By definition, Alzheimer’s disease is “progressive mental deterioration that can occur in middle or old age, due to generalized degeneration of the brain. It is the most common cause of premature senility.” It is one form of dementia that gradually gets worse over time. It affects memory, thinking, and behavior. If you know or have been around someone with Alzheimer’s, it can be very difficult to watch, as it seems like their mind takes them back to a time when they were much younger. Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s is affecting more than 5 million people in America alone. It is not uncommon to place an elderly person suffering from Alzheimer’s in a group home setting, but this can cause more stress and anguish in their lives. A town in Amsterdam decided to do something about this increasingly common disease. They created a Dementia and Alzheimer’s community. The idea, explains Hogeweyk’s creators, is to design a world that maintains as much of a resemblance to normal life as possible — without endangering the patients.
This Dementia and Alzheimer community helps to allow patients to live a more comfortable life in the “village” of Hogeweyk.
Although it looks like a village with stores, shopping, restaurants and more, it is actually a gated treatment facility.
This beautiful Alzheimer community is designed to replicate the 1950s.
The look of this sweet town has been compared to the town featured on The Truman Show.
The residents of this community have the opportunity to work and do normal daily activities all on their own.
With Alzheimer’s, the long-term memory is typically better than their short-term memory. This makes the past feel much more familiar than the present
Architects and designers were hired to create apartments that mimic those of the 1950’s to give these patients a familiar surrounding.
Every aspect of this village has the look and feel of a real town.
In every part of the town, there is what is known as a “villager”. This is a professionally trained nurse to help any of the residents when needed.
The villagers dress in normal clothes to help ease the residents versus a nurse’s uniform which can cause anxiety.
According to Psychology Today, the residents “require less medication and become calmer.”
The residents can wander, shop, stroll to the park, grab a bite to eat, all within the village. And it is a safe environment for them not to get into any danger.
Here is a map of the village, every part of it the residents can access.
Hogeweyk has room for about 152 residents, but as I am sure you can tell there is a waiting list to get in. Having a community like this is amazing for people suffering from Alzheimer’s or Dementia, making them feel “normal” and not so out-of-place. By treating residents as normal people, Hogeweyk suggests that there isn’t such a huge difference, deep down — just differing needs. Creating a city tailored to those unique needs, residents avoid the isolation that long-term medical care can cause. And on their website, I believe they truly nailed it by saying a quote from Italo Calvino’s 1978 Invisible Cities, “They already have experienced a night like this, and they were happy then.” You can see more about this community from their website here.