Last month we discussed the controversial decision by some adult children to send their aging parents out of the country for elder care. Specifically, a European trend was identified where children send parents with advanced cognitive ailments–like dementia and Alzheimer’s–to live in Asian countries while care is better and more affordable.
In theory, all moves that offer consistently quality care at a better price would be encouraged. But, the obvious downside is the lack of frequent visits between the senior and loved ones. For many, this distance is an obvious deal-breaker.
An Entire Town for Dementia
Now, another unique elder care option is emerging in Europe–an entire “town” created for those with dementia. As Gizmodo reported recently, the Netherlands is testing a one-of-a-kind idea: create entire villages for seniors with mental ailments. There has long-been discussion about making some designs within urban planning with seniors in mind–like longer crosswalk times. But, this represents the first time where planners are considering entire towns for residents with dementia.
The specific design changes from “regular” communities are myriad. Referred to by the designers as “Architecture for Protected Living,” the “villages” are often self-contained public spaces where seniors live, shop, and socialize. The general concept of the village is no different than traditional community homes–protected, all-inclusive living spots. The main difference, however, is that these villages would be expanded beyond a single building.
The pioneer of the model is the town of Weesp. Within the town is a living center known as Dementia Village (or De Hogeweyk). The village itself has been dubbed a “fortress” But the interior is essentially a self-contained village with a boulevard, cafes, grocery store, and restaurants. Dementia Village tries to take the value of closed communities (security, protection) while adding the benefits of community living (more independence, interaction, and socialization).
Expanding Elder Care Options
With this new idea, the options for seniors to receive special care continues to grow. It is possible that seniors in the coming decades will have a range of choices, including:
1) At-home caregivers (aging in place)
2) Nursing homes 3) Assisted-living communities 4) Elder care communities in foreign countries 5) Move into a Dementia Village
Obviously, finances will play a critical role in all of these options. It is one thing to have a great idea or preference for senior care, but it is another for the idea to be financially feasible. The best care usually is the most expensive. However the future of elder care may look, the connection between quality and cost will always exist. For that reason, it is prudent to plan for this possible care now, before it it too late.