Because there's so little known about Alzheimer's disease, events like Jefferson City's Walk to End Alzheimer's raise money to help fund research for the cause.
The Best Friends approach is one treatment method resulting from the research.
The approach is a philosophy used at The Arbors at Westbrook Terrace, a memory care assisted-living community in Jefferson City. The Arbors is owned by Americare.
Judy Crane, a regional nurse consultant for Americare, is also Americare's master trainer for the Best Friends approach.
"It's a special program," Crane said. "It's our culture for how we care for our residents with memory deficits."
She said The Arbors' staff is trained on the approach, which includes seven modules.
"When you think about Best Friends, and the reason why it's so successful, it's because it's a pretty common-sense approach," Crane said. "When we're dealing with the elderly and people who have memory deficits, they don't understand if we introduce ourselves as a nurse or a caregiver or an administrator, but if we say, "We're your friend,' they're able to relate to that a lot easier, and it makes a lot of sense to them."
Crane said residents are able to develop a sense of trust and security while learning what friendship is all about.
"We make a connection with them," she said.
While the Best Friends approach isn't a cure for memory deficit, Crane said it makes life a bit easier for The Arbors' residents.
"The research and raising money certainly needs to continue to grow because that research needs to diagnose (memory deficit) earlier in life," Crane said.
The Jefferson City Walk to End Alzheimer's is at 1 p.m. Sunday on the south lawn of the Capitol. Registration begins at 11 a.m., and participants may choose a short walk or a three-mile walk.
For more information, see www.alz.org.