One of the heartbreaks of Alzheimer’s disease is that we often deprive patients of their happiness and freedom in order to keep them safe. In the Netherlands, there’s an innovative facility for dementia sufferers called De Hogeweyk, which means Dementia Village. Inside, there are apartments, stores, cafes, recreational facilities, and common areas. Everything is within walking distance, so there are no dangerous vehicles. The outside of the village is ringed with security walls, regulating who goes in and out. The idea is to keep residents safe while making their lives as normal as possible.
For example, one common symptom is the urge to roam, often without warning, which had led most "memory units" and dementia care centers to institute a strict lock-down policy. In one German town, an Alzheimer's care center event set up a fake bus stop to foil wandering residents. At Hogeweyk, the interior of the security perimeter is its own little village—which means that patients can move about as they wish without being in danger.
Each apartment hosts six to eight people, including caretakers—who wear street clothes—and the relationship between the two is unique. Residents help with everything from cooking to cleaning. They can buy whatever they want from the grocery. They can get their hair done or go to a restaurant. It's those basic routines and rituals that can help residents maintain a better quality of living.
Hogeweyk opened in 2009, and has proven so workable that other countries are looking into their own versions of dementia villages. Read more about it at Gizmodo. -via the Presurfer
(Image credit: Flickr user Hans Erkelens)