Goodbye Traditional Nursing Homes: Hello Dementia Village

Hogewey, a small village in Weesp, the Netherlands, is a progressive new facility that is changing the conversation about comfortable and compassionate long-term care for patients with dementia. Located near Amsterdam, this 4-acre area looks like a typical village with a town square and different businesses, like the post office, a grocery store, a restaurant, and even a salon. But all of the residents are either patients with dementia, or their caretakers.

CNN’s Dr. Gupta traveled there to get a closer look at this incredible community, exploring the village and interviewing one of its co-founders, as well as caretakers and patients. The facility offers seven types of housing, split into different styles that reflect a certain time period or culture. They offer an urban style, an aristocratic Dutch style, and a religious style, as well as styles for people based on background and career, like trades people or homemakers. The community also has 25 clubs, so that the residents have a variety of ways that they can stay mentally active.

Surveillance cameras are stationed everywhere so that the residents’ needs are constantly monitored. The 152 patients live in 23 apartments, and the 250 other townspeople who reside in Hogewey are actually caretakers, and live in the apartments with them. The townspeople also act as cashiers and salespeople, and while the grocery store is fully stocked, nothing has a price tag. When the patients check out, no money is exchanged.

The residents’ loved ones are able to visit daily, but the residents themselves do not leave the facility — and the only time a new patient joins the community is when a former patient passes away. People who question this type of community argue that it’s creating a fake fantasy world for the patients. But Yvonne, one of the co-founders, says that the society they’ve created is very real and that their approach is simply allowing people with dementia to enjoy life — and feel welcome in the community. Additionally, approaching the condition from an environmental angle may be the kinder option for improving quality of life, according to a correspondent at ABC News.

Hogowey was created in 2009 — but it’s still the only facility of its kind in the world. By 2030, an estimated 65 million people will have dementia. Do you believe this type of care should be available everywhere?

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