Dementia is a serious phenomenon all over the world, which has taken on great magnitude and is likely to get even bigger in the future. Increasing life expectancy in developed countries has brought escalating numbers of dementia.
Many times, the medication taken by people with dementia is not enough to treat the symptoms. So, their families resort to the solution of their confinement in retirement homes. This solution is about the safety of these people but dramatically reduces their quality of life. The four walls surrounding them help avoid their disappearance or injury, but negatively affect their psychology.
The different village
An innovative idea materialized in the Netherlands by creating a village different from the others. This is the Hogeweyk, a village exclusively for people with dementia.
Located in the town of Weesp, near Amsterdam, Hogeweyk seems like a fenced village. It operated for the first time in December 2009 and almost all its construction costs were covered by the Dutch government.
It is a place that doesn’t resemble an asylum and gives patients back a normal way of life. In the village there are supermarkets, cafes, entertainment centers and squares where residents can walk safely. The village is guarded and there is only one way in and out. The roads are landscaped in such a way that even when walking alone, it is impossible to get lost. Residents live as normal people and not as patients.
People living there are surrounded by doctors, nurses and specialists who work around the clock to provide them with the care they need. They are not dressed in special suits and they collaborate with the patients as roommates or neighbors. Nothing indicates that this is a treatment center.
Compared to traditional nursing homes, the residents of Hogeweyk are more active and require less medication.
There is an innovative care center in the Netherlands that shows us that if we aim to improve the quality of life of people with dementia, there is a way.