An interview with Carrie Aalberts, aka Dementia Darling: You are not alone: an often isolating journey in Dementia on November 28, 2023 by George Ackerman, Ph.D, J.D.
Carrie Aalbers aka Dementia Darling has her Master of Science focused in Gerontology and has eleven years experience working in senior care and technology. She has devoted her career to supporting the dementia community, specifically cheering on dementia caregivers on social media, @dementiadarling. Carrie advocates for a better quality of life for all on the dementia journey.
Please tell me a little about your background.
My grandmother on my father’s side, unfortunately, passed from dementia. That always stuck with me and I knew I wanted to learn more about what happened. I ended up studying Gerontology, the study of aging, in college. I received both my Bachelors and Masters focusing on Gerontology and Alzheimer’s care. I had the best job through college working at an intergenerational adult day care center and this solidified my love for the work and my passion going forward. I went on to work in memory care activities, senior services, and now dementia innovations and technology. I started Dementia Darling, four years ago after feeling like I needed to get more awareness out about the struggle’s dementia caregivers endure. I love sharing resources and support for our community because it can be incredibly isolating. I work for the amazing company called Eugeria, as a Care Advisor. My job is really fun because I get to share innovations for dementia care from all over the world.
Can you tell me more about your organization?
My mission is to make sure no caregiver ever feels alone. I share posts of support, education, and love to the dementia community and anyone who would like to learn about dementia and caregivers. I am on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok as @dementiadarling.
What is your passion and how did you get involved in dementia awareness and hope for a cure?
My grandmother’s journey with dementia and my father’s journey as a caregiver started my passion and it was fueled by caring for people living with dementia and the amazing family caregivers I have met throughout my career! I dedicate it all to them for teaching me so much.
What type of goals do individuals with dementia have when working with you?
My goal is always to improve their quality of life. Whether that is to support their caregivers in finding ways to provide more person-centered care or by creating moments when I am with them, myself!
What type of training and how long are the programs?
I do not provide training personally; I hope to one day! There are plenty of amazing options out there, however, I highly recommend Teepa Snow’s Positive Approach to Care trainings and teachings.
What effect can it have on an individual with dementia?
Having more skilled, educated, and supported caregivers means BETTER care!
What would you like to see as a future goal for your programs?
To share that caregivers are not alone and do not need to do this alone.
What events do you participate in?
I travel all over North America for conferences and events in the senior care industry.
How does this also assist the caregivers?
I share resources that can help all caregivers provide better care!
How can someone get in touch? What is your website?
How can others also become advocates for awareness?
Speak up! Share your stories and lift up other caregivers’ voices!
In your opinion what is the key to effective advocacy?
Being authentic and open about our personal experiences. Breaking stigma!
How can we better fundraise to support a cure for dementia?
Be more inclusive and understanding of all causes of dementia and not only Alzheimer’s.
What other activities do you undertake to help improve and support your daily living Eg exercise and alternative remedies?
I make an effort to take time for myself and do things that fill my soul. I need time alone after traveling a lot for work, and so I have to prioritize that so I can show up as my best self!
Why should people who don’t have dementia care about this?
Because we all have a brain, and everyone will be touched by dementia in some way or another with the growing numbers of prevalence.
Have you had any family members or relatives affected by dementia?
Yes, my grandmother on my father’s side.
If you had one final statement or quote you could leave for the dementia community, what would it be?
I love you, I see you, thank you for showing up! You are NOT alone!
If you had one song that would tell us more about you or represent your life which song would it be?
That’s a hard one, I would say the song Here Comes the Sun by The Beatles, I am always trying to look for the positive that is coming!