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What is Best Friends?

David Troxel and Virginia BellIntroduced more than 20 years ago by Virginia Bell, M.S.W., and David Troxel, M.P.H., as a model way to provide Memory Care services, this care philosophy has achieved an international reputation for its positive outcomes. The person-centered Best Friends™ approach is grounded in the understanding that relationships are supremely important in dementia care and should reflect the essential elements of friendship: respect, empathy, support, trust, humor. Communities following the Best Friends™ approach care for the whole person—physically, emotionally, and spiritually—in ways that bring meaning, security, and joy to residents’ daily lives. Staff also enjoy greater success and satisfaction in their work, and families feel confident when their loved one is cared for following the Best Friends™ model. The Best Friends™ approach promotes the dignity and individual rights of people with memory loss through knowing the history and preferences of each resident, communicating skillfully, and providing a supportive environment and meaningful engagement.


With Best Friends™ publications you get practical, everyday tips and strategies for use by your organization, staff, and families for providing improved dementia care practices. View all.


Get everyone on board with introductory and advanced training in the Best Friends™ approach. Also, professionals who are experienced with this person-centered care model may pursue certification as a Master Trainer and provide their organization with in-service training and the distinction of calling their work setting a Best Friends™ Environment. Learn more.


Create a special program featuring the Best Friends™ approach! In the U.S., Canada, and internationally, state-level agencies, Alzheimer’s Association chapters, and corporations providing care in a variety of settings have found that the use of this adaptable approach improves not only the quality of care for the people they serve but the efficacy and satisfaction of staff.

Maybe you’re a corporation that wants to adopt Best Friends™ company-wide, a small network of providers that wants shared access to Best Friends™ content on a closed company server, or a state or local agency organizing a regional training initiative to promote best practices. Learn more about the advantages of associating your organization’s programming with the Best Friends™ brand.


In addition to selling in the English language throughout the world via distributors located in the U.K., Canada, Australia, South and Central America, Asia, India, and the Middle East, the Best Friends™ books have garnered the attention of publishers from around the world responding to the international interest in and adoption of the Best Friends™ approach.

To date, translations include:

  • The Best Friends Approach to Alzheimer’s Care: Arabic (first-ever Alzheimer’s book in Arabic, published by Alzheimer’s Association Lebanon), German (Ernst Reindardt Verlag), Italian (Armando Editore), Spanish (Editorial Herder Mexico)
  • The Best Friends Staff: German (Ernst Reinhardt Verlag)
  • The Best Friends Book of Alzheimer’s Activities, Volume 1: German (Ernst Reinhardt Verlag)
  • A Dignified Life: Korean (HCI and Montreal-Contacts/The Rights Agency), Chinese (HCI and PsyGarden Publishing, Taiwan)
  • The Original Alzheimer’s Disease Bill of Rights: Translated in Arabic, Cantonese, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish, and many more languages. These translations have appeared in numerous newsletters, journals, web site pages, and conference materials worldwide.

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