An innovative Dutch “village” for Alzheimer’s patients could serve as a model for how the U.S. cares for its growing population of seniors with dementia.
The village serves as a protected, self-contained world for its inhabitants. It contains apartments, restaurants, a supermarket, gardens and more. Gates and security fences enclose the center, which provides both freedom and protection for residents who wander.
The goal is to create an environment that simulates normal life as much as possible, with dementia patients free to participate in activities they are capable of while receiving help with activities they can no longer perform. Residents can cook, clean and go grocery shopping, as well as go get their hair done or eat at a restaurant. At the same time, caregivers are on hand to help with activities of daily living as necessary.
Each apartment houses six to eight people, including caretakers who wear street clothes. The design of every department is unique, and each is geared toward a particular lifestyle, such as “cultural,” “artisan” or “Christian.”
A growing population of seniors and an increasing life expectancy means that the U.S. will be facing an unprecedented number of Alzheimer’s patients. This change may result in increased strain on both individual caregivers and the healthcare system as a whole in coming years. The number of people with Alzheimer’s has increased by 68 percent since 2000, and that trend will continue as the Baby Boomer population ages. The development of innovative solutions that promote independence and a fulfilling life is essential to the care of this growing population.
Already, a similar village has opened in Switzerland. In the future, it is possible that more such centers will open across Europe and in the United States, potentially improving the care and well-being of individuals with dementia.
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