Dementia

Stepping Back in Time: Help for Alzheimer's

New state-of-the-art dementia treatment facility is a 1950s era village.

Posted Apr 12, 2012

The number one fear of old age is without a doubt receiving the diagnosis of Alzheimer's dementia. According to Dementia statistics, in 2010 approximately 35.6 million people had dementia; in 2030 it is expected to almost double to 65.7 million. What can be done to ensure that our parents, loved ones and yes, we ourselves, can enjoy life as fully as possible while living out our Golden Years?

Let me introduce to you Hogewey, an amazing "village" on the outskirts of Amsterdam. It's a step back into the 1950s boasting pretty, manicured streets, a grocery, cafe, coffee shop, restaurant and even a beauty salon and barber shop. There are 152 residents in Hogewey, and all have something in common—dementia. You see, Hogewey is not a real village; it is a treatment facility for dementia and Alzheimer's patients.

 

Hogewey patients walk freely around the village.

Dementia waxes and wanes; with times of clarity interspersed with periods of confusion and memory loss. It's during those moments of clarity that Hogewey becomes priceless. Instead of a nursing home, with cold steel, linoleum floors, the smell of antiseptic and staff members wearing white, they live in a neighborhood. Patients come and go as they please, because the village, which takes up a city block, is staffed by "villagers" who are really trained geriatric nurses and specialists, all there to help the residents when needed. Patients are free to take a buggy and walk to the supermarket, go grab a coffee or get a meal in the cafe. If they forget their wallet, no problem. If they get lost, there's always a "villager" to help them get home, and if they load up with 20 cans of tomato sauce, an aide will return the extras to the grocery later that day.

 

A patient talks to a nurse working incognito at the Hogewey supermarket.

 

A Hogewey resident gets her hair done at the onsite salon.

Locking the elderly in a cold, hospital setting, with specific visiting hours and time for meds and meals scheduled in advance is, thankfully, going to be a thing of the past. The elderly deserve nothing less than our respect and compassion, and this type of setting will ensure they experience their last years in a ‘normal,’ happy setting.

We all hope that our loved ones will never have to be removed from their home and independence for their own protection due to the ravages of dementia. But if they do, I certainly hope this is an option for all of us to consider.