In Life Worth Living, Thomas (1996) proposed that in long-term care facilities for elderly individuals, loneliness, helplessness, and boredom are out of control and are steadily decaying the residents' spirits, adversely affecting quality of life. While Thomas' contention appeals to common sense, no empirical evidence is offered in its support. The purpose of this quasi-experimental study was to assess the impact of implementation of the Eden Alternative model on levels of loneliness, boredom, and helplessness of older residents of a long-term care facility. The model was introduced into the experimental facility on May 1, 1998. The final sample for the experimental group included 21 cognitively intact older adults from a state veterans home (13 men, 8 women, mean age = 76.1). The final control group was composed of 13 residents in a private long-term care facility (11 women, 2 men, mean age = 85.7). A Background Data Sheet, the Geriatric Depression Scale (includes yes or no questions related to helplessness and boredom), and the UCLA Loneliness Scale (Version 3) were administered by an interviewer at baseline and 1-year post-implementation of the Eden Alternative model. Data analysis from the post-implementation phase revealed significant differences between the groups on levels of boredom (z = -2.6, p = .01) and helplessness (z = -2.2, p = .03). Lower levels of distress were found in the experimental group on both boredom and helplessness, but not loneliness. Findings suggest health care professionals and researchers have an opportunity to take a leading role in impacting services related to quality-of-life issues for this important, but often overlooked, population.
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