Dementia patients struggle to maintain a sense of independence, often finding themselves in a traditional nursing home setting that can distance them from the outside world. Dutch Town is an innovative care model that helps uphold their independence by creating a small community specifically for people with dementia. In this village-like environment, patients live in individual houses and experience normalcy in their daily routine. The unique environment also allows for cognitive impairment to be addressed through increased safety and stimulation, allowing these individuals to remain independent for longer periods of time compared to the traditional nursing home model. Through Dutch Town’s innovative approach, dementia patients are provided with an opportunity to interact with others and engage in meaningful activity while living safely in an environment designed specifically for them.
Dutch Town: The Village For Dementia Patients
The isolated dementia village, funded by the Dutch government, includes streets, shops, and homes to enable dementia patients to have a sense of independence. With close monitoring and care per patient provided by staff and family members, Dutch Town is a welcome effort to create an environment that allows dementia patients to live as normal of a lifestyle as possible. (1)
This unique approach brings different social classes and cultures together in one location to benefit those with dementia. This relieves some of the load from families who normally take on responsibility for their loved ones with the illness. Dutch Town allows its residents to live meaningful lives and encourages them to engage with other villagers in activities such as gardening or going for walks around the village. (2)
What Is Dutch Town All About?
It is a care village specifically designed for those suffering from memory loss and dementia, allowing them to live independently in a safe and secure environment. This village is called Hogewayk, or De Hogeweyk, and is located in Weesp, just 10 km southwest of Amsterdam central. It consists of independent housing units with amenities such as hair salons and restaurants. Residents can create positive recollections while living amongst other people who are facing similar challenges.
The care center in the village also offers medical support when needed. There are now several similar villages worldwide that model Dutch Town’s concept of memory care. They provide an environment where people with dementia can experience independence, dignity, and respect in their day-to-day lives. These villages offer a safe town atmosphere that enables its residents to feel secure while allowing them to make meaningful social connections with their peers who share similar experiences.
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A Unique Way To Support Those With Dementia and Alzheimer’s
The dementia village is a unique concept that provides permanent residents with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia the opportunity to live in a safe and supportive environment while maintaining their sense of independence. The isolated village offers patients much more freedom than traditional care facilities, allowing them to lead normal lives by participating in activities such as shopping at stores, meeting new people, and visiting restaurants. This helps them feel like they are part of a community rather than just living in an institution. Residents can also visit their hometowns or participate in other special events if they choose to do so.
Hogeweyk is a one-of-a-kind village in the Netherlands that was built specifically for people with severe dementia. Funded by the Dutch government, this special place is an alternative to traditional nursing homes and is designed to help residents maintain their independence. Hogeweyk consists of several small houses, each representing a distinct neighborhood. It is three acres in size and has residents living together in small groups divided into 23 different homes. It is social and safe all while still providing the health care that these people require.
Life In Hogeweyk
So what is it like to live in this dementia village? Truthfully, it is almost just like living in a normal town or village. If you visit the 180-resident town, you will see the locals going about their daily business: Shopping, visiting cafes, tending their gardens, and more. The only difference is that all of these residents have severe dementia. The nurses and doctors who work in the village don’t wear regular uniforms for their professions. They cook meals inside the residents’ homes with food from the village grocery store. If they want, they can visit the local restaurant, as can other residents of Weesp. On the village’s website, they say:
The Hogeweyk is just like any other neighborhood. A neighborhood that is part of the broader society in the town of Weesp. In The Hogeweyk you will find houses where people live together based on similar lifestyles. They can visit the pub, restaurant, theater, the supermarket or one of the many offered clubs. The concept supports unique needs, lifestyles and personal preferences. Living in The Hogeweyk puts boredom, loneliness and hopelessness in another perspective. It focusses on possibilities, not on disabilities. And it goes without saying that this is all supported by trained professionals.
They Are People Before Dementia Patients
There are opportunities to be active, such as walking and some biking (a cornerstone of Dutch culture). Residents are also given a certain level of autonomy and choice each day. Even if the staff know that a resident takes sugar in their coffee, they will still ask each time so that they get to make that decision themselves.
“All the residents living here need medical treatment, yes. They all have medication. They all have [an] advanced stage of dementia,” said facility manager Eloy van Hal. “But they are first a person. That’s why there are people living here with dementia, and not demented people.” (3)
Hopefully more places will begin to take on this mentality and give people living with dementia a better, more normal life.
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- “The Hogeweyk® – normal life for people living with severe dementia.” Hogeweyk
- “How “dementia villages” work.” Vox. Christophe Haubursin. August 18, 2022.
- “Inside the Dutch ‘dementia village’ that offers beer, bingo, and top-notch healthcare.” Business Insider. Chris Weller. August 2, 2017.