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Living center called De Hogeweyk, aka Dementiavillage, the relationship between patients and their care is serving as a model for the rest of the world.

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In the Dutch municipality of Weesp, not far from Amsterdam, sits the village of Hogewey. At first glance, from a certain perspective, seems like a fortress: A solid podium of apartments and buildings, closed to the outside world with gates and security fences. But, inside, it is its own self-contained world: Restaurants, cafes, a supermarket, gardens, a pedestrian boulevard, and more.




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This village, however, is quite unusual. Hogewey, sometimes referred to as “Dementiaville,” is an ongoing, 20-year-old experiment in cutting-edge dementia care. Home to 152 men and women living with severe dementia, the community has 23 residential units, each shared by 6 to 8 residents.

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Around-the-clock care is provided by 240 full- and part-time “villagers” who are actually trained geriatric nurses and caregivers dressed in street clothes.



The staff takes care of everything from cooking meals and planning activities to assisting with bathing, personal care and medications. Even the individuals staffing the various village “businesses” are trained in dementia care.

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"The fact that a resident cannot function 'normally' in certain areas, being handicapped by dementia, does not mean that they no longer have a valid opinion on their day to day life and surroundings," say administrators.

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Despite opposition from some critics who thought the creation of an illusory village was immoral, Hogewey’s founders went ahead with their plans. Now residents are not required to follow a set daily schedule.

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They can choose their routines for breakfast, coffee, lunch and dinner, although each house plans its meals, shops and cooks together.



There are also 30 social “clubs,” catering to interests in classical music, baking, walking and others, and providing residents the opportunity to do some of the things they did before they became ill.

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Yvonne van Amerongen, one of the founders, adds: “It was 1992 and Hogewey was being run as an ordinary care home: wards, common rooms where 20 people sat watching TV, doing nothing, waiting for medication, for meals. It wasn’t living. It was a kind of dying.”




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People with dementia often struggle with unfamiliar spaces, colours, and even decor. At Hogeweyk, apartments are designed to reach familiar cultural touchstones, categorized into six basic "genres" of design: "goois" or upperclass (the decor looks old fashioned), homey, Christian, artisan, Indonesian, and cultural.

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