Hope on the Horizon? : Episode 31
Episode 31 - For our thirty-first episode, we hear from resident, Betty Weigand at Episcopal Church Home, President and CEO, Laura Lamb and Director of the Center of Memory Support & Inclusion, Shannon Braun.
Episode 31 Transcript
Bryan Reynolds [00:00:03] Hello, hello, hello, welcome to Episode thirty, one of the Linkage podcast by Episcopal Retirement Services. This episode is for the week of March 1st, two thousand twenty one. Thanks so much for joining us. I'm Bryan Reynolds Vice President of Marketing for Episcopal Retirement Services and I'm here with Kristin Davenport, director of communications for ERS and our executive producer. How are you, Kristen?
Kristin Davenport [00:00:27] Doing well, Bryan. I'm loving this sunshine we're getting this week and it's been a really good one.
Bryan Reynolds [00:00:33] Yeah, it's a great tease of spring after a few brutal weeks of winter here that we had in February. Yeah, absolutely. The Linkage podcast is dedicated to educating our audiences about issues regarding aging, informing people about the mission of SARS and how that comes to life in our everyday interactions with our residents, clients, families and staff members. So, Kristen, you want to tell us a little bit about our upcoming episode?
Kristin Davenport [00:01:02] Yeah, and we have a really good programs today for listeners. Today, we're going to visit with Betty Weigand. Betty lived in Louisville, Kentucky, at our Dudley Square patio homes nearby to the Episcopal Church Home. And you got to visit with Betty and hear about what's happening down there in Louisville. And then we also have our president and CEO, Laura Lamb, who was your guest this week, as she is typically always there to give us an update on things happening all around the ERS campuses. And then you also had our director of the Center for Memory, Support and Inclusion, Shannon Braun. And Shannon has been with ERS about a year. And it was a, you know, a great conversation you guys also had about folks that are living with dementia and trying to get through these trying times. It just compounds everything. So I'm looking forward to that conversation as well.
Bryan Reynolds [00:02:07] Yeah, I think we've got a great episode and we had some great conversations. So with that, you want to introduce our first guest, Bryan.
Kristin Davenport [00:02:15] I'm looking forward to hearing your conversation with Betty. Betty Weigand lives in Louisville, Kentucky, and here is Bryan with Betty.
Bryan Reynolds [00:02:35] So I'm here this week with one of our residents from Episcopal Church Home and Dudley Square, Betty Weigand. Hi, Betty, how are you?
Betty Weigand [00:02:46] Well, I'm doing well today. The sun is shining, and that always makes me feel good. So it could be a good should be a good day.
Bryan Reynolds [00:02:55] Yeah, I think we're all starting to see the weather turn a little bit in. That's great. And I, I know it's we're almost a year now into when the first you know, the pandemic really started touching our lives here in the United States. And, you know, I know I asked you how you were doing, but I guess it's generally over the last year, you know, how are you doing? How are you feeling?
Betty Weigand [00:03:20] All of them feeling great. It's you know, I think this is being down here in Kentucky is really a good place to be. I think about my life up north and about the cold, cold, cold winters. And I must say the winters here are not too bad, right?
Bryan Reynolds [00:03:42] Yeah. So you're you're originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Correct. And you've been that's about seven years.
Betty Weigand [00:03:50] That's right. Uh huh. Yeah. So that's been nice. I came down here, of course, to be with my family and that's worked out well, except that the the pandemic has not been too cooperative along those lines.
Bryan Reynolds [00:04:06] Yeah. So that's that's presented some challenges in terms of seeing family and friends and.
Betty Weigand [00:04:15] Oh right.
Bryan Reynolds [00:04:17] It sure has been difficult. But as you and I were talking a little earlier, you're feeling some some more sense of hope.
Betty Weigand [00:04:25] That's well, that's right. We have to be optimistic and it seems like that we are beginning to see the end of this news is not so bad as it once was. And we're getting positive feedback from what is happening. So I think everybody feels better about that.
Bryan Reynolds [00:04:46] Yeah, and the residents got their vaccinations back in in January, so that I'm sure that was a good feeling as well.
Betty Weigand [00:04:55] Oh, that has made it so much, so much better, and I think how fortunate we were to be able to get our vaccines, when I hear of people who are still struggling, they want to get this vaccine, as everyone should, but some people are still struggling to get it. So I think we've been very, very fortunate to have that sense of security. We still have the bioscan and take care, but that it's a better feeling.
Bryan Reynolds [00:05:28] Yeah, yeah. We've still got our social distancing and masking, you know, requirements in place so that we're looking out for everyone. But yeah, I think you're right. I think so many people are are feeling that optimism with as every day passes and more people get vaccinated. So that's great. So, Betty, what have you been doing over the past year to kind of stay active and engaged? Do you have any hobbies or kind of rituals where you do that?
Betty Weigand [00:06:01] Well, you know, one thing that I've found is helpful, and it takes up some of my time, as I've always liked to garden and work with with a little bit of dirt in my hands and all. And I found that if I can bring in well, I just have filled my home with lots of indoor plants.
Bryan Reynolds [00:06:20] Yeah.
Betty Weigand [00:06:20] And almost almost too many probably. But I enjoy caring for those. And, you know, it takes me some time to keep them trimmed back and to water them and make transplant them and so forth. So. Mm hmm. You know, so I've been doing a lot of that kind of like another hobby. Yeah. And so and I also find that I'm spending a lot a lot of time on the telephone because I have been making lots of phone calls. Yeah. Many old friends that I haven't been in touch with for years. And, you know, I think it's about time we get get back in touch. And these symptoms are very fulfilling to be able to talk to old friends and find out that we remember the same things and, you know, bring brings back lots of good memories.
Bryan Reynolds [00:07:22] That's wonderful. You're able to reconnect during this time.
Betty Weigand [00:07:29] I think that, you know, they enjoy it, too. So I feel good about that. And also, I get started trying to organize old pictures and just organize things around the house. So I think that's a maybe one of the positive things that comes from the isolation story.
Bryan Reynolds [00:07:53] Sure, sure. Well, with the warmer weather, are you able, you know, as it warms up, get out a little bit more? Do you do gardening outside and walk throughout the Dudley neighborhood as well?
Betty Weigand [00:08:11] Oh, yeah. I was going to say that one of the wonderful things about being here at Dudley is the fact that they take such good care of the property, the streets, the sidewalks and and it's possible almost well, unless the weather is too bad, but it's possible to get outside and and walk. And in that way we can see friends and wave or sometimes stop and chat for just a little bit.
Bryan Reynolds [00:08:39] Right. Yeah.
Betty Weigand [00:08:39] But it it makes you feel like you're not just all by yourself.
Bryan Reynolds [00:08:44] I've heard residents love their chats across the driveway in a sociological way.
Betty Weigand [00:08:53] That's right. Well, that's right. We used to have fun at the indoor pool when Wednesday night get togethers. But now we can sometimes get together outside and self distance. So that makes up for some of that. Right. And of course, there's always lots of reading to do. Yeah. And, you know, I'm trying to catch up on some some of the reading that I've been putting off. And also and of course, working puzzles are, you know, not not not the ji gsaw puzzle. But then...
Bryan Reynolds [00:09:38] The word puzzles?
Betty Weigand [00:09:38] The word puzzles, yeah.Yeah, the crossword puzzles are fun. So you can find things to do and you have to find things to do. So.
Bryan Reynolds [00:09:54] So it certainly sounds like you've been keeping keeping very busy. So are there any any past situations or any crisis with me personally or maybe more on a national level that have kind of helped you cope through this this current pandemic?
Betty Weigand [00:10:17] Well, you know, not I'm having a real crisis in my in my life experiences, but I know that my husband's work took us to many, many different parts of the country. They moved from one state to the other. And each time we have had to move. It was kind of like a crisis because I had to pick up and, you know, start all over again.
Bryan Reynolds [00:10:55] And adapt?
Betty Weigand [00:10:57] Yeah. Right. And so that was kind of a challenge and and you find to that. You know, it isn't all bad that sometimes it's you learn a little bit more and and, you know, you also find out that nothing lasts forever. Things do change.
Bryan Reynolds [00:11:17] Right.
Bryan Reynolds [00:11:18] And you have to accept that. So, you know, that has that's I guess I have learned that, yes, you can do it. And and and so you can if you just keep moving forward.
Bryan Reynolds [00:11:37] Yeah. I think I try and share that lesson with my kids now. Nothing ever stays the same kind of learning to adapt to life as it brings its challenges and things like that.
Betty Weigand [00:11:52] Yeah, for some reason we don't have control over everything. Kind of like I like to think that we did, but we don't. So we do what we can.
Bryan Reynolds [00:12:04] Yeah. So, so, so with that being said, you know, is there anything that you're really looking forward to once, once the pandemic, once covid kind of starts fading into the background that you're really looking forward to?
Betty Weigand [00:12:20] Oh, well, of course, the the getting together with the family again. Yeah, and I got grandchildren and great grandchildren who I really haven't seen because I want to protect them and they want to protect me. Sure. So, you know, I sure am looking forward to it. And another thing is hoping to travel more. Yeah. And, you know, to be able to I have family that I want to go down in Arizona. Then I want to get to have come up here and yeah, it's just not too good to fly yet. And so I hope we'll get back to being able to do that.
Bryan Reynolds [00:13:08] Yeah. Are there any particular places that you like to travel to, usually seeing friends and family, or do you have any destinations that you like?
Betty Weigand [00:13:18] Oh well of course I have in the past every I have property up in a small community in Wisconsin. That's where I like to go in the summer. And I haven't been able to do that. So I hope to get up there. But again, it's this past year, it just wasn't worth taking taking a chance to try and get there. Right. And so I hope that, you know, I'll be able to get get back up there this year. And I just don't I don't have to do anything there. I'll just sit back and relax.
Bryan Reynolds [00:13:58] Yeah. Out of curiosity, you said you were originally from Milwaukee. So is it is that probably up in the Milwaukee area or is that like out in the Wisconsin Dells area?
Betty Weigand [00:14:08] I know you well, it's yeah, it's on the Mississippi River. Right. Right across from. Oh, yeah. Minnesota. And so we're on the on the river and, you know, quite, quite up, quite a bit of way up north.
Bryan Reynolds [00:14:29] Yeah. That's a beautiful area. I used to go up there as a kid with my mom is from Minnesota originally and we travel in that area all the oh beautiful rivers and lakes and and yeah for us it really is nice.
Betty Weigand [00:14:46] Yeah. Do you know where Winona, Minnesota is?
Bryan Reynolds [00:14:51] Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Right across the river. Well isn't that interesting.
Bryan Reynolds [00:14:56] Yeah. I have beautiful memories of going up there when I was a kid and my parents were both teachers and we would we would travel up, we'd go to Minneapolis, but then we travel throughout the state and do some fishing. And yeah, it's just a gorgeous area.
Betty Weigand [00:15:14] Well, the fish are still up up there waiting for you, so you better get back.
Bryan Reynolds [00:15:19] That's right. That's right. My that that was actually my wife and I's hobby we picked up the summer is fishing, so we've really enjoyed getting out outdoors and and and learning more and more. I know I did it as a kid, but it was many years where I didn't do it. And so we kind of enjoyed that during this period.
Betty Weigand [00:15:41] Well, and first thing is, you can self distance too. So you kind of felt like that's a wonderful hobby to have. Yeah, yeah.
Bryan Reynolds [00:15:51] Yeah. It's it's something she had never done before, but we've really enjoyed doing it together.
Bryan Reynolds [00:15:59] That's great.
Bryan Reynolds [00:16:00] We're looking forward to the warmer days and getting out again.
Betty Weigand [00:16:04] Good. Ok. And I hope you have lots of luck with your fishing. Thanks. Your wife will enjoy it as much as you do.
Bryan Reynolds [00:16:11] Thank you. Yeah, she's talking about it now, so it will be out soon.
Betty Weigand [00:16:15] Good.
Bryan Reynolds [00:16:15] I'm sure as well. Betty, I want to thank you so much for joining us on our podcast, and we'll look forward to catching up real soon. So thank you so much all.
Betty Weigand [00:16:27] Oh, well, thank you for for inviting me. And it was good to visit with you again today. Thank you.
Kristin Davenport [00:16:37] Well, Bryan, it was just wonderful to get to know Betty a little bit through your conversation. Of course, I spent a lot of summers up north as well. It was great to hear about that and some of the other activities that Betty's got going on.
Bryan Reynolds [00:16:51] Yeah, she she was delightful to speak with and she's just so positive and has stayed really busy and and just just knows how to adapt to life and what what challenges that can be thrown at you. And and like, you know, she does everything from gardening to reading books and doing puzzles. And so she stays stays really busy. So it was definitely fun to get to know her.
Kristin Davenport [00:17:19] Absolutely. Well, we're next up is our president and CEO Laura Lamb. Speaking of taking life as it comes and getting through these times, Laura has been leading us all through this. And I know we're all feeling that the spring and in the coming season of, you know, a lot of hope and a lot of change. And I think we're all hoping that we're going to see some some new things coming down the road that'll give us a lot more ways to be together without maybe so many of these restrictions we've all been living under.
Bryan Reynolds [00:18:00] Yeah. So we we definitely hit on a lot of topics around, you know, obviously with the vaccinations behind us and kind of waiting for our guidance to be updated. So here's my interview with Laura.
[00:18:24] So we're back again this week with president and CEO Laura Lamb. Hi, Laura, how are you?
Laura Lamb [00:18:29] I'm doing well, Bryan. How about you?
Bryan Reynolds [00:18:31] Doing good. Can you believe it is the first week of March?
Laura Lamb [00:18:36] No, I'm in denial. How about you?
Bryan Reynolds [00:18:39] No. It seems like the first two months have gone by like no other? Usually it's feels like a slower time to me, I think, because of winter. But it certainly went by very quickly. And so anyway, you know, we're almost a year since the pandemic pandemic really started impacting our lives. And I wanted to kind of check in with you.
[00:19:06] You know, a lot's been happening over the last few months in terms of vaccinations and guidelines and things like that. So I guess I wanted to check in particularly we're seeing some news of states starting to eliminate mandates. And so where are we in the process of kind of opening up maybe more at the community level?
Laura Lamb [00:19:33] Well, you know, we have seen a lot of movement in that area, haven't we? And you and I have talked about just our frustration about, you know, OK, we've been vaccinated. Let's all just go back to the life that we we had last year. And we can't do that yet, you know, for a number of practical reasons. Number one, being and aging services, we are governed by, you know, the current governor's orders that are in place in our states. These.. The CMS guidelines. And, you know, that takes some time.
[00:20:11] So I think there's a lot of like anxiousness and some frustration that maybe we should just unpack for a little bit because it's real. It's real. And I feel it. I feel it. I look at my friends and my family that don't work in aging services or health care and think, well, that must be nice because we can't do that. We can't do that yet. Right. So we we are still in the vaccination phase and in our communities, you know, the great number of our residents, actually close to 100 percent of the residents in our retirement communities have had access to it. But affordable living is was on a different schedule. So we actually have a vaccination clinic today in Shawnee, which we're so excited about. But until we get as a society the herd immunity that that we talk about, you know, we're still in this one foot in both worlds kind of thing and aging services. We we need to be just from in the entire year we learned this, that we need to be a little bit more careful than maybe some other industries and some other businesses.
Bryan Reynolds [00:21:25] Right.
Laura Lamb [00:21:26] But it's frustrating. I guess they got enough.
Bryan Reynolds [00:21:29] Yeah. And so for those that have been vaccinated, you know, I'm sure there's there's some some feeling of, OK, now I've got some protection. I think we all know it's not a hundred percent. But, you know, I guess there's still some some risk as they consider very the variants that are starting to move throughout society. But then understanding the impact of maybe how it spreads, even if you are vaccinated, is still, I guess, part of the consideration.
Laura Lamb [00:22:02] Yeah, it is. And one interesting fact that our our listeners might be interested in is that the the effectiveness studies did not include older adults, so that that is a concern of people that serve older adults. You know, so the bottom line is that we know a lot, but there's still things that we don't know. And the Center for Medicare and Medicaid, you know, they they have a huge responsibility to make sure that they're following the evidence based science. Right. Right. And so that's what we're doing. We're following the science. And, you know, Dr. Falchi and leaders, when they talk about the general public, they say one thing, but when they are when they drill down, are talking about the frail, frail elders or people that live in congregate settings that are seniors, they have a different a different guideline. The good news is that we are a leading age member. We're very active in advocacy, all of our groups. And personally, I can't I can't tell you what a huge amount of my time is spent looping in with leading age writing letters.
[00:23:24] Sharing the perspective that, you know, we can't go we can't go from restrictions to nothing, but we need kind of incremental ability to open up safe based on science. And and so the good news in my mind is that. The states are working on this, right, right as we speak, as well as CMS, so I'm hopeful that when we're together this time in a few weeks, that will have some positive things to share about what vaccinated people can do differently when they live in an aging in a senior living community.
Bryan Reynolds [00:24:12] Yeah, and even during this time, I think there's been some some very positive movement that that, you know, not that everything's opening up completely, but maybe you can talk more about what's going on with our visitation policies and how we've opened up a little bit more programing so that, you know, maybe we're not doing huge gatherings, but there's there's some level of more engagement than maybe there were there.
Laura Lamb [00:24:42] Sure. It sure is. So so we're able two of our two of our three retirement communities to have indoor visits. The third one will be having indoor visits probably within the next week or so. You know, just as a reminder, that's dependent on two things. It's dependent upon the surrounding county, you know, positivity rate, which all of us have a part in that. Right. Right. And then the second is, how many cases have we had internally, staff or residents in the last 14 days? So there's actually just one area of our of one retirement community that we were not allowed to have visits for another few days.
[00:25:22] But those are wonderful because that means families can come into the building. They they can you know, they're socially distanced. But I don't care. I don't know about you, but I can be within 10 feet of my mother-in-law and that feels really, really good.
Bryan Reynolds [00:25:39] Yeah.
Laura Lamb [00:25:41] We are opening the dining rooms in our retirement communities have now we have in dining room dining again. And it's it's a challenge to work through the current guidelines. But our team is really tenacious and creative and they've figured out how to do that. Wellness has added more offerings, more time slots, more ability to maybe exercise with maybe your neighbor in the fitness zone. Again, socially distancing, wearing masks right now. I just I'm I know I've said this a number of times on our podcast. I'm just so impressed with our team and their creativity and their desire to enrich the lives of the residents they serve. So, yeah, every day is another idea, another, hey, we can't do this, but let's do it this way. And it's kind of fun to be a part of that.
Bryan Reynolds [00:26:39] Yeah. So I guess kind of in summary, things are are slowly opening and in some ways not fully. But I think you've always said it's not the closing. That's always the challenge. It's kind of the opening up in a very thoughtful and and to your point, following the science type of way.
Laura Lamb [00:27:01] You know, Bryan, I hate to be right about something, but I don't know why that came to me, that it's this is more challenging. But it is. It is because, like, within a you know, we can shut down really quickly. But how do you open up safely to make sure that your your decisions aren't negatively jeopardizing the health of of those we serve?
Bryan Reynolds [00:27:24] Right. Because we don't want to go back to where we were. Right?
Laura Lamb [00:27:28] No, no, it's not pleasant. But he wants to go back there.
Bryan Reynolds [00:27:32] Yeah, well. And then to really to jump on kind of the innovation of the staff and the team and something that you were, you know, spearheading and really led the team on was our HUD cuts. And I, I wanted to mention to our audience and and give you some some props was we were recently featured on the Spectrum news channel for there kind of an hour long program dedicated to a year and covid. And I know we just got to watch that. That turned out so well, Laura.
Laura Lamb [00:28:07] Oh, thank you, Bryan. I really appreciate it. They I was so impressed with the program, all of it, and just so please, that are crazy how that idea could be broadcasted to hopefully inspire people to say, let's know, what can we do? We just have to focus on the yes. And let's figure out what we can do.
Bryan Reynolds [00:28:33] Yeah, well, for people for our listeners, if they want to go to Spectrum News one dotcom, that's the number one. You can check out that that story. And it's actually I think the second part, they they break it up into three videos and it's the second video where that segment airs, so.
[00:28:53] Well, Laura, thank you for joining us this week and to your point, hopefully in a few more weeks we'll have some more news to share with everyone.
Laura Lamb [00:29:02] I would love that. Thank you, Bryan.
Bryan Reynolds [00:29:09] Well, Kristin, it's always so good to get the updates from Laura. She she has that eye on the entire organization and has really the pulse of what's going on, not just throughout all our communities, but across the nation. And, you know, getting those updates, you know, kind of understand where we stand. You know, as you mentioned before, the segment, people are anxious to kind of get back to life. But we still have a little bit a little bit to go through and kind of get that guidance from not only our national leaders, but our state leaders as well.
Kristin Davenport [00:29:48] That's that's for sure. Bryan, you know, as as somebody that's not only a staff person that's looking to Laura for that leadership and that guidance, you know, also a family member of an older adult. And I'm always eager to hear what Laura thinks about, you know, how things are going and are we opening up at the right pace and is everybody still going to be safe even now that we're all vaccinated or many of us are vaccinated. So it's always good to hear from Laura. She's always advocating for for our residents, for our families, for our staff members. And it's good to have her leadership.
Bryan Reynolds [00:30:26] Definitely so with that being said, you want to introduce our final segment of the show?
Kristin Davenport [00:30:33] That's this is a real pleasure to introduce to our podcast listener Shannon Braun. Shannon is the director of the Center for Memory, Support and Inclusion and Bryan and an and got together this week to talk about what it's like to live through a pandemic if you're supporting someone as a care partner. So here's Bryan and Shannon.
Bryan Reynolds [00:31:07] So I'm here with our director of the Center for Memory Support and Inclusion, Shannon Braun. How are you, Shannon?
Shannon Braun [00:31:15] I'm good, Bryan. How are you?
Bryan Reynolds [00:31:16] Good. Thanks so much for joining us on our podcast. And I think I wanted to start just by introducing you. You've been with us about a year. I think you started right before the pandemic.
Shannon Braun [00:31:28] Yes, I did. I did.
Bryan Reynolds [00:31:31] And so I was wondering if you could kind of describe your role as the director of of the center and and how you support our residents and those out in the broader community.
Shannon Braun [00:31:46] Sure. So I think initially the idea behind the position was to offer education and support for those affected by dementia and their families and and care partners, both within the ERS communities and within the broader community. So with the pandemic, we got derailed a little bit of being able to really expand in the broader community, but really have found the importance of being a source of education for staff and for families and residents that are not only right now impacted by the pandemic, but are also impacted by dementia. So now that things are starting to clear up a little bit, starting to open up, jumping back into educating the community and supporting people all over that are going through the dementia journey.
Bryan Reynolds [00:32:46] Right. Thank you. A recent presentation with residents out in the Anderson area.
Shannon Braun [00:32:51] Yes. Yes. We presented to the Anderson Township Senior Center, and there were also people there from Mt. Washington Presbyterian Church. And they're very energized about helping their constituents that have dementia feel more included and engaged in their programing. So it was really kind of inspiring, even connecting with them and remembering, oh, yeah, this is a need out here and really glad to partner with them and excited to move forward.
Bryan Reynolds [00:33:32] Right now. We've we've worked together for some time. I know. So just a little bit of background for our listeners. ERS is has really increased its support of people living with dementia and those with in their care partners, some through our dementia inclusive Cincinnati partnership. And you were in charge of the early stage program at the Alzheimer's Association of Greater Cincinnati. And and we've added a number of apartments in our assisted living memory support area through that. And so, you know, through that partnership, I knew you were helping develop a lot of the programing with dementia, inclusive Cincinnati starting back, you know, two, three years ago and partnering with some libraries in the area.
Shannon Braun [00:34:31] Yes. So I initially met Laura Lamb and Megan Bradford when I was at the Alzheimer's Association. And my job there was the early stage program coordinator. So, you know, in the early stages of dementia, we really promote brain health. So in addition to a healthy diet and exercise, really prioritizing socialization. So there were so many opportunities to partner with local community resources to offer engagement opportunities. And one was through partnering with the library system and offering memory cafés there. So that's how I really got involved with dementia, inclusive Cincinnati. And it was such a hit. There were so many libraries that wanted our training. It kind of had their own internal waiting list for having us come and educate the staff and have them start some similar programing that Megan and I quickly realized that there was more of an interest in the community than we even realized. So we started educating churches and really taking it more broadly. And it's been had some really great results so far. So excited to continue that work.
Bryan Reynolds [00:35:51] Yeah. So and as you were talking earlier, you know, having joined right before the pandemic and it kind of having to take a step back because we couldn't really go out into the community to do training over the past year. But I. I do think. And I understand that there's been a lot of challenges for those, again, living with dementia and their caregivers through the pandemic, and I'm sure there's even people at that early stage that are maybe trying to figure out if there's something that they need to help their loved ones.
[00:36:28] And so I guess with that being said, with the caregivers spending more time with the loved ones, how can how can that caregiver or that partner really help, you know, in a dementia screening process? What are what are the warning signs that they might want to look for to get help?
Shannon Braun [00:36:47] That's a good question, I think that, you know, the the fact that this pandemic has happened and has created a lot more isolation with people, the warning signs might be more present than they have been before because a lot of times we can kind of hide behind routine and routine really helps people in the early stages of dementia. You don't have to initiate many different variations of things. You just kind of continue on.
[00:37:18] So with a break in the routine, I would imagine that a lot of people are starting to see things a little bit differently. So certainly some of the warning signs to look for a naturally would be a change in memory, mostly that short term memory, not remembering what you eat for breakfast that morning and not remembering people's names, things like that.
[00:37:41] Also sometimes a change in mood, which again, can be complicated right now because I think a lot of people's minds have changed a little bit to depression with isolation, but certainly a mood change. Any language changes, word finding issues become prevalent. And maybe you can't remember the name of the specific bird that you want to refer to, but you just remember the word bird or you reference the rain as water outside. So just you can piece things together with context clues, but you really kind of know that there's a language deficit going on. So that would be another warning sign to look for to.
Bryan Reynolds [00:38:24] Right. And so I can imagine once somebody is being diagnosed or if they've been previously diagnosed, you know, there were a number of resources, particularly those in the community, greater community that were available that they probably haven't had access to. So, you know, there's a real need to pivot and how we support those living with dementia and Alzheimer's. Do you have any kind of tips for for people? I know there's still some programing virtually with some of the libraries, but do you have any other tips or or resources that that might be helpful?
Shannon Braun [00:39:01] Yeah, I think that the virtual piece has been an interesting one. I think it's been more challenging for people with dementia to really embrace the virtual nature of how we communicate right now. But it still can happen. And I think the the unique thing about Zoom and about other virtual platforms is that we all kind of learn together.
[00:39:24] I don't think I mean, I had never really heard much about Zoom before this. So we're all starting from the same plane. And that maybe is comforting to people with dementia to jump on board or even just older adults in general that maybe would shied away from technology in the past. So I do think that people are giving virtual things to try. Virtual support groups are much different than in-person support groups. But as with other things this past year, we are surprising ourselves with what we can grow accustomed to and and how we can still stay connected with other people. So I think the key for their partners or or people that are living with loved ones that have dementia is to just stay connected and to reach out to family and friends. And, you know, if you used to grab lunch with your girlfriends, you know, once a week, and now you can't really make sure that you set time aside to connect over the phone or over the computer and seek support individually because it is so important to stay connected and not really turn in and isolate just because of the lack of ability to go out and about.
Bryan Reynolds [00:40:46] Yeah, I don't want a part of this effort, but we recently had a marketing event that had Robert Evans, who works, does some horticultural therapy, and we had some residents with dementia and their care partners doing that together. So finding some of those opportunities can really be a nice way of engaging as well.
Shannon Braun [00:41:06] Absolutely. Absolutely.
Bryan Reynolds [00:41:09] So I know, you know, one of the things in your purview and you work with the community is on training. And I have I had a recent conversation with somebody, you know, that that was new to, you know, being around somebody that's living with dementia and Alzheimer's. And I heard in their conversation them kind of trying to correct the other person in terms of their orientation, of where they were the time. And I know one of the trainings that that we've developed and you've been a. Part of is the yes and training, and I wondered if you could kind of talk about the that this kind of way of improving and building on their stories so that we're not correcting people, but kind of. Kind of. Disarming or keeping them calm, but but as a way of really building on to where they're at and the car.
Shannon Braun [00:42:09] Sure, sure. So I think ultimately it's it's the challenge, I think, is to really understand at the beginning that when you have someone with dementia, we're ultimately living in separate realities. And because our reality is really just our perception of of the truth. So it's only a one way street. I think people that have cognitive loss in their brain, they lose the ability to kind of see things from different perspectives. If I have a brain that is able to do that, then I know that I have to join in a reality. They can't join mine. So using improv is really a tool to help us do that. When and the tenant of of improv is. Yes. And so yes means that I'm agreeing with the scenario that you've created and and means I'm joining it.
[00:43:06] So I think really that the key to that tool is. That a successful engagement with someone with dementia is just staying engaged as being able to communicate, it's so natural for us to want to correct something that we know to be untrue. That is the most natural thing. So it does take some training of your own mind to develop that kind of skill, to be able to say yes and and join someone else's reality. But ultimately, what you're doing is recognizing that the feelings between the two people matter more than the facts do and that a successful encounter is really true engagement. And you can keep that going longer if you're able to say yes, and we did this the other day or or whatever the scenario is that that the person with dementia has has defined.
Bryan Reynolds [00:44:05] Right. Well, that that sounds very wise. And, you know, to your point, it just kind of keeps things more calm and settled in the long run. So so I wanted to before we go, I wanted to ask you more of a personal question. And you've been doing this for a while and working with the community and care partners and those living with dementia. Why is it so rewarding for you to to to do the work that you're doing?
Shannon Braun [00:44:36] Good question. I, I think that. It didn't take me long when I started doing work with people with dementia and their care partners to really feel connected to them, it's a cause that's near and dear to my heart. My grandmother had dementia and lived with our family when I was in high school. And I think, you know, looking back, I was 17 and probably not as helpful to my mom as I could have been. So I think knowing that and realizing that I do have a soft spot for people with dementia and anyone who a caregiver, because I just think it's the most challenging thing that I I've learned and especially relearned during the pandemic that there's such a need and that I really enjoy the connection that it's challenging.
[00:45:35] But once you once you get there and if you're able to stay on your toes a little bit and have a plan B, C and D in your back pocket at all times, that I've really enjoyed being able to engage with people with dementia. I think we're all learning a little bit more about isolation than we ever cared to. And it's just all the more rewarding to help people that maybe are already feeling isolated within their own minds. So I've really been able to appreciate that aspect of it. So.
Bryan Reynolds [00:46:08] Yeah, well, like you said, it is so challenging. And I know there's so many people that are very grateful for the support you've offered, whether it be throughout the city of Cincinnati or within our communities. Shannon, thank you so much for joining us this week. And we'll look forward to having you back here soon to kind of pick your brain for some more more ideas.
Shannon Braun [00:46:31] I'm happy to do it.
Kristin Davenport [00:46:37] Well, Bryan for our listeners who might be in this position of being a care partner, I'm sure they enjoyed meeting Shannon through our podcast and hearing some some great ways that they can maybe enhance their relationship with their with their loved one.
Bryan Reynolds [00:46:54] Yeah, she is certainly a great resource of information for our community, for our retirement communities. And we're just so lucky to have her and she's so passionate about this. And so I hope our listeners really enjoyed hearing from her. We'll definitely have her back on in the near future as well to share, you know, more of that great information that that that she really has and the experience that she has. Well, that's it for this recent episode of the Linkage podcast by Episcopal Retirement Services. For more information about us, you can visit our website at EpiscopalRetirement.com. We've lots of great content, including including our Linkage online blog resources to learn more about aging and the services we offer and much, much more. You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube to see what's going on within ERS and our communities. If you have any questions or feedback for us, please email us at info@ERSlife.org. We love hearing from our listeners and love getting questions. Linkage podcast is produced by Kristin Davenport and Bryan Reynolds. Feoshia Davis is our associate producer and our technical director is Michelle Hoehn. I'd like to thank our guests today, including Betty Weigand and Shannon Bryan and of course, a special thank you to our president and CEO Laura Lamb for always being available to give an update on what's going on within ERS on behalf of myself, Bryan Reynolds and Kristin Davenport. Thank you so much for joining us. We look forward to joining our podcast in the next few weeks. Thanks, Kristin.
Kristin Davenport [00:48:36] Thank you, Bryan. Looking forward to our next conversation.