April 29, 2012

A ‘Truman show’ village for dementia sufferers

Filed under: Health by Branko Collin @ 2:16 pm

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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February 13, 2012

Light tables keep dementia patients lively

Filed under: Design,Technology by Branko Collin @ 1:06 pm

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.’”

(Link: De Pers. Video: Youtube / Loek Canton.)

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November 21, 2011

iPad grandpa died at age 87

Filed under: Technology by Branko Collin @ 10:51 am

Mr. Strubbe, the man we wrote about earlier because he had this delightful approach to buying computers, has died, Bright reports.

‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ was his motto, and so until recently he still used WordPerfect on an old, perfectly functioning MS DOS computer that was not troubled by virusses. “Why would I say goodbye to such a dear friend?” he asked the camera crew of consumer watchdog Consumentenbond. But then the Apple iPad came along, and the second stage of his philosophy kicked in: if something truly better comes along, why hold yourself back? And so Mr Strubbe bought an iPad.

Earlier this year Consumentenbond visited Mr Strubbe again to give a hands-on review of the iPad 2, and he seems to have liked it:

(Unfortunately, no captions this time it seems.)

(Video: Youtube / Consumentenbond.)

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August 3, 2011

The best places to live in the Netherlands

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 9:42 am

In a tongue-in-cheek article, daily De Pers figured out the ideal Dutch towns to live in for large groups of people:

For the poor, Vaals (in the Southernmost tip of the country), because it is apparently easy to get social security there. The town wants to crack down on social security tourism though.

For the gays, Hillegom (South of Haarlem), of which the Pink City Guide of Bureau Movisie says it’s the gay friendliest town in the country. The municipality is working on a policy to support eldery gays, amongst others.

For the elderly, Kerkrade (Limburg). The paper quotes a citizen as saying: “Perhaps we can even draw older people from the rest of the country or even from abroad, because growing old in Kerkrade is fun.” It doesn’t say why it is fun.

For muslims, Alblasserdam (near Rotterdam). The town sports the highest percentage of muslims in the country.

For the handicapped, Huizen (East of Amsterdam), which is quick in allotting funds for medical needs.

For the Polish, Venray (Limburg), which realizes it will always need seasonal workers, so why not be nice to them.

For the drug addicted both Amersfoort (near Utrecht) and Utrecht (near Amersfoort). Junkies get free beer in the former town, and free methadone in the latter. (Pretty girls get free beer in Weert, Limburg. From the bar owners, that is.)

For the students, Sittard (Limburg), as it has the cheapest student housing of the country.

And finally, for sailors, the devoutly religious town of Urk (near nowhere in particular) which refuses to charge boat owners money for delivering electricity and water on Sundays, as that would constitute working on a Sabbath.

(Photo: an abandoned looking factory in Huizen)

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July 26, 2011

Oldest Amsterdam resident reaches 106

Filed under: General,Health by Orangemaster @ 11:37 am

Local TV station AT5 recently reported about the oldest resident of Amsterdam, Mrs Huizinga de Vries, who just turned 106. And in true straight up in your face Amsterdam style, she answered, “I may be the oldest woman in Amsterdam, but I can’t buy anything with it.” She has 40 grandchildren, calls them regularly and knows all of their phone numbers by heart.

According to the Dutch statistics bureau, in 2010 the Netherlands had 1,743 centenarians, with an increase in male ones. As most of you may know, women live longer than men, which makes this noteworthy. The Dutch age record, set in 2005 stands at 115, which the bureau says will not be broken in the near future.

If I were to think back to all the articles written about centenarians, they always seem to encourage being cheerful, surrounded by family (happy) and having some sherry or gin once a day before bed (some kind of happy).

(Link: www.dichtbij.nl)

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November 6, 2010

Mr. Strubbe will keep using MS-DOS and Wordperfect 5.1 until he dies

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 7:30 pm

Consumer watch dog Consumentenbond interviews people that have ‘golden oldies’, devices that despite their age still function beautifully.

Mister Strubbe is still using an ancient PC with MS-DOS and Wordperfect 5.1 installed, which never causes him problems with hackers, which has no viruses, never breaks down, always works. But has Steve Jobs finally been able to convince him to make the switch? You’ll have to watch the video to find out.

Video: Youtube/Consumentenbond. Link: Sargasso.

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August 14, 2010

One in five elderly bullied by peers

Filed under: Science by Branko Collin @ 3:05 pm

elderly_manA study showed last year that 1 in 5 senior citizens in retirement homes are bullied by their fellow residents.

Hester Trompeter, student behavioural sciences at the Radboud University in Nijmegen, interviewed 121 residents. According to Trouw, the bullying took the shape of ignoring people, gossiping and systematically shutting others out from common activities. Study coordinator Ron Scholte added that since the interviewees represented the people willing to talk, the real problem might even be bigger.

Last week the Ouderenfonds (National Fund for the Elderly) called for a protocol for dealing with bullying among the elderly. On the fund’s website its director Jan Romme gave a harrowing example of a man who was afraid to leave his room for seven years and finally died in complete loneliness.

Romme sees as one of the causes of the bullying problem that the elderly no longer can choose which retirement home to live in. “Bullies are put in the same homes as their former victims, and have the advantage of having all the time in the world now, and of having been able to perfect their techniques.”

(Photo by Frank Mayne, some rights reserved)

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April 28, 2010

Residential home bins handicapped people’s voting passes

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 8:25 am

Last year, the Netherlands Supreme Court ruled that the mentally challenged who had a legal guardian are legally allowed to vote. However, in a report published by the Dutch association for care to the handicapped, the secretarial offices of residential homes rip up or throw out the voting passes. The association’s assumption is that employees do not know what to do with the passes because the actual voting is problematic. People with a physical disability are legally allowed to get help in the voting booth, but not the mentally challenged. An older man determined to vote explains that his voting pass goes to the headquarters of the residential home and not to his address. He has had to fight to make sure his pass is not thrown out to be able to vote.

Oh and electronic voting got scrapped back in 2007 for all kinds of security reasons, which probably doesn’t help, either.

(Link: trouw.nl)

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May 13, 2009

Bike folds into a stroller

Filed under: Bicycles,Design by Branko Collin @ 11:05 am

The Taga bicycle has one or two children’s seats in front, but folds into a stroller if need be, and can be folded even further so that it fits the boot of a car. Rutger at Bright seems happy with it (Dutch), as his bakfiets is too bulky and he keeps testing the cobblestones with his teeth when using his mamafiets (a regular bike designed for carrying heavy loads).

Bright’s commenters point out that the Taga looks as cool as a walker though. Well, at least you have got your mobility needs covered from cradle to grave right there. Not that it is impossible for a tricycle to look cool.

Source photos: Taga B.V.

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July 11, 2008

Virtual train compartment for restless elderly

Filed under: Art,Design,Health by Branko Collin @ 10:28 am

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.

Says SKOR:

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.

Via Toby Sterling. Photo by SKOR / Gert Jan van Rooij.

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