Joe came to Alzheimer’s Family Center (AFC) through the Department of Veterans Affairs. Always joyful and eager to chat and joke, Joe likes to reminisce in the many languages that he speaks about the time he was in the military, or when he would go fishing – his true passion.
Joe Ripley grew up near Houston, Texas in a Mexican family. “Both my parents were Hispanic,” he says, “but my paternal grandfather came from Europe, and my maternal grandfather was pure Native American.” Joe is fluent in many languages, including Spanish, and never misses an opportunity to speak in the foreign languages that he knows with staff or other patients.
“I traveled a lot over the 20 years that I worked in the Army and the Navy. My favorite place in Asia is Japan. I love everything about it: the cleanliness, the food, the people, the atmosphere.” As we speak, he sees the cover of our past newsletter where the title reads ‘Meet Kazuko’. “She must be Japanese”, he says, and then starts speaking a few words in Japanese. “He is fluent in Japanese,” Joe’s wife explains. “Or so I’ve been told by our friends who speak Japanese. I don’t speak the language so I wouldn’t know.”
Joe and his wife Rose met in San Antonio, Texas, where he was stationed for a while. They have been married for 64 years and have three children, two sons and one daughter. “We devoted our lives to our kids,” says Rose. “We adopted our first son right before moving to La Paz in Bolivia, where Joe had a two-year contract. While it was a great experience for Joe, I had to go back to the states early due to our son’s allergy to altitude, and a very difficult pregnancy for me. After he left the navy, we ran our own business for about 15 years. We were interpreters in the medical field for Spanish-speaking people in the U.S.”
Rose explains that she first heard about AFC during a Caregiver Support Group at the Cypress Senior Center. “Joe has had Alzheimer’s disease for about three years now, and has been going to the center for one year. The first two years were extremely difficult for me. I was really stressed out and depressed. But things have been a lot better since he started attending Alzheimer’s Family Center.”
“The first days at the center were very hard for him, but now he loves it! And I love it too. I can have a little time for myself. He uses the transportation service that the center provides, which is great.”
Joe adds: “I love coming here (AFC)! My favorite thing to do is to play the brain games on the computer and Bingo. I have met some great people here too.”