Thursday, 20 August 2015

Dementia Village

It's interesting to look at how other countries look after their elderly. I am fascinated by places that 'go the extra mile' and customize situations to meet individual needs in a unique way. I recently saw a  news piece on something called Dementia Village in Amsterdam. It is a true 'village' for people with dementia, without an institutional feel. There is a grocery store, hairdresser, restaurant and other amenities that  motivate residents to stay active and participate in life. There is a huge staff to resident ratio and all are trained to manage dementia. The living space is very home like and people are grouped with others who share similar interests. It is an absolutely phenomenal approach to Alzheimer's care and one that should very much be used as an example around the world.

In Ontario there are some retirement homes that have memory floors for people with dementia. They will often have items that people with short term memory loss can interact with. Things like a baby carriage and dolls. I have seen women residents carry around the dolls and push the carriages recalling a time when they had young children. There may be rooms with a calming environment to help people cope with agitation that is sometimes present. This however is not something I have seen in Long-Term Care where the majority of people with dementia end up. Homes that have these special customized floors are often private settings where the cost can be substantial so many on basic pensions cannot access the care and are left with the only other option - nursing homes.

With our growing population of seniors, it is quite obvious that we will also have a growing population of people with cognitive impairment. We, as a society, need to find innovative ways to provide care in the coming years or we may end up with many falling through the cracks in terrible living situations. Easier said than done though. Something like this would involved tremendous planning and money and most importantly, buy-in from government bodies willing to look at options for meeting the needs of the vulnerable in our society.

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