A ‘Truman show’ village for dementia sufferers

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elderly_manThe international press have been giving a lot of attention lately to a nursing home for dementia sufferers near Amsterdam that tries to give its inhabitants a sense of living their ordinary lives.

The 152 patients living in De Hogewey, Weesp still go to the supermarket, the hairdresser and to a café, even though they generally have no idea what is going on.

Writes the Daily Mail in an extensive report:

A brainstorming process began and by early 1993 they had the answer. Yvonne says: ‘In life, we want to live with people like ourselves. We want to be surrounded by people we would choose to be friends with those with similar values, similar jobs and with similar interests.’

The result was a ‘village’ with several lifestyle options. The job of doctors and carers is to make those seven worlds as real as possible: through the way the home is decorated, the food, the music, even how the table is laid.

The lifestyles reflect the world outside the gates. The ‘Gooise’, or aristocratic Dutch; the ‘ambachtelijke’, or working class; the ‘Indische’, or those of Indonesian origin who migrated to Holland from the former colony; the ‘huiselijke’ or homemakers; the ‘culturele’ who enjoy art, music and theatre; the urban sophisticates who relish city life, and the ‘Christelijke’, for whom religion is paramount – whether Christianity or another faith.

[…]

The posher ‘residents’ dine off lace tablecloths on a table laid with fine glass and porcelain; meals are brought to the table by ‘servants’ who remain on standby in the kitchen. Their relationship with the residents is deliberately formal and submissive. Conversely, the working-class residents prefer meals to be casual, taken with their helpers or ‘family’, maybe in front of the TV.

See also this German video by 3Sat:

Although it costs approximately 5,000 euro per month to stay at De Hogewey, most of that is paid for by the insurer, dementia being covered under Dutch universal healthcare (there is a small copay of 100 euro per month, according to the video report).

Note: stays at nursing homes are generally covered by a nationwide policy (PDF, Dutch) that lets homes charge for extras such as cable television, laundry services and so on. I imagine the same goes for De Hogewey. In other words, there may be extra costs, but these are typically and easily covered by the state pension that everybody over 65 gets (AOW).

See also:

(Photo by Frank Mayne, some rights reserved)

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