How the Best Friends™ Approach Brings Out the Best in Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care Residents

March 21, 2024


At Moorings Park Communities’ three Naples-based locations, we believe that exceptional care for individuals with Alzheimer's, dementia, or cognitive impairment should go beyond meeting basic needs. Their award-winning Assisted Living and Memory Care residences are recognized leaders in this field that foster a sense of security, purpose, and connection for their residents. This dedication to excellence is exemplified by their utilization of the renowned Best Friends™ Approach, a philosophy co-founded by David Troxel, a pioneer in memory care.

The Power of Friendship: The Best Friends™ Approach

The Best Friends™ Approach was developed by Virginia Bell and David Troxel in 1997 while they were working at the University of Kentucky Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center. Based on their experiences during this time, they were able to determine what a person with memory loss needs most. 

“What a person with memory loss needs most is a best friend. Someone who is empathetic, supportive, and expresses their warmth and goodwill,” says Troxel. “The Best Friends™ Approach to Alzheimer’s is about relationships, engagement, and helping the person affected feel safe, secure, and valued. This idea of recasting the relationship as being less task-oriented and more person-centric is really the philosophy.” 

The Best Friends™ Approach is now regarded internationally as an accumulation of the best practices in memory care, and Moorings Park Communities is the first organization in Florida to formally license it. Many members of the Moorings Park Communities team have become certified Best Friends™ master trainers, and the programs at both Oakstone and Orchid Terrace are designed around Best Friends™ principles, which emphasize things like practicing patience and understanding, fostering meaningful engagement, creating a safe and secure environment, and implementing the Dementia Bill of Rights. Every person experiencing memory loss, whether caused by dementia, Alzheimer’s, or mild cognitive impairment deserves appropriate care, a community of advocates, and to be treated with respect and dignity. 

“Our assisted living and memory care services are centered around compassionate care to residents. When a resident experiences memory loss, we engage with them in a way that truly embodies how we would treat our own best friends, emphasizing empathy, respect, support, trust, and humor, the essential elements to any friendship,” says Oakstone administrator Emma Jones. 

From individualized healthcare to engaging programs and activities, Moorings Park Communities offers fulfilling, compassionate services across their assisted living and memory care residences that are designed to improve residents’ quality of life and enhance their physical, intellectual, and spiritual wellness. However, the Best Friends™ Approach was created to help everyone affected by Alzheimer’s, especially caregivers, whether family or staff. 

“One of my goals at Moorings Park in meeting with staff, residents, and family is contemporary memory care: how to bring out the best in people with dementia. When you learn how to be an effective caregiver, caregiving becomes easier. What’s so important is to take away some of the strain for these individuals, as caregiving can be very stressful.” 

Memory Care Programs Striving for Excellence

Moorings Park Communities’ connection with David Troxel extends beyond mere certification. He acts as a consultant in the development of the memory care programs offered and ensures they are aligned with the core principles of the Best Friends™ Approach.

What struck me about the team at Moorings Park Communities is their ambition to offer contemporary memory care and encourage people to live the best life they could be by creating a therapeutic healing environment,” says Troxel. “The entire leadership team, from top to bottom, has a keen interest in dementia. Many of them have been touched by dementia, and what really impressed me is their desire to be the best. They want to give residents the quality of life they deserve.”

During his visits to Moorings Park Communities, David has hosted seminars and met with leadership and staff, along with residents and their families, in order to share and spread new developments in the Best Friends Approach and consult on everything from new buildings to program philosophy and staff training. In fact, Moorings Park Communities has been included in several of Troxel and Bell’s books, including their latest edition The Best Friends Staff: Learning to Deliver Exceptional Dementia Care. This updated edition of the bestselling book includes stories from successful dementia programs such as those found at Moorings Park Communities, among other things. 

“I am always incredibly impressed by the culture at Moorings Park,” says Troxel. “I have really enjoyed a long time friendship with the team there.”

Successful aging is a defining aspect of the culture at Moorings Park Communities. It is a multifaceted concept that encompasses self-worth, meaningful relationships, spiritual growth, wellness, and a sense of wholeness, and the core tenets of the Best Friends™ Approach align perfectly with these values. By being a Best Friend™ or receiving Best Friend™ care, residents and caregivers are empowered to experience some of the defining traits of successful aging every day: meaningful engagement, patience and empathy, and positive communication. 

While the aging process is unique for everyone, Moorings Park Communities is dedicated to providing exceptional care across this spectrum, including to those affected by Alzheimer's, dementia, or cognitive impairment. The Oakstone and Orchid Terrace assisted living and memory care residences offer residents a secure and supportive environment with dedicated staff trained in the Best Friends™ Approach. Through personalized plans and a wide range of activities, Moorings Park Communities strives to maximize each resident's abilities and promote a sense of well-being. Every resident in Independent Living knows that higher levels of care are readily available, if necessary, while families have the confidence that Moorings Park Communities is prepared to meet their loved one's evolving needs. This eliminates unnecessary stress for residents, allowing them to focus on enjoying an enriching lifestyle. 

Join Moorings Park Communities on Your Journey to Successful Aging

For over 40 years, Moorings Park Communities has been providing compassionate care to residents and members of the general public. Residents take comfort in knowing that higher levels of care are readily available to them at Orchid Terrace and Oakstone Assisted Living and Memory Care centers of excellence. If you’re interested in learning more, contact Moorings Park Communities to schedule your private tour.

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