Josie Beierl received her Nursing Assistant Certification in her senior year of high school and has worked in Assisted Living facilities with specialties in memory care, nursing homes, and adult day programs. When she learned about a social work practicum experience at the Memory and Brain Wellness Center's Memory Hub, she jumped at the opportunity to work with people living with memory loss and dementia.
In this spotlight, she talks about her new role and experience at the Memory Hub:
Where does your interest in dementia social work come from?
In 2012, my grandfather, whom I was very close with, was diagnosed with vascular dementia. Because I was in between jobs and had a nursing license, I became one of his main caregivers. I was given the unique opportunity to see how this disease progressed and affected my grandfather. When it got to the point where he was no longer safe to be at someone's home and have a family caregiver, he went to live at an Assisted Living home. I remember feeling so bad that his needs were now beyond my care capabilities but also upset that there wasn't any magic fix or cure to help my grandpa with this illness. That was when I became passionate in learning more about dementia and how to help all the different aspects of the disease and how it impacts it.
What are you learning and doing in your new role at the Memory and Brain Wellness Center’s Memory Hub?
I have looked forward to every single role that I have been given at the MBWC. I was excited about the different types of virtual and in-person groups for both caregivers and people with memory loss offered at the Memory Hub and have loved every single session. Being a part of these support groups has really given me such insight on how the participants are feeling and seeing all the nuances of how they are dealing with the progression of the disease. It has been indispensable, and I feel so fortunate to be allowed into their lives in that capacity.
What is a project or initiative here that excites you?
I was very excited for Legacy Letters program to begin and so far, that has been more rewarding than I anticipated. In this program, participants are guided through sharing and preparing an important story from their lives in partnership with a UW student. I also have loved being involved with ADAPT, which is a 3-week brain and body wellness bootcamp where people come together to reinforce strategies for living well with memory loss.. I am excited to listen in on one of the MBWC ECHO Dementia meetings as well, where front-line care providers from around Washington State meet in a web-based virtual conference room with an interdisciplinary panel of experts in memory loss and dementia.
What do you like to do outside of work? Any hobbies or passions?
Outside of work, I like to spend time with my family. I recently had a baby boy, Nolan, and it has been so fun watching my older kids interact and play with him. I was a competitive dancer growing up, so dancing has always been my passion. I am also an avid reader and huge movie buff.