Age Matters Clinic


Toronto Geriatric Assessment and Memory Clinic

Is It Time To Change The Way Dementia Patients Live?

Brain Sand Timer

Dealing with dementia can be difficult. Whether it is age-related or is connected to a progressive brain disease, like Alzheimer's, dementia affects the lives of both patients and their family members. It can cause bouts of forgetfulness, memory loss, mood swings, and confusion.... however, it doesn't have to rob patients of their independence. Just take a look at Hogeway, a nursing home found in the Netherlands. This home has dramatically altered the way dementia patients live. While their residents are still given the proper medical care they need, one thing is certain: this is no ordinary care centre.

Originally, Hogeway was like many other nursing homes out there. It was full of white walls and store-bought artwork. That all changed in 2010 when a couple of nurses decided it was time to make things better. They wanted to provide residents with a place they actually wanted to live in. That meant a total re-haul of the building. Gone were the impersonal rooms and sterile hallways. It was time for a change.

As it stands now, the home includes beautiful scenery and gardens, as well as a café, restaurant, market, theatre, and even a hair salon. They also offer a variety of classes to help their patients learn new skills and maintain an active social life. (Both have been found to slow down dementia related symptoms in sufferers.) A staff member from the home said that their focus was "on everything [the patients] can still do, rather than everything they can't." This mentality gives dementia patients the opportunity to live a full life every single day.

Too often, people living with dementia must rely on family members or care worker to complete their day-to-day activities. That doesn't just include medical care but also ordinary activities like grocery shopping or going out to dinner. Having all of the essentials included in the home provides patients with additional freedom, independence, and enjoyment. Just think about the possibilities! Instead of lying in bed all day, someone could go see a movie or grab lunch with another resident.

Currently, Hogeway has 150 people living there...and every single one of them has been diagnosed with a severe form of dementia. They hoped to improve the long-term care of their residents. Along the way, they managed to raise a very important question: is it time to change the way dementia patients live?

It just may be. There is - and should be - more to treatment than hospitals and bed rest. If anything, Hogeway draws attention to the fact that there are many different ways to care for dementia patients. Focusing on independence and socialization, while still providing assistance and proper medical care, allows men and women to maintain a higher quality of life for much longer. If more treatment centres followed suit, it could dramatically affect the lives of dementia patients around the world.

The truth is that dementia isn't going anywhere. There are an estimated 35.6 million people already diagnosed with some form of dementia, with 7.7 million new cases diagnosed each and every year. It is more important than ever to improve and re-focus long-term facilities. Yes, a change in dementia care may be exactly what society needs.