Dementia Village and The ‘Truman’ Treatment

There is a new approach to dementia care in Amsterdam, and it’s inspired by the unlikeliest of things — a Jim Carrey movie.

Hogewey is a small, privately run little town just outside of Amsterdam. It’s earned the nickname “Dementia Village” because it serves as home to more than 150 elderly people who suffer from dementia or other serious memory problems.

It’s like a traditional nursing home — except not at all. It provides the same kind of residential, community-based care, but with none of the long hallways or cold corridors.

In Dementia Village, dementia-afflicted residents live together in comfortable and inviting houses, split up in groups of six or seven. Each house is decorated as if it were still the decade in which the residents’ memories began to fail. For some, it’s the 1950s. For others, the ‘70s. There’s even a house for the 2000s. The details go all the way down to the tablecloths and the curtains.

The idea is to help residents feel like they’re in a familiar place.

Of course, Hogewey is home to more than just houses. There’s a theater, a grocer, a post office, and even a town square. Nurses wear casual clothing and help to run the village, too.

In covering the town, Advisory likens it to Jim Carrey’s hit film, The Truman Show. It makes sense, not only because of the Truman world’s idyllic home designs but also because Carrey’s character was monitored on camera everywhere he went.

Hogewey isn’t quite so invasive, but the extensive security measures do include around-the-clock video surveillance. There’s also only one doorway that leads in and out of town, the Advisory article notes — another Truman-ish touch.

The most exciting thing about Dementia Village is that it apparently works. CNN reports that its residents “require fewer medications, eat better, live longer, and appear happier” than residents in traditional senior-living facilities.

It’s certainly a novel approach to treating dementia, and one that families in America might want to explore stateside for their loved ones as well.

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