August 22, 2016 - Dr. Bill Thomas

August 22, 2016
Dr. Bill Thomas

His official biography says of our guest today, “Dr. Bill Thomas is an author, entrepreneur, musician, teacher, farmer and physician whose wide-ranging work explores the terrain of human aging.”

It goes on a lot further than that, but I’d gotten to my stop, and got off, right there, at the concept of Bill Thomas as an explorer.

When we think of the great explorers from Columbus and Magellan to New Mexico’s own Francisco Vasquez de Coronado, we credit, even rank them, for the places that they found.

But what they saw was only half the load for a great explorer. The other half was the places they didn’t get to see, but think might be worth checking out, — the ones they carefully marked out on a map for the future.

Bill Thomas has explored “the terrain of human aging,” and in small, important ways, has changed it forever.

He has had his great discoveries, a concept, The Eden Alternative, that became a global non-profit, and helped build little Green Houses that interwove with more conventional housing at a growing number of progressive nursing homes.  

What everyone could see, and like the elderly people who got to live amid Bill Thomas’ ideas, rejoice in, was a virtual Noah’s Ark of small birds and animals set loose among the nursing home residents. All of which was, in turn, surrounded by an Eden of plants and shrubs.

Good to see, but better to think about: the ideas behind the floral and faunal landscaping…that your last years should be every bit as good as any that preceded them…and that two things that made everybody’s lives better are relationships and responsibility.

Puppies, kittens and songbirds provided relationships to people often left for days or weeks on their own, something to care for, take care of.

Bowers and flowers pleased the eye and engaged people to help take care of them. And those little homes, small, self-sufficient and private could also confer responsibility for self-care. Lightening the burden of nursing home staff.

And that’s just the beginning for Bill Thomas. Explorers are curious. They don’t sit long between voyages. Dr. Thomas, having mapped out dozens of destinations for future long-term-care experts to seek out, is heading off to fresh territory, acute care, thinking about the significant characteristics of an Emergency Room shaped by the needs of elderly patients.

Reading Room

Dr. Bill Thomas is an author, entrepreneur, musician, teacher, farmer and physician whose wide-ranging work explores the terrain of human aging. Best known for his health care system innovations, he is the founder of a global non-profit (The Eden Alternative) which works to improve the care provided to older people. He is the creator of The Green House® which Provider Magazine has called the “pinnacle of culture change.” Dr. Thomas also developed the Senior ER model of care and is now working to transform the acute care services provided to elders.

Changing Aging

“We’re lucky if we get to be old, physician and professor believes” – The Washington Post 

The Green House Project

The Eden Alternative



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