House of the elderly – or “Show Truman”?

In the village of Hogeva, everyday life is flowing peacefully: whether walks, calm conversations, smiles at meetings on the street. Nothing gives a nursing home: except that there are a lot of elderly people. But in fact, friendly sellers in stores are specially trained doctors. And the inhabitants of the village suffer from Alzheimer’s dementia or disease.

Hogvere’s village near Amsterdam is a quiet, almost idyllic place. A couple of dozens of pretty houses with well -groomed front gardens, a cozy square, a toy central square with your own post office and even theater. The inhabitants of the village, people are very elderly, decorously walk along the streets, rave home with bags from a supermarket, slowly talk after a cup of tea or coffee in a cafe. Sellers and cashiers, bartenders and even janitors have long known all the inhabitants in the face and by name, smile affably and still wave their hand from afar.

But this is not true. Each resident of the village of Hogeva is watched around the clock. In appearance, nothing gives a nursing home, but smiling sellers and bartenders are not at all who they seem. All this makes the local life a little like the famous film “Show Truman”. The difference is that everyone who works in the village is not actors, but doctors or younger medical personnel with special training in the field of geriatrics. And everyone who lives here suffers from severe forms of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

Hogeva is a closed medical institution, the only nursing home of this kind in the world. The idea to create such an institution came up with Ivonn van Ameerongen, who worked for many years in “ordinary” nursing houses in Holland. And every day it was more and more affirmed in the thought that in the world would never want her parents to get into one such nursing home. Van Amerongen took a dozen and a half years to interest scientists and doctors, find investors, and then go to government officials. But she achieved her: in 2009, Hogeva was opened.

Its construction cost about $ 25 million. The unique nursing home is funded by the Holland government, and the maintenance of one patient costs $ 8,000 per month. But the families of all those living here receive various subsidies from the state, and not one pays more than 3,600 dollars. This is 43,200 dollars a year. For comparison, an ordinary American nursing home costs twice as much: his family pays more than 90,000 a year for living in a separate chamber.

152 people live in Hogeva, 6–7 in the house, and each certainly in a separate room. The interior of the houses is designed in strict accordance with the era, the memories of which have been preserved in the memory of patients more or less clear-whether it is the mid-50s or early 2000s. Furniture, tablecloths, napkins, wallpaper pattern. For what? Then, why are nurses pretended to be cashiers and sellers. So that the inhabitants of Hogevaeus feel that they live a normal life.

A modern approach to the patients suffering from a “ordinary” nursing home is perhaps more honest – but absolutely ruthless. “You are sick, you are not able to take care of yourself, you can’t go out into the street, you will forget who you are, and you will never return”. The recent report of the Dutch Association of Study of Alzheimer’s disease testifies: patients with such a diagnosis, accepted into the nursing home, come out of the wards to the street on an average of 96 seconds a day. 1 Moreover, medicine is inclined to isolate patients with serious cognitive disorders. Of course, for their good: it is easier to observe and be sure that everything is in order. But, for example, a 2012 study published in Nature Neuroscience established: isolation leads to a decrease in the production of Myelin in the body – one of the main “building materials” for nerve cells. 2 and therefore, in isolated “for the sake of their own good”, dementia will only develop even faster.

Hogevae’s patients do not know that they are patients, and around the nursing home. They live in their village in full confidence that they are at home. They are free at any time where they want (of course, within the fenced territory, but everything is arranged so that they do not stumble upon bewilderment). They communicate with each other, go to the post office and to the store, to the theater and in the cafe. Relatives constantly visit them – many come here almost every day. And doctors from all over the world constantly come to the unique nursing home. The local model of patient care with dementia seems to have been the most successful in the world today. And such villages are already being built in Britain and Switzerland.

Because if a person cannot be cured, this does not mean that he cannot help. In Hogeva, they did not find a way to treat dementia – they have not found him anywhere yet. But here they found a way to make people suffering from an incurable disease live normally and with dignity. Felt full -fledged people and enjoyed life. And if for this you need to play along with it, then is it bad?

The full text of the article about the village of Hogeva in English is available on the website of The Atlantic. CNN reports from the village of Hogeva can be viewed here .

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