The Argument for Well-Being Through Culture Change

August 17, 2012
Chris Perna, The Eden Alternative Blog

At the Eden Alternative we’ve known about the plague of loneliness for a long time. We teach about loneliness, helplessness, and boredom, the three plagues of the human spirit, and the negative effects they can have on Elders and their care partners, robbing them of their well-being and quality of life. Our teaching about loneliness is now being validated with some recent scientific research. Researchers following a group of 1,600 elders over a six-year period found:

• Forty-three percent of those interviewed reported being lonely.

• Nearly one-quarter of the subjects who reported being lonely died over the six-year study, compared to 14% of non-lonely participants – a 45% increase in mortality.

• Lonely participants had a 59% greater risk of suffering a decline in function.

This is not news to those of us who embrace the Eden Philosophy, but it is hopefully a wake up call for others to move beyond the clinical, institutional model of care to a model that shifts the emphasis to measuring well-being. The Eden Alternative has recently released a new paper on the seven domains of well-being which have been integrated into the Path to Mastery and many of our recently released trainings and other materials. You can learn more about the seven domains of well-being in my recent article by the same title as this blog which was published in McKnight’s on August 8th.

Let us know how you feel about making a shift away from the institutional set of performance measures traditionally used in long term care toward a more person-directed approach of measuring well-being using the seven domains. Do you think these are the right things to measure in assessing quality of life and well-being for our elders and their care partners? Tell us what you think.

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