The Town Where Everyone Has Dementia


Imagine a dementia care community where patients are free to roam where they want,grocery shop and socialize just like “regular”people. Where outdoor walkways – not fluorescent-lit halls -- connect residents’ homes. Where caregivers dress in everyday clothes and hold various jobs in town, like cashier, post-office clerk and grocery store attendant.

This is not some pie-in-the-sky fairy tale vision, but a real-life Dutch town called Hogeweyk. Located in the Netherlands outside Amsterdam and run by a government-funded nursing care company, Hogeweyk is home to 150 people, all of whom have severe dementia or Alzheimer’s. Completed in 2009, this “dementia village” offers residents the chance to live what they feel are “normal” lives.

Stretching the size of 10 football fields, Hogeweyk has the trappings of a normal town, including a grocery store, café, hardware store, beauty salon, and theater. Residents live in groups of six or seven to a house, with one or two caretakers.

Perhaps the town’s most striking feature is the style of its homes. Each of Hogeweyk’s 23 homes is designed and furnished to reflect the time period when residents’ short-term memories stopped working properly. There are homes fashioned to replicate those of the 1950s, 1970s and 2000s, because it helps residents feel like they’re at home.

Other unusual elements:

  • No currency is exchanged within the town; everything is included in the family’s payment plan
  • Cameras monitor residents around the clock
  • There is only one door in and out of town
  • Music plays constantly throughout the village

Apparently, the model works. In 2013, CNN reported that Hogeweyk residents require fewer medications, eat better, live longer and appear to be more joyful than those in standard elder-care facilities. Since its founding, dementia experts from around the globe have flocked to this tiny village in hopes of discovering the model for handling the worldwide problem of dementia.

References: The Atlantic,