From Ben Mulford, a law graduate working at the Iowa Department on Aging, comes an interesting description of a French village designed to give residents who have Alzheimer's Disease as much freedom and normalcy of life as possible, in a safe setting.
Work has begun on France's first "Alzheimer's village” where patients will be given free rein without medication in a purpose-built medieval-style citadel designed to increase their freedom and reduce anxiety.
Residents of the village in Dax, southwestern France, will be able to shop in a small supermarket, go to the hairdressers, local brasserie, library, gym and even a little farm. They will live in small shared houses designed to reflect their personal tastes and in four districts reminiscent of the southwestern French region between forests and the seashore.
While it may sound similar to a typical residential complex, the inhabitants are all men and women suffering from Alzheimer's, the commonest cause of dementia. . . .
The village is the brainchild of the late Henri Emmanuelli, a former Socialist minister and local MP who launched the project after reading about a Dutch gated model village in Weesp, Netherlands, seen as a pioneering care facility for elderly people with dementia.
Residents are confined to the village for their own safety but are allowed to move around freely inside and are watched over by plain-clothed medical staff. The staff don't treat patients, they care for residents, they say.
Interesting details include the plans for researchers "cohabiting" with residents, and using a high ratio of live-in carers and volunteers to stage activities. The article makes the amusing (worrying?) comparison to the plot of The Truman Show, a movie where a key resident, played by Jim Carrey, was living in a fake town.
Will this be cost effective? The projection is described as "largely funded by the region," and the prediction is it will "only cost patients €66 per day, roughly the same as the rate for a traditional nursing home in France."
I'm a bit skeptical about the "medieval" citadel design as being comforting. I doubt if residents would be that old. But, perhaps it would enhance a vacation feel to the location. I know a resident of a dementia care community, one that follows a village concept on a smaller scale, and when the misting system is operating to cool the exterior porches for all the cottages, she thinks she's at a hotel on the coast of California. That is a nice alternative to reality -- Arizona in the summertime. Plus, ambiance of the location is important to attracting and keeping workers, and to make family members and friends feel relaxed and welcome, too.