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Renowned author visits Madera

Nugesse Ghebrendrias/The Madera Tribune

Matt Cunningham, Director of Sales and Marketing for Cedar Creek Senior Living and David Troxel, right, world-renowned author visit The Madera Tribune’s office to join the Madera Tribune Podcast on April 28. Troxel also spoke at Cedar Creek Senior Living the following day.


Renowned author David Troxel, known for his extensive and life-changing work on Alzheimer’s disease and long-term care, made a trip to headline an event at Cedar Creek Senior Living.

Promoting his new book, The Best Friends Approach to Dementia Care, Troxel, who drove in from Sacramento on April 27, provided vital information to Madera community members about the importance of caring for your loved ones with cognitive impairments and how to provide that care.

With help from Matt Cunningham, director of sales and marketing for Cedar Creek Senior Living, the presentation and book signing was a success, but Troxel’s presence in the Central Valley is a reminder of the many challenges family caregivers are facing.

“I don’t deny this is a tough journey. It is emotional, financially and physically stressful,” Troxel said. “We began to spend hundreds if not thousands of hours with people with dementia and their family members and we realized there are actually some ideas out there that can make things better. So, we wanted to write a book that talked about solutions and ideas that we could use.”

Troxel’s knowledge has been a lifelong process as the skills caregivers utilize are often learned during their everyday lifestyles. For Troxel, it was caring for his mother, Dorothy, who passed away with Alzheimer’s disease in April 2008.

Alongside Virginia Bell, who’s also a renowned author, the pair created the “best friend” approach to caregiving for Alzheimer’s and dementia related loved ones.

They suggest that what a person with dementia needs most of all is a friend, a “best friend.” This can be a family member, friend, or staff member who empathizes with their situation, to remain loving and positive, and is dedicated to helping the person feel safe, secure and valued.

The Best Friends Approach starts with seven basic ‘building blocks’ that can help you learn to “see” persons with dementia differently and begin implementing the approach.

Recognizing the basic rights of a person with dementia, understanding what it’s like to have dementia, knowing and using the person’s life story, knowing just what to say when communication is breaking down, developing the ‘knack’ of great dementia care, experiencing meaningful engagement throughout the day and recasting the relationship and your language from staff to Best Friend.

More information on this approach can be found on Troxel’s website (

“I’m so thrilled and honored to bring David to Madera County because I get a lot of phone calls from folks who are trying to care for their loved ones at home and again they need resources,” Cunningham said.”

Troxel also appeared on a special edition of The Madera Tribune podcast that was released April 28. It can be found on or on the Tribune’s Facebook page.

Although Troxel finds himself all around the globe, there are advocates for dementia care all over the state of California, including Madera County itself.

The Valley Caregiver Resource Center has been that lifeline for decades. Not only assisting those with some form of cognitive impairment, Maderans can get free help in finding resources if you’re caring for seniors who need help with daily living activities.

“The family caregiver is the backbone to our community,” VCRC Executive Director Michelle DiBuduo said. “We keep seniors and loved ones at home for as long as possible, that is our main goal. We want the family caregiver to thrive so they can do their job. The family caregiver has a 67 percent higher mortality rate compared to someone who isn’t taking care of their loved one.

“So, we need to reach those people and we need to help them. We recognize the importance of remaining in the home, but also the need to be placed within a facility. VCRC is determined to work closely with family caregivers to find the best possible option for them as well as the loved one they care for.”

More information can be found either on the VCRC website ( or by calling the main office phone number at 224-9154.


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