May 1, 2000 (San Francisco) -- Excerpt from the book Life Worth
Living, by William H. Thomas, MD:
"We did our best to treat his depression and to encourage, cajole, and
assist him, but nothing seemed to help. First, he gave up on walking. Then he
refused to eat and became confined to his bed. At this time, the Eden
Alternative began to take root. We offered Mr. L. a pair of parakeets to keep
by his bedside. He agreed, with the indifference of a person who knows he will
soon be gone.
You know the story: Somebody's 99-year-old aunt never exercised, smoked her whole life, and lived on a diet of red meat and ice cream. So why bother with healthy living, right?
"For every one person who lives a long life of unhealthy choices, there are countless others who die prematurely because of them," says Robert Schreiber, MD. He's a doctor at Hebrew SeniorLife, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School.
No one is guaranteed a healthy life. But following certain guidelines -- namely, eating...
"The changes were subtle at first. Mr. L. would position himself in bed
so that he could watch the activities of his new charges. Then he began to
offer comments to the people who came in to care for them. These comments grew
into bits of advice about what the birds liked and how they seemed to be doing.
He was hooked. The parakeets were drawing his spirit slowly back into the realm
of the living.
"He began eating again, dressing himself, and getting out of his room.
The dogs needed a walk every afternoon, and he let us know that he was the man
for the job. His condition rapidly improved. His children once again saw the
sparkle in his pale blue eyes. Three months later, it was our turn to be sad as
we watched him pack his belongings and move back home. The Eden Alternative had
saved his life."