Great Geriatrics

What about the elderly?

The ,,Eden Alternative‘‘ in USA

In the past years a new ideology has been arising in the United States that focuses on creating a sustainable and a homey environment in homes for the elderly as well as nursing homes. This ideology is called ,,Eden Alternative‘‘ by its founders, Dr. William H. Thomas(Dr. Bill Thomas) and his wife Judy Meyers Thomas. Ever since the early 90‘s they have been spreading and introducing this ideology. The first nursing home that implemented the ,,Eden Alternative‘‘ was Chase Memorial Nursing Home in New York. Many nursing homes in the United States and all over the world have implemented this ideology with a great succes.

The main goal of this ideology is to eliminate loneliness, helplessness and boredom on nursing homes. It has ten basic principles and it seeks to encourage the elderly to participate in daily activities. It also strives to make a good day better by encouraging meaningful communication with other people in the nursing home, children, relatives, volunteers, staff and pets. One of the basic principles is that an ,,Eden‘‘ nursing home does not have a stricht schedule where every task is structured and executed. The elderly get do decide for example when they want to wake up, how they want to get dressed and what they want to eat. It is also important that nursing homes are homey instead of looking like a hospital. In order to create firm surroundings, plants and flowers are a possibility and the elderly‘s own furniture and items.

I choose this article because one of my co-workers showed it to me. She had no idea that I intended on using it for a school assignment, we were only dicussing the ,,Eden Alternative‘‘ at work and she told me I had to read this article. This woman is extremely experienced and she knows what she is talking about, so of course I read the article. I really like this ideology although there are some things I question. Thanks to my co-worker, I now know more about the ,,Eden Alternative‘‘.

Hvernig maður verður öldrunarlæknir?

Hvernig maður verður öldrunarlæknir

Öldrunarlækningar eru læknisleg fræðigrein sem einblínir á heilsu aldraðra. Öldrunarlæknar eru sérhæfðir læknar sem einbeita sér að heilsu aldraðra með því að fyrirbyggja og meðhöndla mismunandi heilsuför og sjúkdóma sinna sjúklinga.


Hvað gerir öldrunarlæknir?

Öldrunarlæknar einbeita sér að getu og lífsgæðum ásamt því að meðhöndla margskonar sjúkdóma og krónísk veikindi. Algengir sjúkdómar sem öldrunarlæknar þurfa að meðhöndla eru til dæmis gigt, beinþynning, skert sjón og heyrn, hjarta- og lungnasjúkdómar, Alzheimer‘s sjúkdómurinn, Parkinson‘s sjúkdómurinn, minnisleysi, vitglöp, þvagleki og heilablóðföll. Öldrunarlæknar sjá einnig um að meta það hvort einstaklingur sé fær um að búa einn og sjá um sig sjálfur eða hvort hann þurfi að fá aðstoð og/eða komast á hjúkrunarheimili. Þeir bjóða einnig uppá ráðgjöf fyrir sjúklingana sína og fjölskyldur þeirra með því að gera þeim grein fyrir framhaldinu, hvað væri hentugast og ákjósanlegast fyrir hvern og einn sjúkling.


Hverskonar þjálfun þarf öldrunarlæknir?

Öldrunarlæknar þurfa fyrst og fremst að hafa lokið læknisfræði. Þeir þurfa einnig að hafa lokið sérhæfingu og fengið þjálfun frá reyndum öldrunarlæknum. Læknanám fer að miklu leyti fram í kennslustofu og er mikið nám, ásamt verklegri þjálfun og tilraunum og læknanemar fá líka að kynnast mismunandi sérhæfðum læknisfræðigreinum. Eftir að hafa lokið læknanámi, þurfa tilvonandi öldrunarlæknar að vinna og þjálfast upp í lyf- og heimilislækningum. Þá þurfa þeir að vera orðnir sérhæfðir í annað hvort lyflækningum eða heimilislækningum áður en þeir halda svo áfram í öldrunarlækningar. Það eru svo læknar sem þjálfa tilvonandi öldrunarlækna upp með því að upplýsa þá um almenn öldrunarferli, hvernig meta eigi heilsufar aldraðs fólks, algenga öldrunarsjúkdóma, og algengar meðhandlanir. Þeir fá einnig verklega þjálfun í að meðhöndla aldraða sjúklinga. Til að verða viðurkenndur öldrunarlæknir þarftu svo að starfa sem öldrunarlæknir í 2-4 ár.



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TED talks

Geriatrics or geriatric medicine is a specialty that focuses on health care of elderly people.

What does Þórhildur have to say about nursing homes?

I did an interview with Þórhildur Guðbjörg Hjaltadóttir. She is 30 years old and she works at the nursing home Ljósheimar. She is very ambitious in her job and truly cares about the people that live in Ljósheimar. She has been working at nursing homes since 2004. Now she is in her first year in the University of Akureyri where she studies nursing. She would like to continue to work at nursing homes when she finishes nursing school or even run a nursing home one day. She said she has the now syndrome, everything she wants to happen, has to happen now. That is really convenient for her while doing her job. She is also a doer, if she has an idea to brighten up the day for the people that live in Ljósheimar, she performs the idea. Her co-workers look up to her and her ambition.

What is it like working at a nursing home?

Working at a nursing home is fun and giving. You get know many people and you get to help them enjoy their last months or even years. It is also very giving, people are very thankful for your help. At times, it can also be quite challenging and rough. For example, when people die or when people are in much pain. Overall, working at a nursing home is great and educational.

Which characteristics would be ideal for a nursing home employee to have?

Patience is definitely the most important one. The elderly take their time and you should never rush them. It is also good to be positive, resourceful and tolerant. And of course, the key to quality and efficiency is professionalism.

Is it important for a nursing home employee to have an education? If yes, how important?

It‘s important than there is always at least one educated employee working at the nursing home on each shift. However, it is common that the uneducated staff is no worse, even better, than the educated staff. Experience can be a great education. If you have two employees, an uneducated employee that has been working at a nursing home for over 20 years and an educated employee that has just finished school, it is more likely that the uneducated employee would be more capable than the educated one. Of course, it is always better to have an education, but an education should not be mandatory in order to work at a nursing home.

Do you think that the care for the elderly is better or worse than it was before?

The care for the elderly is without doubt a lot better than it was before. Today, nursing homes do everything in their power to make the elderly feel well. Nursing homes seek to adjust to each and every individual that live there but before it was the other way around. Today, nursing homes have better equipment than they had before. Better equipment makes it easier for the employees to take care of the elderly. It‘s safe to say that the care for the elderly is way better than is was before.

Can you name any good things about the nursing home you work at, Ljósheimar?

There are a number of good things about Ljósheimar. First of all, my co-workers are amazing. We all get along really well and we enjoy each others‘ company. Secondly, the equipment and the facilities in Ljósheimar are great. That is very important when it comes to running a nursing home. Last but not least, the people that live in Ljósheimar feel well. Remembering the good things is vital.

What do you think about the Eden Alternative?

The Eden Alternative is a terrific policy. It is positive when nursing homes endeavor to pursue policies like these. However, it is essential to pursue this policy properly. The administrators have to make arrangements as well as make sure that every employee is able to pursue the policy.

Can you learn anything from the elderly?

There are many things you can learn from the elderly. Appreciation is one thing. The elderly truly appreciate everything. Secondly, the elderly are very patient. Working at a nursing home also helps you see how invaluable it is to be surrounded by good people, especially your family.


As a conclusion, Þórhildur enjoys working at a nursing home. She thinks it is important for a nursing home employee to be patient, positive and resourceful. She believes an education is good, but not necessary. She thinks the care for the elderly is better now than it was before. In her opinion, there are many great things about Ljósheimar, the nursing home she works at. She thinks the Eden Alternative is a terrific policy. And last but not least, appreciation and patience is something you can learn from the elderly. It is exciting to see what the future will bring to Þórhildur.