Hogewey village just outside of Amsterdam is unlike most other villages. For one thing there are cameras everywhere and the gardeners are not who they appear to be. It sounds like bad sci-fi but the village is actually a nursing home for severe cases of dementia and Alzheimer’s. The project was started by a nursing home worker Yvonne Van Amerongen, who never wanted her parents to end up in a place like the one that she worked in. The project cost $25million to get it up and running, and it requires a great deal of government subsidy, but there are many lessons we can take away from this interesting experiment.
First is that they always try to put the residents in a home which is decorated for the time period that the patients short term memory believes it to be. The patients are not confused by the items that surround them and so they feel more relaxed and at home. The seniors see this place as a real town and the townspeople, their caregivers, keep the seniors active without appearing clinical. It is really amazing what they have been able to accomplish and it costs significantly less than the average American nursing home. The actual cost of care is $8000/month, but the most residents ever pay is $3600. This mere $43,200 as compared to the $80-90,000 Americans are paying to live in traditional nursing homes.
One thing that stands out to me is how much better people do when they feel at home. This is one of the things that I have always believed about the aging process. The longer a person can stay in their home, the longer, or at least the happier they will live. People do not want to be confined, we need freedom, or in the case of this Dutch village the illusion of freedom. These patients still feel like people and that feeling goes a long way.
I like this village, but I do not see a project like it coming together over here. Unless someone can find a way to do it without all of the government subsidies I don’t want to see it over here. What I like about Hogewey is that it shows us the value of home care and maintaining a level of independence. Some people will end up going to traditional nursing homes, because they need a more care than can be accomplished at home. However, people want to stay in their homes and live a normal life for as long as that remains possible.
This scenario is all too common for people who have been a police officer or in the law enforcement industry. Dementia and Alzheimer’s patients are often helped return home after they wander off. It’s important to have the police officers trained on how to handle these special cases.
Police officers who drink tons of coffee can find some solace. A recent study on Long Term Care showed that moderate coffee drinker had a 20% reduction in Alzheimer’s. What ever the case may be there must be a comprehensive approach to address this aging word we live in so they will be protected and cared for in their old age.