AJ Cipperly, Vice President of Memory Care at The Arbor Company, joins us again for another informative episode about dementia. Learn how to identify dementia symptoms, what tangible steps should be taken after a dementia diagnosis, and how someone living with dementia can maintain their independence while being supported.
Hi, everyone, and welcome to another episode of Senior Living Live. We are on-site at a beautiful Arbor community in Lakeway, Texas, and I'm so lucky today to be joined by AJ Cipperly, who is here with us. She works with the Arbor company. And actually why don't you tell us exactly who you are and what you do?
Yeah. Thanks, Mary Kate. So my name is AJ. So I'm the vice president of memory care for the Arbor company.
And I have been in the field of serving people living with dementia and their families for gosh, twenty-plus years now. In various, you know, ways in different locations. And so I'm just truly blessed to be doing what I do. Absolutely.
So We are so excited to have your expertise with us today. So today we wanna talk about, the the after. A dementia diagnosis. It's obviously a very scary time with a lot of emotions.
And so can we just start with the kind of the basics of dementia and and what that looks like, you know, the stages progression, just what someone might expect, when they start hearing that word? Well, it's important to know that the term dementia refers to a group of symptoms. It actually isn't a diagnosis in and of itself. It's saying that you are experiencing symptoms that are impacting your thinking, your memory, your judgment.
And so it's really important when somebody's experiencing those symptoms to see a doctor, to get a really good work up and identify what are causing those symptoms. Yes, it could be something like Alzheimer's the most common form of dementia that we hear about, but it also could be other types of dementia, vascular dementia, But it could also be things like I'm taking two medications that are interacting with one another. I have an infection in my body that hasn't been treated and it's impacting my cognitive abilities. It could also be that I'm depressed.
And that also can impact my ability to think clearly and use good judgment. So it's really important. I really encourage people if they have concerns to see a doctor and really get a good work up and figure out what's going on. And what are some things to watch out for, to pay attention to, to know when to go to the doctor.
Yeah. I mean, if if what a person is experiencing is impacting their ability to live their life like they typically do. They should get checked out.
It it's things that are different. So I use an example, you know, I'm a baker. I love to cook and bake. I've followed recipes all my life. So as I age, if I start to have trouble following a recipe, that's not normal. Right?
My husband's really good at managing money. He does the bills. He manages our finances. He's really good at that.
If he starts to have issues as he ages, that's gonna be a warning sign. Because that's something he's always been good at. You know, having a a piece of equipment, you've had the same oven, the same microwave, the same TV for years, you've known how to use it. Now you're having trouble using that normal, that familiar piece of equipment, not talking about new technology.
That's hard for all of us.
You know, that's not normal to start to have trouble with those things, getting lost in familiar areas. Again, not normal, it doesn't necessarily mean, you know, oh my gosh, you have Alzheimer's or dementia, but something's not right, and it's important to get checked out.
So let's say a family does get diagnosed with a form of dementia. What are typically the next steps that you would recommend. So one of the first things I recommend for families is to educate themselves. Knowledge is power, And so really reaching out and finding all finding out all they can about the diagnosis, what resources are out there, what sort of things do they need to do next, But with that being said, it's also important to to be cautious and understand that everyone else's journey isn't your journey. You know, just because we read and you hear about the stages and oh my gosh, you know, you know, when is dad gonna forget me, that doesn't mean that's your journey. And that doesn't mean that's your dad's but it does empower you to know, Hey, this is what I could be looking for.
That's a really great point that, you know, some people have preconceived notions of it, but it's gonna be prepared that might not be what actually happens.
So we're obviously here in a senior living community that offers memory care. What are benefits of living in a community with a specialized memory care program.
So the benefits are really about supporting my success.
Me being if I'm the person living with dementia. How can I be successful living my life, still maintaining independence, maintaining function and slowing progression? It is still possible to live well with dementia, and and having a specialized memory care neighborhood that's designed to support me where I need that support, just kind of be there when I need it.
Is is so much better than just kind of being in a place that maybe I don't have that support. And so I'm making mistakes. I'm I'm doing things maybe that aren't safe or I'm isolating myself because I don't feel comfortable in my environment or around the people that I'm I'm around.
Because so then I'll start to, you know, to isolate myself, loneliness, isolation. I mean, all those things are only going to, you know, make me decline faster.
And, you know, we've seen a lot, where folks will move into assisted living and then the memory care option is there if you need it. And can you just expand on that a little bit more on how that can be an option for people? Yeah. I mean, it's important to understand.
One, just having a diagnosis of dementia doesn't automatically mean that you need the specialized memory care neighborhood. Okay? It really is about where can I best have my needs met and be supportive for success? So assisted living communities are great, you know, if I just need help here and there, right, with certain parts of my day, with doing certain tasks of, activities of daily living.
Alright. I might need help with just making sure that I take my pills that I'm taking the right ones. Okay. No big deal.
Or just reminders, hey, you know, come down to lunch. Okay. Great.
In a specialized memory care neighborhood, it's that type of assistance, but it's more enhanced and it's provided by people that are specially trained to to provide that support in a way that, I can better accept. So they know me really well.
They know what I'm gonna have trouble with and how the best way to support me is. They know to, okay, AJ's gonna need help with this part of the meal but then once I get her started, she can finish and I can back off. It's being in an environment that is specifically designed to help me be successful.
Having cues, contrasting color, signs, things that are in the environment that are going to help me find my way, more successfully.
And then, opportunities for me to connect with my peers, opportunities for me to engage in things that work my brain, that work my body, all those things that we know are gonna enhance and maintain function for somebody living with dementia.
So Let's talk about if if a family does decide that a memory care community is the right choice for for their family, They start looking around. What are some things that you would recommend, to keep an eye out for when you're starting to tour these communities?
Yeah. So I always tell families you know, certainly the looking at the physical environment is important. Of course, you know, you want it to be cleaned, smell nice, you know, to be well kept and well designed.
But really look beyond that. You know, we talk a lot at the Arbor company about the emotional environment.
How does it feel? You know, does it feel warm and welcoming, or does it feel cold and sterile? You know, talk to the people that work there. Do they like it?
Do they seem happy? Do they enjoy their work? I mean, these are the people that are gonna be supporting mom or dad. And typically, if they enjoy their work, you know, this is probably a good place to be.
So we're really looking at that emotional environment. How how is mom gonna be supported? You know, what sort of helping techniques do they utilize are they gonna just take over and do everything for her? Or are they gonna continue to support her to do the things that she can still do? What sort of opportunities is she gonna have to have a meaningful day.
You know, is it things that she's interested in, you know, look at the or are there things that mom enjoys?
Are there things that is going to enhance her her function?
Or she's just gonna be, you know, kind of isolated in her apartment all day.
And those are great things to keep in mind, especially such a involved time of making that decision.
So one more question for you before we let you go.
You made a great comment earlier about one of the first steps after receiving, you know, hearing that word is to get to get educated and really start to understand what you might be dealing with What are some good resources, that are available to seniors and their families? There's a ton of resources out there and it really can be overwhelming. You know, two really good ones just right off the bat or the Alzheimer's Association and the Alzheimer's Foundation both have great online websites with resources.
Many of them have local chapters. So that they can provide, local resources and local support.
Another really good resource is Keepa Snow's positive approach to care organ they have, ongoing education series, webinars, and they also do, consultations with families as well. So that's a really good resource. The number one resource I encourage families to look into is to find a support group.
Whether it's online, whether it's local, where you go in person, there is such value in being with other people that are going through the same thing you are. There are support groups that can be very specific to dementia. So Louisville Body dementia support group. There's support groups that are specific to the relationship. So a support group for spouses of people living with dementia, a support group for adult children.
So really looking and and find maybe have to try multiple ones to find one where feel comfortable, but find one. And that that's so important. You're not alone in this, and finding support is incredibly important. Yes. That makes so much sense being able to connect with people who are going through a similar experience. Absolutely.
Well, AJ, I cannot thank you enough for sitting down with me. This was so informative, and I'm sure that you have helped a lot of our viewers. Thank you. Absolutely.
Alright, everybody. If you would like to watch more videos like this one and learn about more senior living topics, you can go to SeniorLivingLive.com. And for now, that's it, everybody. Thank you