Charlotte Arbogast coordinates dementia services for Virginia
Harrisonburg native Charlotte Arbogast has been the Commonwealth’s first dementia services coordinator for the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services since July 2013. Before that, she spent a year as a policy analyst for the Virginia Department of Health. She attends many meetings and, at just 27, is almost always the youngest person in the room.
While she was in high school, Charlotte enjoyed spending time with her grandfather and other residents who had Alzheimer’s disease at a local assisted living facility.
She watched her mother, Ellen Swecker, struggle to meet the needs of her children (Charlotte has a twin brother, Brent) and her father while managing her own career. That experience influenced Charlotte to sign up for a work-study job at the Beard Center on Aging while she was majoring in history at Lynchburg College.
During her three years working for the center, she coordinated events, did research for presentations, helped plan and prepare for an annual conference on aging, and more. She was appointed to the Virginia Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders Commission at the beginning of her senior year. As one of the lead writers of Virginia’s 2011 Dementia State Plan, she travelled to many regional meetings for public comment from caregivers. In 2013, the Virginia General Assembly approved the creation of a new position, dementia services coordinator, to implement the state’s plan. Charlotte, who had completed an M.S. in gerontology from Virginia Commonwealth University and a postbaccalaureate certificate in public management, was hired to fill the new position. Charlotte got married to David Malakouti last spring, and they live in Richmond.
Her advice to young people is to take studies beyond the classroom by volunteering and seeking internships and a variety of jobs. “Dip your toes in the water and try different things to see what speaks to you while you still have that freedom,” says Charlotte. Charlotte also encourages readers to visit www.alzpossible.org, dars.virginia.gov/ and www.alz.org for free webinars and other information related to her career in the field of aging.
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