Eighteen-year-old Dutchman Niek van Weeghel together with collaborators Herbert van Til and Peter Fidder have modified some 55 old fashioned dial telephone to play songs for the elderly suffering from dementia.
“It’s nice to see how the elderly react when they pick up the ‘wonder phone’, Van Weeghel explains. “First, they are quiet and then you see that they recognised the song. Then they sing their hearts out along to it.”
A person picks up the phone, dials a number (something, if we believe YouTube, kids don’t even understand because they’ve only seen mobile phone) and then hears a song they would recognise from their younger days.
The team is also collecting old phones to make more wonder phones, which now costs about 30 euro each to make. And since it hit the media, many homes have asked to get their hands on some.
There are about 280,000 people suffering from some type of dementia in the Netherlands. In 25 years this figure is expected to reach more than 500,000.
Maybe they can also make phones that play music from other cultures for specific people.
Mover Donny Zwennes from The Hague offers a very special moving service to the elderly with dementia: he makes sure their new surroundings are exactly the same as they were in their home. Some of his clients have no idea that they’ve moved, and that’s exactly what Zwennes wants to offer. He calls it ‘duplicating’.
Zwennes takes pictures and notes all the things that need to be moved and where they were. Once he gets to the nursing home, he ignores the best place to put people’s belongings and puts things back exactly as they were, which is excellent for dementia sufferers. He also listens to their stories about that one lamp and that painting above the bed, allowing him to know what objects clients are most attached to.
According to the AD newspaper, the country’s first Alzheimer’s café was opened in The Hague, a place where Zwennes’ father handled the sound installation. It is also where he learnt about the specific problems of dementia sufferers and their families. Zwennes quickly realised that moving the elderly with dementia was a specific problem as well as a niche market. To this day, he’s the only mover in the country that offers such a personalised service.
The euthanasia hospital in The Hague, Levenseindekliniek, is too popular.
Parool reports that there is a waiting list of four months. The clinic, which caters to people with a death wish and whose own doctor refuses to help them, has had to expand from six teams to seventeen, but still has difficulty catering to the demand. Last year more than 700 patients applied, but on 31 January only 94 people had been killed. Almost twice that number, 180, had been refused.
The strict Dutch euthanasia law makes it difficult to get euthanized. A request for euthanasia must be made repeatedly and patients must be of sound mind when they make such a request. Requests must be verified by at least two doctors. These criteria make it difficult for example to euthanize people with dementia, although it is apparently possible. Doctors who break the euthanasia law by not applying the six criteria of due care face stiff prison sentences.
The Levenseindekliniek was founded by the Dutch Association for a Voluntary End to Life (NVVE, 1973) in order to enable people to “say goodbye to life in a humane manner while surrounded by loved ones”. Currently the clinic is funded by its members and getting euthanized is free, NOS reports. There doesn’t seem to be an actual building associated with the clinic, it’s more of a roaming death teams type of thing.
Meet Hector, a robot developed by Dutch company Smart Homes (with the help of a lot of partners across Europe). His task is to help dementia sufferers around the home, and as a result help them be able to live at home longer.
Hector is an in-home caregiver for elderly people who have mild cognitive impairment. It provides reminders for everyday tasks, like taking medications, calling people back and storing grocery lists. For individuals experiencing occasional memory loss, it’s no doubt useful to have Hector collect wallet and keys. Hector can even detect falls and respond to verbal commands. He’s like a walking, talking smartphone, with a much larger touch screen and smarter “brain.”
Hector works by presenting his owner with reminders from time to time. It also monitors the owner’s health.
Not unrelated: researchers from the Radboud University in Nijmegen have called for a rethink of end-of-life care due to the ageing population, BBC reports.
(Source image: screenshot from the video. Video: Youtube / Smart Homes.)
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.
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).
Loek Canton graduated with honours as a design engineer in Delft last Friday with the design of a table that produces light. In cooperation with psychology students from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, he studied the effects of his table on dementia sufferers.
According to the Delft University of Technology, “fifteen elderly people took part. [Loek Canton] observed the effects of the light tables on the residents by interviewing participants and care staff. ‘The initial results provide a positive indication that the light tables have the desired effect on the activity and mood of participants’, says Canton. ‘When using the tables, residents sleep less, are more active and communicate more. The light tables were well received by participants, as they interacted with the objects.’”
Earlier this year the inmates residents of a nursing home for the elderly called De Bieslandhof in Delft got a virtual train compartment to lounge in. The compartment which consists of a number of seats and screens placed in portrait position was commissioned by the home itself in cooperation with SKOR (Foundation for Art and Public Space). The screens show a Dutch landscape of tree-lined meadows gently rolling by.
Groups of residents can have a cup of tea or coffee in De coupé [the name of the objet d’art, translates as The compartment—Branko] as well as receive a hot meal. Moreover, the work seems to have an added therapeutic value since the more restless residents who used to constantly stand in front of closed doors because they wanted to escape from the nursing home, are now calmly enjoying a few hours in De coupé instead.
And the artists, Lino Hellings and Yvonne Dröge Wendel, document the process (Dutch) in their online diary:
We now have a good idea of what the video should look like. 80 % sky with cumulus clouds and 20 % underexposed landscape, preferably rows of trees. The view should be filmed in landscape mode, then cut in two, and twice recorded vertically. The same image is shown mirrored on the other side.
We discover an old steam train between Hoorn and Medemblik. The windows are perfect, as is the speed. We use old socks filled with coffee beans as a camera stand.