About Me

Everyone teaches the same boring stuff when it comes to dementia care.

Learn how I’m different. I take positive communication a step further: don’t just “validate,” don’t “redirect or distract,” instead, truly, actually, live in the world of the person living with dementia. Here’s the bottom line: we need to stop telling people “not to lie to someone living with dementia.” It’s confusing, it’s black-and-white, it’s too simple. Dementia caregiving is anything but inside-the-box. Read more about my work and how to Embrace Someone’s Reality.

With one of my two cats, Shooz

Where did I come from, and how do I know all this stuff about dementia?

That’s a great question and it’s one I usually address immediately upon taking the stage at a conference. Frankly, I don’t want people trying to do a bunch of math, trying to figure out how old I must be, or where my now-nondescript accent came from. I’ll tell you: I’m 30 and I’m originally from New Jersey.

I work with senior living companies who want to elevate their dementia care—it’s my greatest passion to make senior living more dementia-friendly, more dementia-focused and more accessible to stressed families. I started volunteering in a dementia care community when I was 15. My friend Megan said, “Hey, you’re pretty good at talking to old people, maybe when you grow up you can do that for a living.” And so I did.

So, what’s my educational background and experience in this area?

I have a Bachelor’s in Psychology from the University of Mary Washington and a Master’s in Gerontology from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. I started interning at the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Memory Center over the summer while in graduate school and absolutely loved it. After graduating, I went on to work at a Brookdale Senior Living community in NC as their Dementia Program Manager.

I started my now-popular blog, Dementia By Day, while working there. I moved to Pittsburgh, PA a year or so later and worked in two different senior living communities as their Dementia Care Director.

Finally, I wanted to do my own thing. In September of 2016, I started my own business. My book, “When Someone You Know is Living in a Dementia Care Community,” came out that same year and is published by Johns Hopkins University Press. I’m currently working on two more books for JHU Press, due out in 2020 and 2021.

What else? I’ve been doing improv comedy for over nine years, sketch comedy for over four, and I started out as a film actress. That’s right: I was in videos and commercials and (sometimes) movies as a kid. I love being on stage and doing voiceover and film work.

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Rachael Wonderlin, photo by Zane Cook
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