, Keiro volunteer coaches. Author Naomi Hirahara will moderate the program.

Discover Nikkei was founded through the support of the Nippon Foundation to provide a way for Nikkei (people of Japanese ancestry) to share their histories. It consistently looks to highlight both personal and community stories and to connect with a global audience.

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