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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Listener Letters

Air Date: Week of

Listeners respond to last week's segment on the "Eden Alternative" concept of nursing homes and to our query on what else they would do, or suggest, to improve life in nursing homes.


CURWOOD: And now, it's time to hear from you, our listeners. Our story last week about the Eden Alternative, a group of innovative nursing homes where children, pets, and plants are welcome, and where the natural world is replicated, elicited a flurry of responses. We asked what would you do to make nursing homes more livable? Several listeners said that nursing homes should incorporate baking and cooking chores into the daily routines of residents. Another said that computers could help link the elderly to the outside world. Barry Filer called from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, home of WUNC. He suggests that when possible nursing home residents physically get out into their communities.

FILER: I think that the people should have volunteer opportunities to heal the planet, you know, to do some environmental work, to do some service in the community so they can feel a part of, you know, life.

CURWOOD: Susanna Mathey, who hears Living on Earth on KQED in San Francisco, reminds us...

MATHEY: Most old people grew up in rural America, and I think nursing homes should have chickens in the patio and rabbits that people can hold. Most people grew up hearing roosters in the morning, and I think it's a very lovely sound.

CURWOOD: Many of you commented on the way death was handled at the nursing home in our story. As reported, a woman dies in her room, and while the other residents are playing bingo, a nurse slips the nameplate on her door into a drawer. Marilyn Bentoff of Cambridge, Massachusetts, says this scene upset her.

BENTOFF: People that age are not children. They do know what's happening. And it would be wise to establish a ritual when that happens, when someone passes away, and that the name not be taken immediately off the door, so that people don't feel that they, too, will be thrown immediately into the trash can. But that the death be acknowledged and people be allowed to form a circle and talk about the person who has passed away and their own feelings about it.


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