Dementia Patients Get Their Own, Amazing, Safe Village

doctor talking with patient Caring for patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia is very challenging for many reasons, but probably most of all, because of the patients’ urge to roam. It has been estimated by the Alzheimer’s Association that 1 in 3 seniors die with dementia. Often, finding care for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients is a struggle, and the facilities that are available and affordable often leave a lot to be desired. Many Alzheimer’s and dementia facilities are simply locked units in larger institutions. And, with the aging US population, the problem of adequate (and dare we say desirable?!) facilities only looks to grow. Perhaps we should take a lesson from a new “village” in the town of Weesp, the Netherlands.

Called, De Hogeweyk, aka Dementiavillage, it is a “living center” for patients with Dementia. The facilities include apartments, restaurants, a grocery store, cafes, and even a boulevard to stroll along, to name a few of the many features. Essentially, the village is meant to mimic a real village –giving its citizens options and the ability to still live their life and make decisions safely. The added safety features are that 1) the town is enclosed with gated fencing and security and 2) patients live with plain-clothed caregivers.

Within the walls of the village, the citizens are able to go about typical daily activities, like shopping and get their hair done, and they even help with chores around the apartment, including cooking and cleaning. Administrators of the facility stress that although suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia, its citizens can still make many everyday decisions. In addition, they believe that the ability to still engage in typical daily activities gives its residents a better quality of life.

And, this is where it really gets impressive. The residents of Dementiavillage get to pick what kind of “lifestyle” apartment they would like to live in. The village offers 6 different styles of apartment to choose from: upperclass, homey, Christian, artisan, Indonesian, and cultural. (See the article for examples of each.)

What a really kind and dignified way to treat these patients. I can only hope that something like this exists (if I need it) when I get older!

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