The Village Where Everyone Has Dementia

Dementia villagers enjoying a public water fountain, (cbc.ca)

Villagers enjoying a public water fountain (CBC)

The Village Where Everyone Has Dementia

The unique model village of Hogeway near Amsterdam is a safe haven for those suffering from the debilitating realities of dementia.

Coined “Dementia Village” by CNN, Hogewey is a cutting-edge elderly-care facility — roughly the size of 10 football fields — offering residents the chance to live as close to normal lives as possible.

After her experiences working for standard Dutch nursing homes, and facing the realities of her mother’s aging, Yvonne van Amerongen became committed to making nursing homes “more livable and less of a departure from reality for their residents.”  Over the next 20 years, she worked to secure the funding necessary to make her idea a reality.

Hogeway has its own town square, theater, garden, and post office, but unlike typical villages there are cameras monitoring the residents every hour of every day; caretakers pose in street clothes, and there is only one door in-and-out of town.  It’s all part of a security system designed to keep the community safe, although some might say it seems an awful lot like a benevolent (if no less strange) real-life Truman Show.

Life size chess as a recreational activity in Hogeway, (NY Times)

‘Life-sized’ chess as a recreational activity in Hogeway (NY Times)

Residents reportedly live in groups of 6 or 7 to a house, with 1 or 2 caretakers posted. The village features 23 uniquely stylized homes furnished around the time period of when residents’ short-term memories stopped properly functioning. There are homes resembling the 1950’s, 1970’s, and 2000’s — as accurate as possible — even down to the tablecloths.

250 full-time and part-time geriatric nurses as well as specialists are employed; they wander the town and hold a myriad of occupations in the village like cashiers, grocery-store attendees, and post-office clerks.

The village has operated virtually at full capacity since it opened in 2009 and CNN reported that residents require fewer medications, eat better, live longer, and appear more joyful than those in standard elderly-care facilities.

The downside?  At $248 per day, in 2012, or more than $90,500 annually, it reminds us that the realities of dealing with degenerative disorders take a hefty toll emotionally and on the pocket. The cost of a happy life for many suffering loved ones is near impossible for most, with estimates saying that by 2030 the number of people suffering from dementia around the world without major developments in medicine could hit 76 million.

What are your thoughts? Would you be comfortable letting your loved ones live in a 24-hour monitored faux-village?  Is it really that different from how the rest of us live nowadays in modern society, or is this a light at the end of the fading tunnel?  Join in the conversation! Comment below, share on Facebook, and find us on Twitter, hashtag #DMTalk.

W D King

kingslayer

Walter king is a sushi enthusiast. A cat lover. A star gazer. An ex-skateboarder, with the destroyed knees to prove it. A local boy raised in Hawaii. He spent much of his youth listening to art bell, infecting his brain with all matter of gray area thought provoking ideas like time travel, collective consciousness, and who can forget: Bigfoot. He's a loving husband and first time father. A movie junkie. A cliff diving, mud slinging, midday dreamer. He also kind of dabbles in indie film production, music production, and photography. He is survived by his unflinching whit and dry sense of humor.

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