October 15, 2020
Alzheimer’s patients fear losing their independence almost as much as they dread the loss of their cognitive abilities. But a new community in France has been designed to liberate these patients from traditional memory care units—and allow them to have freedom of choice and freedom of movement each day, the Good News Network reports.
Indeed, in southwestern France near the city of Dax, a community has been createdto fulfill the specific needs of its 105 residents—all of whom suffer from Alzheimer’s in varying stages. Built in the same spirit as De Hogeweyk, a purpose-built village for dementia patients in the Netherlands, it’s the first such facility in France.
In addition to nursing facilities, the Landais campus includes a grocery store, hair salon, cafeteria, library, and music room. Residents are given as much freedom as their conditions allow, and treated to numerous entertainments.
According to the Good News Network, they also are encouraged to participate in daily activities that can include shopping, cooking, and regular hairstyling appointments—because experts believe that sticking to a familiar routine may actually hinder the advance of the disease’s worst symptoms.
“It’s like being at home,” 82-year-old Madeleine Elissalde, one of the village’s first residents, told Reuters. “We’re well looked after.”
The program costs in the neighborhood of 6.7 million euros (US$7.8 million) to run each year. Residents and their families kick in about 24,000 euros (US$28,000) in annual fees, but more than half the total expense is subsidized by government authorities.
Expensive? Perhaps, but researchers at France’s National Institute of Health and Medical Research say that seeing how such model conditions impact the progression of dementia may ultimately hep them gain insights for future treatment standards.
In the meantime, residents of villages in France, the Netherlands, and another prototype community in Canada are able to live out the remainder of their years with not only a measure of self-esteem, dignity, and sense of purpose but some true “liberté, égalité, et fraternité” as well.
Research contact: @goodnewsnetwork