Validation Training Institute

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Step Into Their Shoes and Cross the Street: Connecting Heart to Heart with Older Adults

I had the privilege of presenting the keynote address at The Bridge Alzheimer’s and Dementia Research Center’s 3rd annual conference, November 3, 2023 in Shreveport, Louisiana:  “Engage, Empower, Educate”.  My 3-hr presentation, Step Into Their Shoes and Cross the Street: Connecting Heart to Heart with Older Adults focused on the legacy of Naomi Feil, the Validation method, and the pathway to empathy through the Validation Attitude with interactive exercises involving centering, observation, calibration, voice tone, physical distance, and eye contact.  

The conference venue was the same location where Naomi conducted a workshop many years ago and where many attendees fondly recalled the impact that Naomi and her work in Validation had made on their lives and interactions with older adults living with cognitive decline.  To meet the challenge of engaging a diverse conference audience of 300-attendees (healthcare professionals, administrators, family caregivers, educators, and students) including interactive exercises, I relied on the “Naomi Feil in Workshop” videos for examples and inspiration (  I led a breakout session that focused on helping formal and informal caregivers integrate Validation into activities with older persons.  

The Bridge Alzheimer’s and Dementia Research Center is a non-profit organization serving Northwest Louisiana by providing comprehensive services, educational opportunities, and resources for those affected by Alzheimer’s & dementia.  In preparation for my participation in the conference, I learned that there are an estimated 85,047 people living with dementia within a 75-mile radius of Shreveport, Louisiana according to the LSU Health Center for Brain Health, which is why they focus all their efforts locally.  The Bridge Alzheimer’s & Dementia Resource Center is not affiliated with a national organization; therefore, all funds donated remain in the Northwest Louisiana area.