Breaking Ground with Jude Thomas
Over 25 years ago, Bill and Jude Thomas laid the groundwork for what became The Eden Alternative. What began as a set of principles has grown into a powerful, practical model for person-directed care. With years of experience guiding culture change in care organizations of all kinds, The Eden Alternative has grown a robust, global circle of support in the U.S. and abroad that includes thousands of Certified Eden Associates, hundreds of Eden Registry Members, and an extensive cadre of Eden Mentors and Educators. Often described as the heart behind the Eden Alternative movement, Jude will present, “Aging is a Habit of the Heart” on the morning of Friday, May 4th at the 2018 Eden Alternative International Conference.
LB: As a ground breaker for this movement, what wisdom do you most want to share with those just beginning to rethink how we age and care for each other?
JT: Whenever I had to take my children for a health care appointment, I would always ask the doctor suggesting a treatment, “what would you do if this was your child?” As you begin to see the world through the eyes of our Elders, ask yourself what you would like for yourself when you are in their shoes. How do YOU want to live? How do YOU want to be treated. I believe that trying to walk in someone else’s shoes is the best way to see more clearly. It’s not easy, and it requires complete honesty, but it works.
LB: As this work has evolved for you over the years, what has been one of your most powerful wake up calls?
JT: This may sound naive, but I was shocked to find that the almighty dollar is more important than providing true quality of life for our Elders. It seems the emphasis is on keeping “heads in beds”. But true change in the heart costs very little…just lots of persistence and lots of tears. I’ve seen the difference it can make and the ripple effect can be astounding.
LB: What is the key message you hope to share through your general session?
JT: I believe that we are all Elders in the making. If we can help society see the gifts that come with aging, rather than clinging to the hardships it can create, we can make a dramatic improvements in how we engage with each other. People will start demanding that we raise the bar. I believe this shift must come from outside the industry.
LB: As an advocate and activist, how do you most want to effect change? What do you wish to rise up for?
JT: I want to rise up for a society that finally accepts Elderhood as another valuable stage of life… a society where Elders are treated with respect and dignity.