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A Paradise Village Only For People With Dementia

A Paradise Village Only For People With Dementia

There is a paradise village called Hogeweyk and it is situated just a few kilometres from Amsterdam in Holland. What is so special about this village? It caters for 150 residents who are suffering from severe dementia and/or Alzheimer’s disease. It is usually referred to as dementia village although paradise may be a more apt description. Here the residents are encouraged to lead as normal a life as possible and take part in lots of activities in a protected environment.

This is in stark contrast to the gloomy nursing homes in most countries. Those are sometimes be staffed by disgruntled and cruel staff in white coats. Patients are kept quiet with medication and follow a boring routine where they are rarely allowed out.

An ideal environment.

Living in Hogeweyk is the perfect solution because each resident can choose his/her accommodation and is assisted by two specially trained carers. It is the perfect replica of any neighborhood in that there are supermarkets, barbers and hairdressers, clubs, and gyms. Residents are encouraged to go out and about, do shopping, go for walks, meet socially and generally lead an as normal life as possible with dignity and grace.

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The village was co-founded by Yvonne van Amerongen in 1992. She and some other carers sat down and worked out what would be the best possible environment for people with severe dementia. The results have been gratifying as the residents now generally live longer, calmer and happier lives. They also eat better and need less medication. When interviewed they usually say they are happy in this environment.

Hogedrinks

    The problem of how best to treat dementia patients is an urgent one as the World Health Organisation is convinced that the numbers of people suffering from this debilitating disorder is likely to double by the year 2030.

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    Living in Hogeweyk.

    Every day, the residents go shopping in the supermarkets and shops which have been designed in the 1960s style to provide them with a familiar setting. As most severe dementia sufferers can remember their past perfectly well, this is a comforting ambience. The food is free as this expense is covered by the monthly fee of $5,000. All the staff running the hair salons and shops are fully trained and no money is ever exchanged.

    HogeSuper

      They then have to go back to their apartments and start to cook and prepare food, under the supervision of their carers as they often need round the clock care. They usually live in units which cater for 6 to 8 people although each person has their private accommodation. Carers never wear white coats. Spouses and partners are encouraged to visit the residents. It is hoped that they will be able to live together with them eventually, although the Dutch government does not provide funding for this at the moment.

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      HOGelivingOK

        Music is a very popular activity and there are sing alongs and music practice, together with theatres and other club activities. It is a fact that many people who suffer mental decline lose the power of speech but they still manage to sing and appreciate music. Apparently, the area of the brain which governs our musical capacity is the last to decline when dementia strikes.

        Social workers are on hand to deal with emergencies as sometimes newly arrived residents become aggressive or may barricade themselves inside their units.

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        How dementia needs to be treated.

        Hogeweyk has led the way and some countries and institutions are ready to follow suit. It has provided a lesson in how to treat elderly people in mental health care. The following points should be borne in mind when we have to deal with mental health patients.

        1.  Dementia patients will suffer much less if they are kept active.
        2. They should be allowed to live in a home like environment which is gated.
        3. Pharmacological treatment needs to be combined with providing them with normal activities as far as possible.
        4. Patients should never be kept in bed but encouraged to move about and be engaged with their surroundings.
        5. The care environment needs to be upgraded to reduce the possibility of patients feeling distressed.
        6. People need to be put before profits so that dementia sufferers do not lose their freedom and independence.
        7. Nurses need to be reminded to be people first, rather than mere trained specialists.
        8. People with dementia should still be allowed to make limited choices about what they want to eat and not be bossed around all the time.
        9. Carers need to adhere less and less to being a model custodian. Dementia demands much more tolerance and empathy.
        10. Denmark is leading the way in providing preventive home visits for people over the age of 75 to assess whether they are at risk of dementia. They aim to provide personal assistance wherever possible rather than admit these patients to nursing homes.

        As we can see, there is much to be done to revolutionize elderly mental health care. But at least the paradise village and other similar ventures are blazing the trail.

        Featured photo credit: IMG 0213/Hans Erkelens via flickr.com

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        Robert Locke

        Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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        Last Updated on November 11, 2019

        How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

        How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

        Have you ever noticed that some people are able to effortlessly remember even the most mundane details and quickly comprehend new things? Well, you can too!

        To unlock the full potential of your brain, you need to keep it active and acute. Wasting time on your couch watching mindless television shows or scrolling through facebook is not going to help.

        Besides getting out flashcards, what can you do to help remember things better and learn new things more quickly? Check out these 10 effective ways on how to improve memory:

        1. Exercise and Get Your Body Moving

        Exercising doesn’t just exercise the body, it also helps to exercise your brain. Obesity and the myriad of diseases that eventually set in as a result of being overweight can cause serious harm to the brain.

        Furthermore, without regular exercise, plaque starts to build up in your arteries, and your blood vessels begin to lose the ability to effectively pump blood. Plaque buildup leads to heart attacks and it also reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients that your blood carries to your brain. When the nutrients don’t make it there, the brain’s ability to function is compromised.

        To prevent this from happening, make sure you get moving every day. Even if it’s just a brisk walk, it’ll help you maintain and increase your mental acuity. Brisk walking, swimming and dancing are all excellent activities. Take a look at these 5 Ways to Find Time for Exercise.

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        2. Eliminate Stressors and Seek Help If You’re Depressed

        Anything that causes you major stress, like anger or anxiety, will in time begin to eat away the parts of your brain that are responsible for memory. Amongst the most brain-damaging stressors is depression, which is actually often misdiagnosed a a memory problem since one of its primary symptoms is the inability to concentrate.

        If you can’t concentrate, then you might feel like you are constantly forgetting things. Depression increases the levels of cortisol in your bloodstream which elevates the cortisol levels in the brain. Doctors have found that increased cortisol diminishes certain areas of the brain, especially the hippocampus which is where short-term memories are stored.

        Prolonged depression can thus destroy your brain’s ability to remember anything new. Seek professional help to combat your depression – your brain will thank you.

        3. Get a Good Night’s Sleep and Take Naps

        Getting a consistent 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night will increase your memory. During sleep, the brain firms up memories of recently acquired information.

        Getting enough sleep will help you get through the full spectrum of nocturnal cycles that are essential to optimal brain and body functioning during the waking hours. Taking a nap throughout the day, especially after learning something new, can also help you to retain those memories as well as recharge your brain and keep it sharper longer.

        4. Feed Your Brain

        Fifty to sixty percent of the brain’s overall weight is pure fat, which is used to insulate its billions of nerve cells. The better insulated a cell is, the faster it can send messages and the quicker you will be thinking.

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        This is precisely why parents are advised to feed their young children whole milk and to restrict dieting – their brains’ need fat to grow and work properly. Skimping on fats can be devastating even to the adult brain.

        Thus, eating foods that contain a healthy mix of fats is vital for long-term memory. Some excellent food choices include fish (especially anchovies, mackerel and wild salmon) and dark leafy green vegetables. Here’re more brain food choices: 12 Foods that Can Improve Your Brain Power

        Deep-fried foods obviously contain fat but their lack of nutritional value is not going to help your brain or your body, so think healthy foods and fats.

        5. Eat Breakfast and Make Sure It Includes an Egg

        According to Larry McCleary, M.D., author of  The Brain Trust Program, an egg is the ideal breakfast. Eggs contain B vitamins which help nerve cells to burn glucose, antioxidants that protect neurons against damage; and omega-3 fatty acids that keep nerve cells firing at optimal speed.

        Other foods to add to your breakfast include fruits, veggies and lean proteins. Avoid trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. Trans fats diminish the brain cells’ ability to communicate with each other and HFCS can actually shrink the brain by damaging cells.

        Having a healthy breakfast in the morning has been shown to improve performance throughout the day. If you’re too busy to have a healthy breakfast, this maybe just right for you: 33 Quick And Healthy Breakfasts For Busy Mornings

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        6. Write it Down

        If there’s something you want to remember, writing it down can help.

        It may sound like a no-brainer, but do you really know why? Writing it down creates oxygenated blood flow to areas of your brain that a responsible for your memories and literally exercises those parts of it. Here’s How Writing Things Down Can Change Your Life.

        You can start a journal, write yourself emails or even start keeping a blog – all of these activities will help to improve your capacity to remember and memorize information.

        7. Listen to Music

        Research shows that certain types of music are very helpful in recalling memories. Information that is learned while listening to a particular song or collection can often be recalled by thinking of the song or “playing” it mentally. Songs and music can serve as cues for pulling up particular memories.

        8. Visual Concepts

        In order to remember things, many people need to visualize the information they are studying.

        Pay attention to photographers, charts and other graphics that might appear in your textbook; or if you’re not studying a book, try to pull up a mental image of what it is you are trying to remember. It might also help to draw your own charts or figures, or utilize colors and highlighters to group related ideas in your notes.

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        Here, you can learn How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results.

        9. Teach Someone Else

        Reading material out loud has been shown to significantly improve memory of the material. Expanding further upon this idea is the fact that psychologists and educators have found that by having students teach new concepts to others, it helps to enhance understanding and recall.

        Teach new concepts and information to a friend or study partner, and you’ll find you remember the information a lot better.

        10. Do Crossword Puzzles, Read or Play Cards

        Studies have shown that doing crossword puzzles, read or play cards on a daily basis not only keep your brain active but also help to delay memory loss, especially in those who develop dementia.

        So pick up the daily newspaper and work on that crossword puzzle, read a book or enjoy a game of solitaire.

        Pick one to two of these tips first and start applying them to your everyday life. Very soon you’ll find yourself having better memories and a clearer head!

        More About Boosting Memory

        Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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