Anyone who has a loved one suffering from dementia is likely on the lookout for a place their beloved will find peace and dignity. Leave it to the Dutch to create such a haven.
Within the town of Weesp in the Netherlands is a village called De Hogeweyk. Part of the nursing home organization Hogewey, the gated community is unique because it is specifically designed for elderly people with dementia. Similar to The Truman Show, its residents are watched over as doctors, nurses, caregivers and specialists work 24/7 to provide constant, necessary care.
The streets are tree-lined, there are shops, restaurants, a supermarket, a hair salon, and even a movie theatre. But all the “employees” are really people trained to care for those with dementia. And what’s even greater about Hogeweyk are the apartments that were carefully built and crafted to make those living there feel like they’re home.
It took over $27 million to build the village, which opened in December 2009, and costs roughly $7,000 per patient, per month. Finances around the village are taken out of the equation; no currency is exchanged and everything is included with the family’s payment plan. The residents (only those categorized as having “severe cases of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease” are admitted) have that freedom to walk outside, shop, catch a movie, visit with friends or simply relax, making the living conditions seem priceless.
Nursing homes can be very institutional, with nurses in uniforms and patients congregating in big, sparsely decorated rooms to eat meals, so the inhabitants of Hogeweyk tend to feel more at ease with their surroundings.
Hogewey has received some criticism for creating a fantasy world but if all they’re doing is giving patients a peaceful and natural environment to live in, and are treated with the respect and care they deserve, we don’t see anything wrong with it.