Forty years ago, Volunteers of America committed to serving the care needs of increasing numbers of aging persons with the opening of Maplewood Care Center, a skilled nursing facility in St. Paul, Minn.

Today, we continue this commitment by providing housing, home care, adult day care, assisted living, transitional and rehabilitative care, PACE and long-term skilled care and services to thousands of senior persons each year in several states. Long-term care delivery has evolved since the first nursing homes were built, particularly in the specialty of caring for persons with dementia.

In those early years, best practice was to use “reality orientation” as a means to bring the impaired person out of memories into the here and now. This accepted practice had caregivers telling those suffering with dementia in their care such things as, “No, you can’t see your husband now. Remember? He passed away five years ago. You live here with us now.” This approach was not only ineffective, but it almost always elevated frustration and emotional distress.

Fortunately, an enlightened woman with a pioneer spirit saw the need for a new approach. Meet Naomi Feil, developer of Validation, a method for communicating with severely disoriented, “old-old” people.