The town that dementia built 79



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Dementia can be so debilitating, and one of the most scary things about the disease is how lost it can make you feel. You don’t know your name, who these people are or where you are. It can be even more scary and worrying for the sufferer’s carers or family, who worry that they will go missing as a result of their illness.

But there is one town in the Netherlands that is revolutionising how we treat those who are suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia. You see, Hogewey aka “Dementia Village” is a Dutch town within a nursing home and you guess it: the villagers all have dementia. While it might sound cruel or strange at first thought, this semi-miniature town, ala The Truman Show, is actually a very carefully planned idea by the caretakers of dementia sufferers just outside of Amsterdam.

Yvonne van Amerongen’s mother was just wiling away the days in a nursing home and it inspired her to give sufferers something more, so she decided to build the isolated village of Hogewey, a project that took 20 years. It is now the size of about 10 football fields and has everything its inhabitants need: a town square, a theatre, a garden and a post office, among other little stores and shops. The best part of all is that friends and family are encouraged to visit their loved ones.

Carers, dressed as residents themselves, carefully watch the men and women with dementia and Alzheimer’s, whose only way in and out of the town is via one door to make sure they are safe, but also free to roam the large town.

The Hogewey residents have had great results from the Dementia Village, and CNN reports that they have had to take fewer medications, they eat better, live longer, and appear happier than their counterparts in conventional nursing homes.

Within the village, there are six to seven people in a house, with 23 unique homes in the town. As a beautiful touch, each home has finishes from the time period that its residents’ last remember, with some modernised and some set in the 50s, 60s or 70s.

It’s clear that the innovative village gives dementia or Alzheimer’s sufferers a sense of independence that can be so quickly taken away as soon as they are diagnosed with the disease. To help the residents integrate into life in the village, there are around 250 staff who act as cashiers, gardeners and clerks.

Watch this CNN report about the village:


Isolation is something that so many people with Alzheimer’s and dementia feel, so could you imagine if more of these brilliant villages were set up? Would you want to live in Hogewey if you had dementia? Tell us below.

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The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. They built one in Australia but they can’t remember where they built it.

    7 REPLY
    • I think it is a wonderful concept and would benefit sufferers of these horrible diseases and give them a more pleasant outlook. Tim Hodgetts, there is always a moron who knocks any good idea, and for this one, you are it!

    • Well Tim, I laughed ,not having had the sense of humour by pass done just yet.
      I too have known and loved family and friends with dementia but sometimes if you don’t laugh you would spend all day crying!
      The Dutch idea sounds tremendous.

    • Know u mean to b funny but something’s just come across as bad taste and hurtful to the families that have to live with this cruel disease

    • My darling had the dementia where she had lost speech totally and became a walker that at times got lost thanks for my experience with GPS on trucks for tracking that I manage to find a person that sold GPS for people ( now they are inbuilt in your new phones ) . Not having any experience with caring for a Dementia love one I kept my darling wife at home ( even built a room for her so she can look,hear and smell fresh air which was secure ) and best of all my Darling was a privileged to care for until she pass on in my care not a nursing home . Still missed.

  2. If all nursing homes were like this one we’d have no worries about our older citizens being taken care of. I for one would be quite happy to go to a place like that if I ever had to.

  3. Its a great idea….better than walking up and down a corridor or sitting infront of a tv all day…..

  4. This is an incredible concept! The number of Australians living with dementia is expected to increase to 400,000 in less than ten years… This needs to be brought here stat.

  5. This is the cruellest disease, and I get so exasperated when I find they medicate the patients to the degree they just loll around and sleep all day. I love this concept and I would wish for this to happen here.

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