In the Netherlands, medical patients who suffer from dementia are not locked away in big anonymous buildings, but instead manageable and pleasant residential areas. Patients live out their lives in a town that is devoted to caring for people with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

The town called Hogeweyk, is located just outside of Amsterdam and is run by a government-funded company. Hogeweyk holds over 152 people and stretches 4 acres, containing 23 homes. Residents live together in groups and have access to a unique supermarket, cafe, hardware store, salon, restaurant and theatre.

The village also has a dedicated therapy and outpatient care facilities.

Caregivers are in the village to accompany residents and provide assistance. All staff working at Hogeweyk are trained to communicate with people experiencing severe dementia.

This environment is extremely beneficial for the patients and allows safe freedom of mind and body. There is research indicating that music modulates genes responsible for brain functioning. Therefore, music is always dancing through the picturesque town, creating a cognitive functioning in the brain, resulting in positive physiological changes in the body, and affecting the brain at a molecular level. Studies have found that social isolation, boredom and depression are major issues for those suffering from dementia. These practices are creating a happy atmosphere for the people of Hogeweyk, helping overcome everyday challenges.

Images from the award-winning facility:

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Photograph by Madeleine Sars, Eindhoven

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Photograph by Hans Erkelens, Flickr

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Drawing by Niek Roozen, Weesp

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Drawing by Molenaar&Bol&VanDillen Architekten

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Photograph by Hans Erkelens, Flickr

According to The Atlantic:

“Residents are cared for by 250 full and part-time geriatric nurses and specialists. All helping create a community and hold a myriad of occupations in the village, like cashiers, grocery-store attendees, and post-office clerks. Finances are often one of the trickier life skills for dementia or Alzheimer’s patients to retain, which is why Hogeweyk takes it out of the equation. Everything is included in the family’s payment plan, and there is no currency exchanged within the confines of the village.”

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The various interiors of the Hogeweyk houses
Photograph by KopArt, Amstelveen

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Photograph by Anita Edridge

To maintain the “fake reality” (hyperreality) that those living at Hogeweyk are comfortable with staff do not seek to correct the residents when talking about memories, background and history. At the same time, the staff will not deceive the patients if directly asked, truthfully stating that the residents are in a place where they can receive required care for their condition. Because of the nature of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, the sufferers remember the distant past, rather than the present, so even truthful answers given by the staff will be forgotten quickly. [source]

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Photograph by KopArt, Amstelveen

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Photograph by Madeleine Sars, Eindhoven

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Photograph by Madeleine Sars, Eindhoven

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Photograph by Madeleine Sars, Eindhoven

[h/t Mental FlossThe Atlantic, Twisted Sifter]

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