Dr. Bill Thomas is a Harvard doctor who says that although we hate it, growing older is still a good thing. This radical view of aging has earned Dr. Thomas much face time in the media. Recently, The Washington Post published an article in which they praised Dr. Thomas’ positive view of aging, hoping that it would change the negative attitude towards the natural process.
According to the article, Dr. Thomas is the first doctor to crush the idea of aging as a negative thing. As the doctor says, most of the aging patients in nursing homes are depressed and dispirited and he considers that these negative thoughts contribute to their failing state. In 1991, Dr. Thomas became the director of a nursing home in upstate New York and decided to change the patients’ lives forever.
Based on a hunch, the doctor persuaded the staff to get 4 cats, 2 dogs, hens, rabbits and parakeets as well. He also made them create a garden full of flowers and a day care where their children could spend some time. This actually broke the law as animals aren’t allowed in nursing homes, but Dr. Thomas and the staff were amazed by the results. Caring for the plants and animals and playing with the staffers’ children brought a new positive outlook on life on the previously-depressed residents whose mental and physical shape improved. The death rate went down in just a few months just like the cost for medications.
Dr. Thomas gave this radical new approach a name – The Eden Initiative. He says that a nursing home should function more as a garden instead of a hospital. His approach was used in nursing homes across the USA and the world with great results. Dr. Thomas also runs his own small business – a small nursing home called Green Houses where the residents have access to their own bathrooms and bedrooms.
After the first few months, most of the residents ditched the wheelchairs – there were so many that a truck had to pick them up. “You know why people need wheelchairs?” Dr. Thomas asks. “Because the buildings are just too big.” His approach is another proof that age is just a number. Dr. Thomas changed the lives of thousands of old people and showed that our spirit and mind play a major role in our happiness and longevity.