Meet Hogeweyk, the town inhabited exclusively by Alzheimer's patients

Armen Hareyan's picture
Hogeweyk, Alzheimer's patients city

This Dutch community is home to 152 people, all of whom suffer from advanced Alzheimer's dementia.

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South of Amsterdam (Holland), there is a community made up of 23 buildings accompanied by several parks, a theater, a supermarket, and a restaurant. So far, nothing seems unusual or out of the ordinary. However, this town’s entire population is made up of 152 seniors, all suffering from Alzheimer's and other diseases associated with senile dementia.

Hogeweyk is the name of this peculiar town and, according to the local medical institutions, it is a new type of a geriatric retirement plan, where doctors are responsible for facilitating a normal life for their patients. All the medicine in the town is stored in various unexpected places such as grocery stores and scattered pantries. A health professional can be found in every corner of Hogeweyk, and thus no emergency is left unattended.

The architect of this unprecedented town is Eloy van Hal, a graduate of consumer science, who has dedicated his life to developing health services and institutions since 1997. He had a simple but powerful idea: 'stop confusing people who are already confused'. In 2008, the new Hogeweyk model was designed (previously it was an asylum) and a few months later, the inhabitants of the new village were living a much higher quality of life and were able to maintain some memory of their experiences.

In a 2010 survey related to geriatric centers, the doctors and patients of Hogeweyk rated the town at 9.1/10, while the country average lingered behind with only a 7.5/10 rating.

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According to a study by the World Health Organization (WHO), one out of every third senior reaches the end of their lives with Alzheimer's or another form of senile dementia.

I don't know if this is a good idea or bad. What do you think? Please let us know in the comments section below. On one hand, I am thinking this is a great idea because there will be lots of support for the people living with Alzheimer's disease and their caregivers. People understanding what their neighbors go through may have more love and care toward their neighbor.

On the other hand, I am not sure if it's a good idea to isolate people who are sick and suffering from a particular disease. If we continue this path where will we stop? What do you think?

Also, check out our latest news about Alzherimer's Disease. Researchers are trying to slow down Alzheimer's Disease by stimulating brain neurons.

Image: Hogeweyk by Netherlands Tourism Bureau

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Comments

I understand your concerns but my priorities would be that they felt safe, comfortable and valued and had as much independence as was reasonable for their individual case, which the village idea would seem to provide. Routine is so important that a controlled environment like this that mimics the lifestyle they have known would seem to be a good idea.
It could be good in terms of infrastructure like floor is wheelchair friendly or walking path are even (not many stairs, Alzheimer patient can struggle with uneven floor), additionally it can be a laid back place with more greens, no pubs, some play ground to bring small kids. I don't really see it as isolation, at retirement age, they also won't want to be near morning rush hour with the working class group.
This is a good idea.. In most of the houses where people with dementia live, they don't have this much space to walk, talk, meet other people than the 6 people they live with. They can go outside on there own but they don't get lost. And there is 24/7 professional nurses working en caring for people with dementia.
Personally, I would love to see something like this in the US. It gives them their freedom that they so desperately want and need. They can go out and socialize with people of their own age and that have the same disease they have. Some aren't as bad as others and can still be helpful to their neighbors, just as they did when they were in their own home. They would not have to feel as though they are a burden to their family members (which in my case he is definitely not a burden). It seems like a place they are allowed to feel independent yet still have medical needs met immediately. As long as family are allowed to come and go when they want, and bring grand and great grandchildren for visits. It would also be nice to have a place for gardening, caring for animals. My dad stills love to tend the horses. I find he is happier after he's been with the horses. So yes I do support a community as this, as long as it stays small in population.
There is a new facility that opened in a neighboring city which caters solely to dementia/alzheimers residents. You enter a town square with benches encircling a huge live tree. Working stores are located around the inside and each resident's room is individually decorated with a theme. They offer a music room with instruments so any hidden/forgotten talents may be restored. My thoughts are that the Dutch community is an innovation that was long overdue. As another person mentioned, the residents are among their own, have the freedom to wander without fear of getting lost.
They are going to have no choice but to build these facilities. By the time the millenial generation hits their 60s ,Alz. will be one in three persons effected. It's now one in five.
I would love to see these Alzheimer's villages here in the United States. I think they could have many positive points for patients. There was supposed to be a facility tested on the west coast that mirrors this idea, but I don't know if they ever got it off the ground.
I think my mom would love this. She keeps wanting to go outside. She used to be very social and I know she misses that.