Memory Support Communities

Let’s face it, we are all living longer and, if we live long enough, most of us are going to need some help. For many, remaining in their own home is their first choice and may be the only affordable option. Unfortunately, circumstances sometimes require more resources than a home environment can provide. (Perkins 1)

As baby boomers seek options for their aging parents, they are envisioning their own future as well. Baby boomers are raising the bar in terms of what they expect from sponsors and developers. They expect quality, service, choice, variety, control and financial security. In order to be competitive, providers are stepping up to the plate.

An estimated 5.2 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease in 2014…The number of Americans with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias will escalate rapidly in coming years as the baby boom generation ages. By 2050, the number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s disease may nearly triple, from 5 million to as many as 16 million, barring the development of medical breakthroughs to prevent, slow or stop the disease.

– Latest Facts & Figures Report

The goal of Memory Support Communities today, is to provide person-centered care that respects the individual and gives them the support they need to maximize their abilities and help them continue being who they are. The question is not, “What can’t they do?” but rather, “What can they do?” and “How can we help them do it?”

I have attended several memory care summits where educators and developers have come together to brainstorm new and exciting ideas. In my first post, I want to introduce you to one of the most innovative and exciting approaches I’ve seen thus far: Hogeweyk.

Hogeweyk is an amazing gated village in the Netherlands, pioneering what many have described as a Truman Show type of dementia care.

“Instead of a nursing home, with cold steel, linoleum floors, the smell of antiseptic and staff members wearing white, they live in a neighborhood. Patients come and go as they please, because the village, which takes up a city block, is staffed by “villagers” who are really trained geriatric nurses and specialists, all there to help the residents when needed. Patients are free to take a buggy and walk to the supermarket, go grab a coffee or get a meal in the cafe. If they forget their wallet, no problem. If they get lost, there’s always a “villager” to help them get home, and if they load up with 20 cans of tomato sauce, an aide will return the extras to the grocery later that day.” (Archer)

I think this could give someone in middle stages of this disease a sense of normalcy and independence. I would be interested to see how this style of care community handles the unique challenges that come with the later stages of Alzheimer’s disease. I hope to visit one day and share a first-hand report!

Watch this CNN report:

Archer, Dale. “Stepping Back in Time: Help for Alzheimer’s.” Psychology Today. 12 Apr. 2012. Web. 1 Mar. 2015.

“Latest Facts & Figures Report.” Alzheimer’s Association. Web. 2 Mar. 2015.

Perkins, L. Bradford, and J. David Hoglund. “Senior Living Today.” Building Type Basics for Senior Living. 2nd ed. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, 2013. 1-10. Print.

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