ARTICLES / Caregiver /
Animals as Caregivers/
If thereís a senior in your life you
think might benefit from individual pet ownership, be
sure to ask first whether he or she wants to take on the
responsibility and feels up to the demands pet care
giving will entail. And by all means, take them with you
when you go shopping. They may love something about a
pet that you would have never noticed. As a caregiver,
though, be sure to think through whether youíll be
equipped to take the pet on if the older person in your
life can no longer care for it.
Whether pet ownership is an option or visiting pets fill
the bill better, remember the key. Furry, friendly
favorites of people everywhere, animals alleviate
loneliness, helplessness and boredom. And thatís what
the Eden Alternative celebrates on behalf of senior
The Eden Alternative Ten Guiding Principles
Developed in 1991 by Geriatrician Dr. William Thomas,
the Eden Alternative is a nursing care approach that
presents long-term care facilities as habitats for human
beings rather than facilities for the frail and elderly.
To that end, these are their ten guiding principles:
The three plagues of loneliness,
helplessness and boredom account for the bulk of
suffering among our elders.
An elder-centered community commits
to creating a human habitat where life revolves
around close and continuing contact with plants,
animals and children. It is these relationships that
provide the young and old alike with a pathway to a
life worth living.
Loving companionship is the antidote
to loneliness. Elders deserve easy access to human
and animal companionship.
An elder-centered community creates
opportunity to give as well as receive care. This is
the antidote to helplessness.
An elder-centered community
imbues daily life with variety and spontaneity by
creating an environment in which unexpected and
unpredictable interactions and happenings can take
place. This is the antidote to boredom.
Meaningless activity corrodes the
human spirit. The opportunity to do things that we
find meaningful is essential to human health.
Medical treatment should be the
servant of genuine human caring, never its master.
An elder-centered community honors
its elders by de-emphasizing top-down bureaucratic
authority, seeking instead to place the maximum
possible decision-making authority into the hands of
the elders or into the hands of those closest to
Creating an elder-centered community
is a never-ending process. Human growth must never
be separated from human life.
Wise leadership is the lifeblood of
any struggle against the three plagues. For it,
there can be no substitute.