|Hogewey, a Dutch long term care facility, offers residents a village experience.|
"Our director compared it to a theater," said Isabel van Zuthem, Hogewey's information officer. "The frontstage is what all the residents experience as a normal way of living, their normal home. But backstage, we are a nursing home. Everything is arranged to give all residents all the care they need. But they feel like they're living a normal life, and that's what we think is very important."
Detractors have said this is too staged and similar to The Truman Show, a 1998 movie starring Jim Carrey whose character learns his whole life and world are a TV show for others. Another down side is the cost to construct the village -- $25 million.
|Towsley Village Memory Care in Chelsea, Michigan is built into four "neighborhoods."|
Intrigued by this village concept, I started doing a little research for similar facilities in the US. It took only a few moments to find Towsley Village Memory Care Center in Chelsea, Michigan. With a full range of services, Towsley offers independent living for Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other memory issue residents in four “neighborhoods.” The neighborhoods include clubhouses and coffee shops. Residents move into cottages and bring their own furniture.
According to the Alzheimer's Association, 5.4 million Americans (1 in 8) have Alzheimer’s disease. The cost of Alzheimer's care in American in 2012 are estimated at $200 billion. Additionally, “more than 15 million Americans provide unpaid care valued at $210 billion for persons with Alzheimer's and other dementias.” Suddenly $25 million doesn’t seem so expensive.
I think if I had a choice as a dementia patient, I would rather live in a village or neighborhood environment than one with sterile walls and uniformed nurses, if my health allowed. I would think a more normal living situation might actually help me feel less confused and frightened. I would hope it would be affordable.
What is it we need to do to help change our culture to one of “treat the person, not the disease”? Is a place like Hogweye a viable possibility for regular care in the future? How do we make it so?
In addition to being the Center's Senior Projects Director, Kristin Huff teaches courses for the Center's new Project Management Certificate for Human Services Professionals.