About Eden Alternative®

The Eden Alternative® is a powerful tool for improving the quality of life for people who live in long-term care facilities or are isolated in the community. It is a new way of thinking about eldercare and has the potential of remaking facilities and communities.


To improve the well-being of Elders and their care partners by transforming the communities in which they live and work.


To eliminate loneliness, helplessness, and boredom.


Innovation, Integrity, Community, Empowerment, and Passion

The Ten Principles of The Eden Alternative®:

  1. The three plagues of loneliness, helplessness, and boredom account for the bulk of suffering among our Elders.
  2. An Elder-centered community commits to creating a Human Habitat where life revolves around close and continuing contact with people of all ages and abilities, as well as plants and animals. It is these relationships that provide the young and old alike with a pathway to a life worth living.
  3. Loving companionship is the antidote to loneliness. Elders deserve easy access to human and animal companionship.
  4. An Elder-centered community creates opportunity to give as well as receive care. This is the antidote to helplessness.
  5. An Elder-centered community imbues daily life with variety and spontaneity by creating an environment in which unexpected and unpredictable interactions and happenings can take place. This is the antidote to boredom.
  6. Meaningless activity corrodes the human spirit. The opportunity to do things that we find meaningful is essential to human health.
  7.  Medical treatment should be the servant of genuine human caring, never its master.
  8. An Elder-centered community honors its Elders by de-emphasizing top-down, bureaucratic authority, seeking instead to place the maximum possible decision-making authority into the hands of the Elders or into the hands of those closest to them.
  9. Creating an Elder-centered community is a never-ending process. Human growth must never be separated from human life.
  10. Wise leadership is the lifeblood of any struggle against the three plagues. For it, there can be no substitute.

The Eden Alternative® Domains of Well-BeingTM

“Well-being is a much larger idea than either quality of life or customer satisfaction. It is based on a holistic understanding of human needs and capacities. Well-being is elusive, highly subjective, and the most valuable of all human possessions.”

– Dr. Bill Thomas, What Are Old People For

Well-being is the path to a life worth living. It is the ultimate outcome of a human life. Through a grant-funded collaborative effort, The Eden Alternative brought together a task force of culture change experts in 2004 and identified seven primary Domains of Well-Being. Together, they serve as a simple framework for asking thoughtful questions that help identify the unmet needs of those we care for:

  • IDENTITY — being well-known; having personhood; individuality; having a history
  • GROWTH — development; enrichment; expanding; evolving
  • AUTONOMY — liberty; self-determination; choice; freedom
  • SECURITY — freedom from doubt, anxiety, or fear; safety; privacy; dignity; respect
  • CONNECTEDNESS — belonging; engaged; involved; connected to time, place, and nature
  • MEANING — significance; heart; hope; value; purpose; sacredness
  • JOY — happiness; pleasure; delight; contentment; enjoyment

Creating Home ~ The Eden Alternative®

This documentary style piece, produced by The Eden Alternative, Inc., features the reflections of Elders and their various care partners regarding the impact of this person-directed approach to care on their growth and well-being. (10m 22s)