As many as 5.1 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia among older adults, affecting the parts of the brain that control memory, language, reasoning and social behavior and seriously affecting a person’s ability to carry out daily activities. Although scientists continue to study Alzheimer’s, the cause of the disease is still unknown. Therefore, a cure for Alzheimer’s is yet to be discovered. Validation method, developed by Naomi Feil, teaches caregivers methods for communicating with those with Alzheimer’s, helping them find love, respect and peace through their end-of-life journey. Volunteers of America is an authorized validation organization (AVO) and has provided Validation training to thousands of family members and professional caregivers, who, in turn, have the ability to touch thousands of people in varying stages of Alzheimer’s.
As the population ages, Alzheimer’s disease impacts a greater percentage of Americans.
The number of people age 65 and older will more than double between 2010 and 2050 to 88.5 million or 20 percent of the population; likewise, those 85 and older will rise three-fold, to 19 million. Volunteers of America provides care for a growing number of those suffering from Alzheimer’s and their families, in a variety of community and facility-based settings across the country. We recognize the need and opportunity for integrating Validation into the organizational culture and becoming a leader in teaching Validation locally, regionally and nationally. Validation aligns with Volunteers of America’s Aging with Options initiative, and ongoing development of home and community-based services.
Volunteers of America offers Validation workshops, webinars and classes to families, community members, churches and caregivers.
Since becoming an AVO in 2010, Volunteers of America has provided classes nationally and internationally, impacting hundreds of community and senior service organizations. Classes vary from a one-hour presentation for families to an extensive one year certification class for professional caregivers. Volunteers of America employs three Certified Validation Teachers and four more Group Workers in the final stage of becoming a teacher., along with many caregivers trained at either the associate or certified worker level. Validation certification classes are intense and require students to complete a rigorous eight-month program of learning, studying and clinical practicum. The process of becoming a certified Validation teacher requires a minimum of three years study, a teaching internship and intense clinical preparation. Volunteers of America employs a registered nurse who is a certified Validation Teacher to oversee and ensure the integrity of the Validation program.
Volunteers of America has had an impact on the lives of those suffering with Alzheimer’s through the use of Validation.
Families attending Validation presentations report renewed enthusiasm with their newly learned “validating attitude” and toolkit for communicating with a loved one. One family member reported that she saw her husband as “a person with potential rather than a terminal disease,” after attending a class. Volunteers of America collaborated with a Catholic senior care organization on a three-year program to provide Validation training. Hundreds of staff and families were trained during the course of the grant. At the end of the contract, the organization reported reduced depression, anxiety and falls in their nursing home population with Alzheimer’s compared to pre-Validation data. Volunteers of America receives requests on a regular basis to share Validation with families, caregivers and professional staff. With the growing population of those with Alzheimer’s, the opportunities for sharing Validation are expanding.