Netherlands Takes Memory Care to a Whole New Place

The Netherlands has taken the question of how to care for those with memory impairments and answered it by creating an entire dementia village. 

In 2009, the country became home to De Hogeweyk—translated in English as Dementiavillage—as a place for people with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia to safely shop, cook, and live together, writes Gizmodo

Dementiavillage is located in Weesp, Holland. “The relationship between patients and their care is serving as a model for the rest of the world,” Gizmodo says of the village. 

Dementiavillage is a collection of apartments and buildings comprising a “self-contained” world of restaurants, cafes, a supermarket, gardens, a pedestrian boulevard, and other features, all surrounded by security fences and gates. 

The village’s Dutch architects, Molenaar&Bol&VanDillen, wanted to design a world that recreates normal life as much as possible for its inhabitants, without endangering them, the article says. The concept is the brainchild of Yvonne van Amerongen, a caregiver with extensive memory care experience. 

Apartments in the village can house between six and eight people, including caretakers. Residents play an active role in their own care, from cooking to cleaning to grocery shopping, in addition to getting their hair done or going to a restaurant. 

“The fact that a resident cannot function ‘normally’ in certain areas, being handicapped by dementia, does not mean that they no longer have a valid opinion on their day to day life and surroundings,” village administrators told Gizmodo. 

The village is gaining interest from healthcare companies in other European countries, and the United States may reportedly adopt the approach, too. 

“What Hogeweyk reveals… is the culturally-ingrained way we distinguish between those who do and don’t suffer from dementia,” concludes Gizmodo. “By treating residents as normal people, Hogeweyk seems to suggest that there isn’t such a huge difference, deep down—just differing needs. By designing a city tailored to those unique needs, residents avoid the dehumanization that long-term medical care can unintentionally cause.”

Read the full piece—and view pictures of Hogewyk—here.

Written by Alyssa Gerace

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