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Aldersgate becomes an Eden community today

By By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
June 6, 2003
It has been years in the making, but today is the day Aldersgate Retirement Community becomes an Eden Registered Community.
Implementing the Eden Alternative, a philosophy of long-term elder care developed by a physician in 1991, Aldersgate adheres to certain principles and practices that increase the participation of its residents.
Lawona Broadfoot, Aldersgate's executive director since 1991, said the retirement community has always displayed a "touch of Eden." But she said changes for the better are evident.
She said work toward becoming an Eden community began about two years ago with staff training.
Because of the Eden philosophy, Broadfoot said Aldersgate's staff is more in tune with residents on a personal level rather than being distracted by their daily tasks.
Marie Collier, 87, retired after teaching school for 30 years and is a resident at Aldersgate. She said she is lucky to have family who visit her.
But the Eden concept which incorporates plants, animals and children into the residents' lives helps fight the loneliness, helplessness and boredom many elderly people face.
Last fall, children began playing a greater role in the life of residents at Aldersgate. The first-grade class at Northeast Elementary School regularly visited residents throughout the school year.
Collier said children visited Aldersgate for a Valentine's Day party, a Christmas party, an Easter egg hunt, a garden party and other activities.
Several of the children from the class will be at Aldersgate today. Events involving children and residents will include storytelling and playing checkers.
Seed planting also will be done, and garden seeds will be given away to residents.
Bernice Stewart, 85, is a resident of Aldersgate who said she does not have a green thumb but likes to see the plants growing around her.
Stewart, who retired as program director at WTOK-TV after 27 years, also volunteers to answer the telephones at Aldersgate.
She also helps maintain the retirement community's aviary full of finches.
Stewart has two finches named Pam and Sam, and an increasing number of residents are acquiring the pets as more finches are born. There are also plans to get a dog at Aldersgate.
Broadfoot said the opportunity for residents to care for other living things, such as companion animals and plants, and interacting directly with children and staff add variety and spontaneity to the lives of residents.
She also said the residents' input is vital to the success of Eden communities.

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