We’re living longer and longer. This is true of the entire Western world, where taking care of the elderly is becoming a major concern. When I was in Japan a few years ago, I noticed all the elevators had places to sit. This care is compounded by the decline in mental function among many. According to Alzheimer’s Disease International, almost 47 million people worldwide were living with dementia in 2015, and that’s expected to reach 131 million in 2050.
One of the more imaginative solutions to caring for the elderly with diminished mental capacity is the “dementia village.” For example, Hogeweyk (a weyk being a group of houses) opened just outside Amsterdam, The Netherlands, in 2009 (https://hogeweyk.dementiavillage.com/en/). It’s a self-contained village with seven different lifestyles, and the residents manage their own lives with assistance from the staff. The facilities are also accessible to people from the surrounding area.
The idea behind a dementia village is to put the residents in familiar surroundings through “reminiscence therapy,” like a barbershop straight out of the 1960s. The Lakeridge Seniors Residence in Penetanguishene, Ontario even has a 1947 Dodge sedan, put in after a wall was broken down. Virtual reality is also being used to help stimulate reminiscence and conversations.
As this idea spreads around the world, it will be interesting to see the long-term effects such care can provide.
From “The Rise of Dementia Villages — the Happiest Places on Earth? by Neil Parmar (http://www.ozy.com/fast-forward/the-rise-of-dementia-villages-the-happiest-places-on-earth/79270? ). The illustration is from that article.