Care Partnering, Resources

The 12 tenets of the Dementia Bill of Rights

Bill Of Rights

This Best Friends (TM) Dementia Bill of Rights was created by Virginia Bell and David Troxel in the 1990s. It’s been translated into 21 languages. I passionately believe in all 12 of the tenets because I have experienced first hand the difference adhering to them (or not!) can make in the life of someone who lives with dementia.

The bill says every person diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias deserves:

  1. To be informed of one’s diagnosis.
  2. To have appropriate, ongoing medical care.
  3. To be treated as an adult, listened to, and afforded respect for one’s feelings & point of view.
  4. To be with individuals who know one’s life story, including cultural and spiritual traditions.
  5. To experience meaningful engagement throughout the day.
  6. To live in a safe and stimulating environment.
  7. To be outdoors on a regular basis.
  8. To be free from psychotropic medications whenever possible.
  9. To have welcomed physical contact, including hugging, caressing, and handholding.
  10. To be an advocate for oneself and others.
  11. To be part of a local, global, or online community.
  12. To have care partners well trained in dementia care.

The Best Friends approach is caring and person-centred. All people who live with dementia deserve to be treated with compassion and dignity and the twelve tenets above are a great place to start.

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9 thoughts on “The 12 tenets of the Dementia Bill of Rights”

  1. What a wonderful find that I plan to print and share. For some reason, “to be outdoors on a regular basis” resonates with me. I guess it’s because I see so many people in care facilities, and I always wonder if they ever get outside. It’s amazing how many wonderful people there are out their helping the cause. I look forward to learning more about their program.


    1. Yes Mike, me too. I regularly bring Mom to my house and we often sat outside on the deck at The Home throughout the summer. The downside of winter in Canada is that the elderly mostly ended up being cloistered because of the cold weather… 😦


      1. LOL – I was doing an internet search and re-found this article. I was thinking “Susan knows about the Bill of Rights also, cool.” Then I realized that I discovered them because of this article which I read months ago, LOL. I was inspired to investigate more and now I’m writing a series of articles based on the Bill of Rights which can be found at: Thanks Susan.


  2. Susan I am so grateful for this site and the treasures posted.Sorry to get off topic however from my experience and struggles as a family caregiver we need a bill of rights as well and need a guardian to protect them.We are unpaid, trying to live with inadequate and underfunded government programs for those caring for loved ones living at home with dementia.The consequence of not being able to cope with an unjust system leads to our loved ones being torn away from us and placed into long term care without compassion. It’s the easiest way for our government to sweep the problem under the rug so to speak.

    As spring approaches, my Mother has not had sun or a breath of fresh air since she was involuntary held in a hostile and abusive environment at Christmas time, I fear she never will enjoy the warm sun on her face ever again.


  3. Susan,
    I started as an OT sometime before Teepa Snow and have great regard for her. When we talk about person centered care it is about the person, as we all know. My one suggestion to you is instead of ending your 12 steps with Dementia People….please remember to say persons with dementia or my clients, family members with dementia, whatever but we are people first, dementia, second. I am sure it was a slip on your part. Thank you for your posts. Sincerely, Rose Garrett-Daughety-retired


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