‘Alternative Reality’ Villages for Dementia Sufferers

Is it right to deceive people with dementia about their reality?

Weesp, Netherlands near Amsterdam is the location of the pioneering dementia village Hogewey, a new alternative to the standard nursing home. Established in 2009, 152 people with severe to extreme dementia are the inhabitants of the private village, which boasts a café, restaurant, theatre, mini-market and beauty salon. The 25 clubs allow residents to keep busy day-to-day, with activities such as painting, cycling, and baking as well more domestic tasks like gardening, shopping and laundry. Hogewey information officer, Isabel Van Zuthem points out that these small jobs are those that can make a person feel “they still have a life” [1].

There are no nurses in the village, so to ensure the safety and well-being of residents, specially trained health workers take the roles of neighbours, shop workers, assistants etc. Continue reading

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UK Government’s Dementia Challenge: what does this mean for Alzheimer’s?

This month, PM David Cameron announced a new scheme to raise awareness of dementia and its symptoms. Dementia Friends is a £2.4 million project funded by the Social Fund and the Department of Health [1] and led by the Alzheimer’s Society.  Can this big budget programme find a cure for Alzheimer’s?

The scheme aims to recruit 1 million volunteers by 2015 to aid people who live with dementia and change the way we think of it as a nation. These volunteers will be trained to spot the first signs of dementia, as well as providing a network and community to help people who suffer from the disease to feel more understood and integrated in society as the stigma is removed. No, this will not cure Alzheimer’s, but it is the first of several measures to come as part of the government’s Dementia Challenge.

But first, what exactly is dementia? Continue reading