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How a Dutch “Dementia Village” Improves High quality of Life with Intentional Design


Folks affected by dementia lose their means to take an energetic half in conversations, on a regular basis actions, and their very own bodily repairs.

They’re liable to sudden temper swings, irritability, melancholy, and nervousness.

They might be stricken with delusions and wild hallucinations.

All of this stuff may be understandably upsetting to pals and households. There’s a number of stigma surrounding this example.

Caring for a partner or guardian with dementia may be an overwhelmingly isolating expertise, although nobody is extra remoted than the individual experiencing extreme cognitive decline firsthand.

Whereas many people would do something to remain out of them, the unhappy reality is residential reminiscence care amenities are sometimes the end-of-the-line actuality for these dwelling with excessive dementia.

Through the first summer time of the COVID-19 pandemic, nursing residence deaths attributed to Alzheimer’s illness and dementia elevated by greater than 20 p.c, owing to such elements as continual staffing shortages and a ban on exterior guests.

As DeAnn Walters, director of scientific affairs for the California Affiliation of Well being Services, instructed Politico:

We’re making an attempt to be supporter, social employee, caregiver, buddy and housekeeping for the resident. It’s placing a number of strain on the caregivers and the operation of the ability to verify everybody has what they want. Earlier than the pandemic we couldn’t even get socks on folks and also you’d see them strolling round barefoot.

Not the imaginative and prescient any of us would select for our guardian’s golden years, or our personal.

The Hogeweyk, a deliberate village simply exterior of Amsterdam, affords a special form of future for these with extreme dementia.

The above episode of By Design, Vox’s collection concerning the intersection of design and know-how, explores the improvements that contribute to the Hogeweyk’s residents total happiness and wellbeing.

Slightly than grouping residents collectively in a single institutional setting, they’re positioned in teams of six, with everybody inhabiting a non-public room and sharing frequent areas as they see match.

The frequent areas open onto out of doors areas that may be freely loved by all housed in that “neighborhood”. No want to attend till a employees member grants permission or finishes some process.

These wishing to enterprise additional afield can avail themselves of such nice quotidian locations as a grocery, a restaurant, a barbershop, or a theater.

These areas are designed in accordance with sure issues confirmed to work nicely in institutional settings –  for example, avoiding darkish flooring tiles, which some folks with dementia understand as holes.

However different design parts replicate the selection to err on the facet of high quality of life. Hand rails could assist in stopping falls, however so do rollators and walkers, which the residents use on their jaunts to the city squares, gardens and public facilities.

The designers consider that equipping residents with a excessive degree of freedom not solely promotes bodily exercise, it minimizes points related to dementia like aggression, confusion, and wandering.

Co-founders Eloy van Hal and Jannette Spiering write that the Hogeweyk’s critics examine it to the Truman Present, the 1998 movie wherein Jim Carrey’s title character realizes that his healthful small city life, and his each interplay along with his purported pals, neighbors, and family members, have been a arrange for a extremely rated, hidden digicam actuality TV present.

They describe The Hogeweyk as a stage for, “the memory world”, wherein actors assist the residents reside in a fictitious world. Many Alzheimer’s specialists have, nevertheless, valued The Hogeweyk for what it truly is: a well-known and protected surroundings wherein folks with dementia reside whereas retaining their very own identification and autonomy as a lot as potential. They reside in a social neighborhood with actual streets and squares, an actual restaurant with actual prospects, a grocery store for groceries and a theatre that hosts actual performances. There isn’t a pretend bus cease or publish workplace, there aren’t any pretend façades and units. The restaurant worker, the handyman, the caretaker, the nurse, the hairdresser, and many others.—briefly: everybody who works at The Hogeweyk makes use of their skilled expertise to truly help the residents and are, due to this fact, actually not actors.

Skilled care and help goes on across the clock, however not often takes centerstage. Regular life is prioritized.

A customer describes a stroll by way of a number of the Hogeweyk’s public areas:

Within the shade of one of many giant bushes, a married couple gazes fortunately on the exercise within the theatre sq.. An aged gentleman, along with a younger woman, intently research the big chess board and take turns transferring the items. On the fountain, a gaggle of girls chat loudly on vibrant backyard chairs. The story is clearly audible—it’s a couple of reminiscence of a go to to a park in Paris which had the identical chairs. Passers-by, young and old, greet the ladies enthusiastically. Just a little additional on, a girl is speaking to a person reverse her. She is gesturing wildly. After some time, one other lady joins the dialog. The 2 ladies then stroll by way of the open entrance door of Boulevard 15. 

The lined passage smells of freshly-baked cookies. The scent is coming from De Bonte Hof. Amusing conversations may be heard that pause for a second when the oven beeps within the kitchen that has been adorned in an old style type. A tray of recent cookies is faraway from the oven. Two ladies, one in a wheelchair, enter the venue, clearly seduced by the scent. They pattern the cookies. 

The grocery store throughout the road may be very busy. Purchasing trolleys loaded with groceries are pushed out of the store. The rattle of a purchasing trolley dissipates into the space because it disappears from view in direction of Grote Plein. A person reluctantly pushes the complete trolley whereas two ladies observe behind him arm in arm. The trio disappear behind the entrance door of Grote Plein 5.


A staffer’s account of a typical morning in considered one of Hogeweyk’s homes reveals extra concerning the hands-on care that permits residents to proceed having fun with their fastidiously designed residence, and the autonomous way of life it makes potential:

Mr Hendricks wakes up on the couch. He unzips his fly. I bounce up and escort him to the bathroom simply in time. I seize a roll of medicine for him from the medicine trolley. He’s now strolling to his room. We select garments collectively and I lay them out on his mattress. He washes himself on the sink. I watch briefly earlier than leaving. Fifteen minutes later, I poke my head by way of the door. That’s not how electrical shaving works! I supply to assist, however Mr. Hendricks is clearly a bit irritated and grumbles. He’ll be rather less shaven at present. We’ll attempt once more after breakfast…

We assist Mrs Stijnen into the bathe chair with the hoist. She is clearly not used to it. Discussing her intensive Swarovski assortment, displayed within the glass case in her room, seems to be a wonderful distraction. She proudly talks concerning the newest piece she acquired this yr. On to the bathe. The 2 different residents are nonetheless sleeping. Nice, that provides me the prospect to dedicate some further time to Mrs Stijnen at present. 

The doorbell rings once more and my colleague, Yasmin, walks in. She’s the acquainted face that everybody can depend on. At all times current at 8 a.m., 5 days every week. What a aid for residents and household. She, too, places her coat and bag within the locker. The washer is prepared, and Yasmin hundreds up the dryer. The desk within the eating room is then set. Yasmin places a floral tablecloth from the cabinet on the desk. Mr Hendricks lends a hand and, with some steerage, places two plates of their place, however then walks away to the couch and sits down. A Dutch breakfast with bread, cheese, chilly cuts, jam, espresso, tea and milk is served. Yasmin is making porridge for Mrs Smit. As all the time, she has breakfast in mattress. Yasmin helps Mrs Smit. It’s now 08:45 and Mr Hendricks and Mrs Stijnen are sitting on the eating desk. Yasmin pushes the chairs in and sits down herself. They chat concerning the climate, and Yasmin lends a serving to hand when wanted. 

Mr Hendricks is de facto grumpy at present and is at present grumbling at Mrs Jansen. I’m questioning if we’re overlooking one thing?

Study extra concerning the Hogeweyk, the world’s first dementia village right here.

Watch a playlist of Vox By Design episodes right here.

Associated Content material 

The Restaurant of Mistaken Orders: A Tokyo Restaurant The place All of the Servers Are Folks Residing with Dementia

How Music Can Awaken Sufferers with Alzheimer’s and Dementia

Dementia Sufferers Discover Some Everlasting Youth within the Sounds of AC/DC

Ayun Halliday is the Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine and creator, most just lately, of Artistic, Not Well-known: The Small Potato Manifesto.  Comply with her @AyunHalliday.



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