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How “dementia villages” work

Can miniature towns make dementia care more humane?

On any given day at the Hogeweyk, you can see locals wandering the streets, going out for coffee, folding laundry, and tending gardens, all surrounded by lush outdoor space. Located in Weesp, a Dutch city just outside Amsterdam, the Hogeweyk is a planned village intentionally designed for one purpose: maximizing quality of life for its 180 residents, all of whom have severe dementia.

Inside, nurses and doctors don’t wear uniforms, meals are cooked inside the home with groceries from the village store, and other Weesp residents are free to dine at the on-site restaurant. These design choices aim to deinstitutionalize senior living, blurring the lines between what typically happens in front of residents and what happens out of sight.

The style of care this facility pioneered has been nicknamed the “dementia village,” and it has been emulated across the world. It’s architecturally organized around choice: By giving residents a high level of freedom, its designers hope to minimize issues associated with dementia like aggression, confusion, and wandering.

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