How we age is in some ways dependent upon where we age and when we age.
If we had been growing older in decades prior, we might have been living in homes with multiple generations co-existing together as the norm rather than the exception.
If we were growing older in another country and culture, we might feel it was an honor to care for aging parents.
There are countries that not only revere their senior adults but that have innovative medical practices in place to make the aging process easier and more dignified.
It Takes a Village
There is an elder care facility near Amsterdam that resembles no other memory care community. Hogewey is built to look like a village, complete with shops and theatres and restaurants.
The approximately 150 residents live in small homes in communal settings. All have received a diagnosis of severe or late stage dementia or Alzheimer’s.
In Holland, everyone pays into the state health care system with funds paid later for late-in-life health-related expenses. Thus, services received at a facility such as Hogewey cost no more than services received at a more traditional memory care community.
Living with Dignity
The homes are designed in a variety of styles – both in terms of décor and in terms of hobbies – to make the residents feel at home and comfortable. If people who suffer from illnesses that affect the mind are in surroundings that provide comfort, the anxiety they experience is reduced.
Many people who suffer from dementia have a tendency to wander from their homes or from their care communities. At Hogewey, a little wandering is ok. There are cameras to monitor the village streets. All of the workers in the village are actually caregivers dressed in plain clothes, available to assist and direct residents as needed.
Family and friends are encouraged to visit often. Residents come and go to the various shops as they please. There are no charges at theatre, for instance, because things like finances become difficult for those dealing with dementia. All of the costs are included in the Hogewey price.
Hogewey patients often require less medication and find themselves less anxious than their counterparts in traditional memory care communities.
Farming with Ease
Also in The Netherlands is a working farm – Reigershoeve - on which approximately 30 individuals with dementia live and work.
The farm has four small group care homes. The residents have their own private rooms and share a common area and kitchen. Independence is encouraged as much as each individual is able. All work outside together in the farm areas to facilitate physical exercise, independence, mental agility, and common goals.
The World Health Organization has recognized The Netherlands for their National Dementia Programme that was created in consultation with caregivers and which set national treatment and housing standards for individuals with dementia. The Dutch are also funding research into multiple aspects of dementia, from causes to treatments.
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