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.
The world can become a scary place for an elderly person. If you're a caregiver, these tips can help you help your loved one:
Know the route that Grandpa takes to his regular daytime activities.
Make sure Mom carries identification and your contact information with her whenever she's out of the house.
Check that your parent's or grandparent's car is well maintained. Check often for problems with windshield wipers, tires, and brakes.
Even those who drive safely by day may suffer night blindness,...
"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."