For the last few weeks, we have been exploring what the Eden Alternative© calls the “three plagues” encountered by many elders. These plagues are loneliness, helplessness, and boredom and Eden argues that they are the primary barriers to wholeness and wellbeing in most elders. Yes, elders face many challenges from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, to frailty and ageism, but Eden teaches and we at Homewatch CareGivers of Crystal Lake believe that these factors need not prevent an elder from enjoying their lives. These plagues are prevalent in elders not because loneliness, helplessness, and boredom are parts of aging, but because they are symptoms of inadequate approaches to elder care and because of harmful notions about aging. The Eden Alternative© offers a solution to this problem which is summarized in three principles, each of which addresses one of the plagues. The first principle for fighting the three plagues is, “Loving companionship is the antidote to loneliness. Elders deserve easy access to human companionship.”
The principle of loving companionship is more than just being in close proximity other people, even within a home. Loving companionship is a multi-directional experience of mutual care, this means that in order to create “loving companionship” in home care, a caregiver must view the elder they work with as someone with things to give to them as well. This, of course, is in addition to the care they provide to an elder, but the real idea here is that the caregiver is invested in the life and wellbeing of the person they care for beyond simply providing a service. Loneliness in times of COVID-19 is especially difficult because many of the typical systems of support that elders enjoy such as meeting up with friends and family is just not as possible. However, loving companionship can still be present even if physical presence looks different because loving companionship is about more than physical presence.
We at Homewatch CareGivers of Crystal Lake are committed to providing care that prioritizes a relationship of loving companionship. This means our care not only addresses the physical needs of clients, but also seeks to attend to their emotional/spiritual wellbeing. The best part of this new type of care, is that it improves the wellbeing of every member of the care team. Elders, caregivers, and family all benefit from loving companionship between a caregiver and client. Elders feel a greater sense of connection to others, caregivers work becomes more meaningful and lifegiving, and family enjoy seeing their loved ones have a higher quality of life. These are all reason that we have embraced the systems from the Eden Alternative, and we believe they make us the best elder care in McHenry County, Lake County and Cook County.
Eden at Home: Care Partner's Workbook. Rochester, NY: Eden Alternative, 2011. pp. 13