Who is Teepa?
Teepa’s experience in neurological impairment care spans both her personal and professional worlds. Early in her life, her grandfather moved into her family’s house due to his changing abilities. However, at the time words such as eccentric then senile were used. Later on, she helped provide support for other family members with various forms of brain change. As a teenager, Teepa started by volunteering with a group in order to work with children with various developmental disabilities. This group included her much younger sister, who had developed an inoperable brain tumor by age three, leaving her with lasting severe developmental issues. By the time she started college at Duke University, Teepa had been a nursing assistant, before there was a certification, and a volunteer in day programs and hospitals near campus.
After graduating Magna Cum Laude from Duke University with a degree in zoology, Teepa worked as a night-time desk clerk at the Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill, NC. She then went from volunteering at a day program that served elders and people with developmental disabilities to being a full-time assistant there, while she explored what she wanted to do professionally. In 1978, she entered the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill’s (UNC-CH) brand-new Occupational Therapy (OT) Master’s Program and was in its first graduating class in 1980. She gave her first speech to over 500 OTs in San Antonio, Texas, under the direction of Joan Rogers. She finished her 30-minute presentation in under 20 minutes. Lots of nervous energy, to say the least, but a great way to get over her fear of speaking in a hurry. Shortly after that, she published her first article with Joan in the official journal of the American Occupational Therapy Association. After graduation, Teepa consulted in a continuing care retirement community, two local home health companies, and a local nursing home for two years until she began working with UNC.
Teepa was an interdisciplinary team member and clinical associate professor at the UNC-CH School of Medicine's Program on Aging, and a coordinator and care manager for CAP Medicaid waiver services in North Carolina. She has served in a wide variety of leadership and advisory positions in professional organizations at both the state and national levels, including the Alzheimer's Association, Alzheimer's Foundation of America, AOTA, and NBCOT. She’s currently working with a number of national and international projects and organizations. She is currently on the board of the US Dementia Action Alliance, the Alzheimers Support Network in Naples, Florida, and has been asked to join the Advisory Board of Dementia Alliance International, led by Kate Swaffer.
Teepa is an advocate for those living with dementia and has made it her personal mission to help families and professionals better understand how it feels to be living with the challenges and changes that accompany various forms of the condition so that life can be lived fully and well. Her company, Positive Approach to Care, was founded in 2005 and offers education to family and professional care providers all over the world. Her training, services, and products are available through video, online education, and in-person trainings and consulting.