Deborah Cooke, geronotologist and certified dementia care provider and specialist


Deborah Cooke, MS, is a healthcare administrator with a strong interest in dementia and delirium care, the aging experience, caregiver stress, intergenerational programming, quality improvement, palliative care, and long term care. She is a certified dementia care provider and specialist through the Alzheimer's Foundation of America. She has 20 years of experience working with the aging and caregiver communities.

Deborah currently is a clinical project manager for NYU Langone Medical Center. In this role, she works with physicians and staff to provide quality care for patients and families in both the inpatient and outpatient settings. She previously worked at CenterLight Healthcare, a managed long term care organization, as a Project Manager and Assistant Director of Operations. She also was the Elder Life Specialist at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital where she developed and managed multidisciplinary programs to enhance quality care for hospitalized seniors and other vulnerable patients by optimizing mental, physical, and emotional well-being during the hospital stay. In addition, Deborah served on the board of NewYork-Presbyterian's Patient and Family Education Advisory Committee.

Deborah has a master's degree in management from New York University, a graduate certificate in gerontology and bachelor's degree in kinesiology and health from Georgia State University. Her management skills include quality and performance improvement, process design, project management, program development, strategic planning, education, and human resources management.

Why I Care

"The last population I ever thought I would work with was seniors. When I thought of an 'old' person, I looked through the glasses of a young, ageist girl. My paternal grandmother had suffered a stroke and her personality changed. She suddenly was in a nursing home, disabled, and cussing at me and my little brother. I could not tolerate it and I left. My brother stayed. I always admired his ability to look past the poor behavior and give her unconditional love. He even kept vigil at her bedside through her slow journey to the next life. Many years later my college professor asked me if I wanted a job. Like all eager graduates, I said, 'Yes.'

"At the Atlanta VA Hospital, I was project manager for a research study examining the long-term effects of strength training on robust seniors. The conversations I heard while they exercised were astounding: a lot of sex, politics, and shared aches and pains. One of my exercise groups was entirely men. They liked to call their time together 'Bible Study.' We all know the topics were anything but bible-worthy. I quickly became interested in understanding more about the aging experience. I was hooked and enrolled in a graduate certificate program in gerontology. I haven't looked back.

"My work in aging continues with frail older adults, and yes, those who cuss at me. I enjoy the unique challenges of those with dementia, supporting the caregivers, working in a team environment, and simply providing the TLC every human seeks and desires. In my work with dementia individuals and those who are dying, I discovered I cannot control what happened moments ago, nor what will happen. I can only make a difference now, and that is why I am here."


Recently Published on Caring.com

My 92-year-old mother-in-law thinks her deceased husband is having an affair. How can we put an end to this upsetting delusion? — Sep 02, 2014
Hi DBB. You are not alone in this. Your mother's experience is rather prevalent in the dementia population. My grandmother had the same accusations. Unfortunately, rati...
Can I take my mother (who has dementia) on a 15-hour flight to fulfill her wish to visit the Sequoia National Park? — Jul 14, 2014
Hi. Your situation is not an uncommon one among caregivers. I agree with Dr. Volicer and Dr. Lambert. This journey may be too much for your mother and you. To Dr. Volic...
How Do I Keep my Dad From Leaving the House at Night? — Jan 23, 2013
Hi. This is very frustrating for many people. Making adaptations to the environment is important and finding the right one can be difficult. In addition to the environme...
How do you get someone to accept memory loss? — Oct 18, 2012
Good morning. I hear your extreme frustration. Unfortunately, it's difficult for a person with memory loss to accept their deficiencies. They have developed a new realit...
How do I make my Mother go see a doctor when she flatly refuses? — Sep 04, 2012
I feel your pain. You are in a tough spot and you are not alone. Connie gave a thorough and excellent answer. You have embarked on a stressful, frustrating, and difficul...
How should I tell medical professionals that Mom can no longer answer their questions? — Oct 19, 2011
This is an interesting dilemma. Informing the doctors and nurses of the dementia is definitely necessary. Any medical professional should be obtaining and completing a ve...
Should I let my mother with dementia sleep all day? — Oct 10, 2011
Sleep changes in dementia individuals is not uncommon, even though it is extremely frustrating. Ask yourself these questions: Does this behavior seem to bother her, make...
My mother forgets to turn off the faucet after she uses it, what should I do? — Oct 10, 2011
Goodness. This one is tough. I've been racking my brain to come up with some ideas. My best suggestion is to try posting notes around the sink and bathroom door. Write ...
Where can I find an activity center in my area for individuals mildly affected with Alzheimer's? — Sep 07, 2011
Hi. I'm glad to hear you are thinking of alternatives to provide an active and productive lifestyle for your spouse. I suggest trying your local area agency on aging to s...
How can I manage the stress of caregiving for someone with sundown syndrome? — Aug 09, 2011
Cathy, all of your feelings are completely valid and normal. I'm so happy to hear you are seeking professional health. Talking to someone is very important, be it a frien...