If you’ve cared for a loved one with dementia, you know how difficult it can be.
My own grandparents lived through the disease, and watching them transform before my eyes was very difficult.
But I’m not alone. More than 5 million people in the United States are living with dementia. And that number is only expected to go up as our population gets older.
While there are some habits that will help prevent the condition, one facility has its own surprising approach to treating patients with dementia.
Hogeweyk is a village of 150 people, within the town of Weesp, in the Netherlands.
Every day, the village’s elderly residents wake up, go to the cafe, meet their friends for a drink, do some grocery shopping, and enjoy Hogeweyk’s lovely gardens.
But all of the village’s residents have advanced stage dementia.
In fact, the “village” is just a very large care home, designed to look like a small town.
Hogeweyk has its own grocery store, a pub, a theater, and a post office.
The villagers are free to use real money (if they can) but usually pay with fake Hogeweyk money given to them at the start of every month.
While it may sound challenging, there’s a team of nursing home employees on hand to help the residents.
They’re just disguised as regular people – no white coats or smocks – to keep up the illusion.
Hogeweyk’s director says the inspiration for the unique nursing home was creating an independent, almost normal way of life, compatible with severe memory loss.
And life in Hogeweyk has some surprising perks.