The isolated village of Hogewey lies on the outskirts of Amsterdam in the small town of Wheesp. Hogewey, which is roughly the size of 10 football fields, is a cutting-edge elder care facility that houses 152 residents, all of whom suffer from dementia.
‘Dementia Village,‘ as it has become known, is a place where residents can live a seemingly normal life, but in reality are being watched all the time. Two hundred and fifty full-time and part-time geriatric nurses and specialists operate the restaurant, grocery store, hair salon, post office, and theater, but the residents don’t always realize they are caregivers, who also keep an eye on the their living quarters.
Some caretakers also pose around in street clothes, and there’s only one door in and out of town, which was designed to keep the community safe.
Similar to The Truman Show, these ‘dementia’ residents can roam freely around the courtyard-like grounds with its landscaped trees, fountains and benches – however, they cannot leave the premises.
According to CNN, the occupants’ two-story dormitory-style homes form a perimeter wall for the village, which means there is no way a resident can accidentally wander out. And if they do approach the one exit door, a staffer will politely suggest the door is locked and propose another route.
Hogeway features 23 uniquely stylized homes that are furnished around the time period when residents’ short-term memories stopped properly functioning. Here, there are homes resembling the 1950s, 1970s, and 2000s, accurate down to the tablecloths, because it helps residents feel as if they’re home.
Furthermore, because financial skills are often difficult for dementia or Alzheimer’s patients to retain, there is no currency exchanged within the confines of the village.
The Atlantic reports that residents are only admitted if they’re categorized as having “severe cases of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.” Vacancies are rare, given that a spot only opens when a current resident passes away, and the village has operated virtually at full capacity since it opened in 2009. Hogewey was primarily funded by the Dutch government and cost slightly more than $25 million to build. The cost of care is nearly $8,000 per month, but the Dutch government subsidizes the residents, all of whom receive private rooms, to varying degrees; the amount each family pays is based on income, but never exceeds $3,600.
The residents of Hogewey are said to require fewer medications and are eating better and living longer. And to many, they seem happier than those who suffer from dementia and live in the normal elderly-care facilities.
[Image via The Atlantic]