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posted by Blackmoore on Monday November 17 2014, @06:00PM   Printer-friendly
from the long-and-winding-road dept.

Josh Planos writes at The Atlantic that the isolated village of Hogewey on the outskirts of Amsterdam has been dubbed “Dementia Village” because it is home to residents who are only admitted if they’re categorized as having severe cases of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. "There are no wards, long hallways, or corridors at the facility," writes Planos. "Residents live in groups of six or seven to a house, with one or two caretakers. Perhaps the most unique element of the facility—apart from the stealthy “gardener” caretakers—is its approach toward housing. Hogeway features 23 uniquely stylized homes, furnished around the time period when residents’ short-term memories stopped properly functioning. There are homes resembling the 1950s, 1970s, and 2000s, accurate down to the tablecloths, because it helps residents feel as if they’re home."

In Holland, everyone pays into the state health care system during their working years, with the money then disbursed to pay for later-in-life expenses - and that means living in Hogewey does not cost any more than a traditional nursing home. The inspiration came about in 1992, when Yvonne van Amerongen and another member of staff at a traditional nursing home both had their own mothers die, being glad that their elderly parents had died quickly and had not had to endure hospital-like care. A series of research and brainstorming sessions in 1993 found that humans choose to surround and interact with other like-minded people of similar backgrounds and experiences; the arrangement at Hogewey provides this by ensuring that residents with similar backgrounds continue to live closely together. On a physical level, residents at Hogewey require fewer medications; they eat better and they live longer. On a mental level, they also seem to have more joy. "The people here keep their independence, as much as they can have of it, and they stay activ," says Theo Visser. "Here they still have a life. It's not the sort of slow, quiet death you get in other places. Here everyone feels at home."

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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Darth Turbogeek on Monday November 17 2014, @10:38PM

    by Darth Turbogeek (1073) on Monday November 17 2014, @10:38PM (#116972)

    No. What SHOULD terrify you is dying in a traditional dementia ward, like the one I worked at years ago. It is by far the most scary and depressing place I have been in - and that facilty was acknowledged as one of the best of the day. Dementia is not a nice way to go at all - it is a blur of confusion, terror and mental trauma as your brain slowly fucks you over.

    The facility in the article is a enormous step forward in that it allows dementia patients to lead lives in a way that their brain can accept. It is by far the best thing I have seen for late life dementia and the people who created it are to be highly commended, the results also are awesome. You see, dementia unlike the jokes is not just quietly slipping away into forgetfulness, it is exactly as I said - terror, confusion, mental trauma. Just imagine you wake up day after day in a location where nothing is familiar, nothing is what you want, no one you recognise and no idea what year it is - except everything is so different, you cant understand a thing that is going on.

    Now on the other hand, the patient in the dementia village recognises the year they are in, they are able to do normal activities, they have friends - the mental trauma is lessened to a huge degree. Sure, there will still be problems but these patients at the least feel at home, which in a traditional hospice is a huge problem.

    Dementia is a truly fucked up end of life thing, the easier we can make it on patients, the better.

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  • (Score: 2) by Non Sequor on Monday November 17 2014, @11:15PM

    by Non Sequor (1005) on Monday November 17 2014, @11:15PM (#116987) Journal

    Are you sure you're not creating an illusion of comfort and a functional environment by hiding the fact that any notion of progress in the patient's life has ended.

    Write your congressman. Tell him he sucks.
    • (Score: 3, Informative) by Darth Turbogeek on Monday November 17 2014, @11:34PM

      by Darth Turbogeek (1073) on Monday November 17 2014, @11:34PM (#116998)

      That's exactly what helps dementia patients out the most. There IS no hope to return the patient to reality so providing some opportunity of peace and comfort is exactly what you want to do.

      • (Score: 2) by Non Sequor on Tuesday November 18 2014, @01:10AM

        by Non Sequor (1005) on Tuesday November 18 2014, @01:10AM (#117047) Journal

        I don't want to be there though. I don't want to be kept like a knickknack. And I don't want to be placated so that people think I'm okay.

        Write your congressman. Tell him he sucks.
        • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Darth Turbogeek on Tuesday November 18 2014, @01:40AM

          by Darth Turbogeek (1073) on Tuesday November 18 2014, @01:40AM (#117055)

          No one is forcing you. But frankly your brain WONT give you the alternative you think you will have if you have dementia. You will die a horribly fucked up death as your brain traps you in a never ending nightmare. At least this way, the brain can settle on a version of reality that may grant a reasonably peaceful exit. That is so much better than the alternatives I saw.

          You ever see a 86 year old lady escape four huge orderlies, jump through a window naked and run screaming for her no longer alive husband to take her back to a home that was sold 30 years ago? You ever see people chock full of sedatives just to even be capable of sitting in a bed without their brain fucking them over? You ever work with these people? I was very anti euthenasia before working there, I sure as fuck aint now.

          • (Score: 2, Insightful) by anubi on Tuesday November 18 2014, @05:23AM

            by anubi (2828) on Tuesday November 18 2014, @05:23AM (#117121) Journal

            I am most impressed by the compassionate way the Dutch are addressing this.

            Somehow this kind of caring seems so impractical in America, where everything has to be justified by economics.

            If this kind of thing was going on near me, I would collect up a bunch of 500 series telephones and start up a little legacy telephone exchange. They won't really have to know there is not an old-school strowger switch routing their call.

            There are several TV networks near me ( especially THIS and AntennaTV ) that are resurrecting a lot of the old TV serials and movies. Do not put it past me to retransmit streams of Jango music from the 30's to the 50's on low-power AM so they can get it on old 5-tube radios. Yeah, I know, like a Disneyland for old folks - but in their state of mind, its not amusement anymore. Its home. The last one they will know.

            I already hear the cries of the MAFIAA about copyright violation.

            Its already been pointed out that making a modern TV look and act like a 50 year old one is mostly cabinetry and an Arduino.

            No more remote control... you gotta up and rotate some knobs to make it work, and you only get a dozen channels or so - but it will work the same way.... one knob for the channel, the other for the volume.

            These newer interfaces puzzle them. Hell, I have had a VCR I do not think I ever figured out how to set the clock on - and was simply furious that someone designed the thing to have me have to set it when they knew full good and well the time signal was already being transmitted on the vertical interval signal in the video stream from the station.

            The most I should have had to set was the hour.

            I can understand their brain was programmed 50 years ago, and those legacy engrams are still running in them. To me, it would seem that if a legacy interface that works as they knew it to work 50 years ago can be provided, why not? At this stage in their life, why make them miserable? They do not have long to live anyway. At least let them live the rest of their life in comfort - and that also means letting them out of this insane economically centered rat-race we made for ourselves.

            "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." [KJV: I Thessalonians 5:21]
      • (Score: 1) by dlb on Tuesday November 18 2014, @01:14AM

        by dlb (4790) on Tuesday November 18 2014, @01:14AM (#117049)

        providing some opportunity of peace and comfort is exactly what you want to do

        Which is what most of us want, to be at peace with our own existence...and I'd include to also see meaning to that existence. As an aside, I wonder if one causes the other in that does being at peace with my own existence give meaning to my life, or does having meaning to my life give me an existential contentment? Of if peace and having a sense of meaning are a package deal where, to a degree, I either have both, or neither....