THE EDEN ALTERNATIVE

The Eden Alternative describes itself as “an international, non-profit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to creating quality of life for Elders and their care partners, wherever they may live.” It also states that it is not a program, but a philosophy. Moreover, “the Eden Alternative philosophy asserts that no matter how old we are or what challenges we live with, life is about continuing to grow.” [https://www.edenalt.org].



Since it’s beginnings in the early 1990s, The Eden Alternative has maintained that both the care receiver and care giver are “care partners” who, together, endeavor to strengthen well-being in the key areas that afflict the elderly and disabled, i.e. boredom, loneliness and helplessness. After much observation and research within the eldercare arena, co-founders, Dr. Bill Thomas and his wife, Judith Meyers-Thomas, envisioned The Eden Alternative as a means of transforming the care of the elderly and other individuals with frailties, from the present institutional models of that care into “person-directed values and practices.”


By creating an environment around continued contact with plants, animals and children, their highly adaptable philosophy has “promoted quality of life and well-being for individuals living with cognitive, developmental, psychological, and physical challenges.” Claiming that the “departmentalized, task-orientation of institutional models has created a culture in long-term care that is characterized by pessimism and cynicism,” The Eden Alternative has moved from a “bureaucratic approach to management and mov[ed] decision-making closer to the Elders.” Thus, The Eden Alternative allows for a “vibrant, empowered existence for the Elders they serve and the people who work closely with them.”


Jocelyne Wong, Operations Leader for Providence Health Care’s MSJ Residence stated that “It’s very easy to focus on the physical needs to where the human part is lost.” She further stated that “…[T]he Eden Alternative philosophy…redirects you to make sure that you’re not just addressing the physical, but [that] you’re looking at who this person is and where they come from and how we can help them.” (emphasis added). This focus on the individual has translated into exercising loving companionship as a means of combating loneliness, by providing the elderly with access to human and animal contact.


The Eden Alternative has a set of 10 principles which includes the following “Meaningless activity corrodes the human spirit. The opportunity to do things that we find meaningful is essential to human health.”


By example, it has been shown that when the principles of The Eden Alterative are implemented, a dementia patient’s quality of life can greatly improve. Caregivers [https://www.edenalt.org/resources/for-providers/] and care receivers [https://www.edenalt.org/resources/for-consumers/] alike can benefit from perusing The Eden Alternative website links listed above. There, they will find resources that further explains their concepts and how one might adopt this progressive approach to eldercare.


One of the:

“In a human community, the wisdom of the elders grows in direct proportion to the honor and respect accorded to them.” (From the ten principles of The Eden Alternative)


Call Missy Donaghy with Interiors for Seniors for a FREE consultation 321-279-3301.


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