Premier Senior Living...
Because it's how you live that Matters

Spring Arbor Cottage Program for Alzheimer's and Related Dementia

Cottage Cornerstones of Care:

Person Centered Not Task Focused
Validation Therapy
Walking in Their Shoes
Engaging the Creative Spirit

Cornerstones of Care

Joining Their Journey

What is Validation?

This is a communication technique that allows caregivers to better relate to our Memory Care residents by connecting with residents where they are on life’s journey. For example, if a resident sees themselves as a 35-year-old working professional, then the caregiver joins the resident in their reality. This is accomplished by accepting the values and beliefs of the resident without confrontation. Trying to reorient a resident to “facts” often is confusing and unsuccessful for the resident. The caregiver is putting themselves in the shoes of the resident, not simply by trying to move an individual’s attention from one thing to another; it is also about validating feelings and emotions.

How does it work?

A resident does not want to go to dinner as she states she is waiting on her husband to join her. The caregiver knows that the husband is deceased. If the caregiver tells the resident that the husband is not coming because he has died, it can often confuse and confound the resident who may believe that her spouse has just died. This can cause the resident to grieve her loss all over again.

A better approach using Validation might be:

Resident: I don’t want to go yet. I am waiting on Charlie to come.

Caregiver: Charlie can’t come to dinner tonight, but I would love it if you joined me for dinner. I would like to hear more about Charlie, he sounds like a wonderful guy.

Resident: Oh yes, he was a wonderful husband! What are we having for dinner?

We designed our Cottage Care program around the belief that everyone has the right and the capacity to live and love while discovering enjoyment in each day – regardless of abilities that have been lost to dementia.

The key is to agree with the resident’s wants/needs but gently steer them through conversation to do something else – without the resident realizing that redirection is occurring.


The result is a wonderful blend of security and comfort. For example, although all Cottages are keypad secured, the floor plan is flowing and open with only the entrance restricted to access. This allows our residents freedom of choice and movement while maintaining the need for a secure environment.

Likewise, despite the smaller number of residents, staffing ratios are higher to allow for the additional time and attention needed. Team members who fulfill this important role receive additional training on how to support residents with dementia and the common tendencies that occur. The result is a team well prepared to meet a variety of needs and uniquely qualified to ensure Cottage living is more about celebrating what we can do rather than grieving over what we can't.

It has been said that often times it is the loved ones who suffer more than the actual victim of Alzheimer's or a related dementia. At Spring Arbor, we truly believe that the families and friends of the some 4 million victims of this disease are our nation's quiet heroes. Regardless of your choice regarding the care of your loved one, we encourage you to seek out support as you take this journey and allow us to join you along the way.