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Monday, April 30, 2012

The Eden Alternative

With the population aging, more and more families will be dealing with elder care, either at home or in institutions. When I read this article about the Eden Alternative I was excited at the possibilities for helping those who can no longer be as independent as they would like to still know how valuable they are in the community. Our capacity to love isn't measured by the number of sex conquests, but by our service to those around us. Think of a "story project" where young people interact with an elderly person for a number of weeks learning about their lives and experiences of a by-gone age. That is living history. My own dad had a Navy archivist visiting him in the last weeks of his life. Among the diminishing group of Pearl Harbor survivors, he had a story to share about a critical period of our U.S. past.

I visit a nursing home every week to bring Communion to the Catholic residents. I see exactly what the Eden project is saying when they describe the triple enemies of the elderly and disabled: loneliness, helplessness, and boredom. My own brother who had a stroke three years ago and is debilitated both physically and mentally from it is living that triple challenge.

What a blessing if things could be changed to create a more homelike environment with partnerships in the community. I'm adding the Eden Alternative to my rosary prayer list. The founder of the Eden Alternative, Dr. Bill Thomas has written a book called Tribes of Eden. I haven't read it, but I'm intrigued by the promo.