Dementia Village in the Netherlands

"For those who have forgotten who they are. For those who no longer count time. For those to whom love and care is all that matters. Dementia Village Architects creates custom living environments for elderly people with dementia. No big anonymous buildings, but instead manageable and pleasant residential areas. Where it is comfortable for everyone to live. Where residents feel safe at home. Where they enjoy living out their final days, connected with family, caregivers and healthcare providers. Where they can enjoy the precious life they were used to and still want to lead." Dementia Village Architects
In December 2009, a village was founded in the Netherlands, one for people with Alzheimer's Disease. Hogeweyk in the municipality of Weesp, on the outskirts of Amsterdam, has a town square, supermarket, theatre, pub, hairdressing salon, garden, post office, restaurant, green areas, i.e. parks and gardens designed by the landscape architect Niek Roozen, 160 inhabitants and 250 geriatric nurses and specialists whose 24-hours-a-day occupations range from cashier to grocery-store attendees and post-office clerks. The residents live in "lifestyle groups", in groups of six to seven persons who share similar interests and backgrounds. They live in houses together with one or two caretakers. The decor, design and furniture of each house is based on the design of furniture at the time the residents' short-term memories decreased. Homes resemble the 1950s, the 1970s, or the 2000s - a narrative reality with many recognisable stimuli. Cameras monitor the residents, caretakers in street clothes take care of the residents. Family and friends are encouraged to visit as often as they can. According to reports, the residents need fewer medications, eat better, live longer and appear more joyful than those living in elderly-care facilities. And, they are more active as they spend comparatively much time outside. By contrast, nursing-home residents go outside for just 96 seconds a day. Hogeweyk residents engage in a community instead of feeling isolated; isolation makes the disease worse. Living in the village does not cure but it creates an environment "around life rather than death". (Diversity is beautiful)

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Photograph via New York Times

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