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.
Have you given up on exercise? A lot of older people do -- just one out of four people between the ages of 65 and 74 exercises regularly. Many people assume that they're too out-of-shape, or sick, or tired, or just plain old to exercise. They're wrong.
"Exercise is almost always good for people of any age," says Chhanda Dutta, PhD, chief of the Clinical Gerontology Branch at the National Institute on Aging. Exercise can help make you stronger, prevent bone loss, improve balance and coordination,...
"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."