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."