A friend tagged me in a post to make sure I’d see this: OWNER OF NURSING HOME ACCUSED OF STEALING FROM 57 RESIDENTS TO PAY DEBTS (http://abc30.com/news/owner-of-nursing-home-accused-of-stealing-from-57-residents-to-pay-debts/1437984/). This happened in my home town, and hit the news a couple days after I’d had a conversation with the same friend about politics and cop shootings.

My friend and I go back 32 years. She’s in my ride-or-die squad, we know each others’ hearts, and are able to listen to one another without screaming despite the fact we’re almost always in different galaxies on political, religious, and social issues.

Our big point of agreement: one bad apple spoils the barrel. One dead fish poisons the tank. One bad professional sullies the reputation of thousands. In fact, these bad actors don’t deserve to be called “professionals.”

Here’s the real-world consequences of bad actors in senior care: Seniors and their families who’re in desperate need of help don’t reach out for it, because they see a news article like this and it confirms their worst fears.

Dedicated professionals who genuinely love what they do, and do it because it’s their calling–their vocation, in the holiest sense of the word–endure noses wrinkled in disgust when asked what they do for a living.

To all the seniors and their families who need help and don’t know where to turn, or are now afraid to ask for help: The overwhelming majority of us do what we do because we genuinely want to help you. You can ensure you’re working with an honest-to-goodness professional by doing your due diligence. Check around, ask around. Reputation matters.

To all my colleagues, the devoted professionals who wake up every day excited to go to work because you love what you do, you love the opportunity to have a positive impact on the lives entrusted to your care, and whose hearts break every time we see another news story like this (or worse): From the bottom of my heart, thank you for making the world a better place, one life at a time, moment by moment. I’m so proud to be part of your tribe.

Christy Turner is the founder of DementiaSherpa.com (CTC Dementia Care Management) and has enjoyed the privilege of working with over 1,045 people living with dementia and their families. Follow on Facebook, Google+,Instagram, Periscope, Pinterest, Twitter, and YouTube. Content varies daily across platforms.