By Rachael Wonderlin
I started my blog, Dementia By Day, three years ago. I had no idea, then, that it would become such a huge part of my life. At the time, I was working for Brookdale Senior Living in North Carolina. I had just finished my Master’s degree in Gerontology at UNC Greensboro, and I was thrilled about my first full-time job in dementia care. My title was “Memory Care Program Manager,” but I did a lot more than manage the activity department. I helped to redesign the community’s look and feel. I completely redesigned the calendar. (In fact, I checked online, the current calendar is still very similar to the first one I made!)
I loved working there, and my friends and family enjoyed hearing my stories about dementia care. “You should write a book,” people kept saying. I had always wanted to write a book, but I never pictured it would be a book on dementia care. Finally, I decided to look into it. Instead of publishing it myself, which was my first plan, a professor from my alma mater told me to look into professional publishers. Johns Hopkins University Press was very interested in my book because they have found much success with their book, The 36-Hour Day. My book is designed as a companion piece to The 36-Hour Day, and I am very proud of that fact.
There are not many resources out there for families who are considering long-term dementia care communities for their loved ones. While there is a lot of information about caring for someone at home, there really isn’t much for those trying to decide on community care. That is why I focused so much on care communities in my book. I really wanted a way to teach caregivers that they didn’t need to feel so guilty about moving a loved one into a care community. I wanted to create a book where caregivers could get the answers to their tough questions.
I have had a lot of caregivers reach out to me about the book and about my blog. Overwhelmingly, my readers have told me that they feel less guilty about making tough decisions on their loved ones’ behalf. I love that I can help them. Dementia caregiving is hard enough, and it is a lot more challenging when you’re internalizing a lot of guilt.
When you know one person with dementia, you know one person with dementia. I have met hundreds, if not thousands, of people with dementia. I tell a lot of true stories in my book, and many of these stories are directly from my experience with my residents in care communities. I think this can really help caregivers relate. A number of readers have contacted me to say, “Wow, this one part really reminded me of my mom,” or, “There were a few chapters that described what I am going through perfectly.” That is exactly the type of reader experience I was going for.
About the Author
Rachael Wonderlin has a Master's in Gerontology and owns Dementia By Day, LLC. Her book, When Someone You Know is Living in a Dementia Care Community, was published in November 2016 with Johns Hopkins University Press. She is a consultant, speaker, and community designer.
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