In an attempt to keep patients as physically and psychologically comfortable as possible, a town-within-a-town in the Netherlands allows people with dementia to walk, shop and eat—and nearly everything else one does in a community—safely.
Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan explains the town of Hogeweyk at Gizmodo:
Each apartment hosts six to eight people, including caretakers—who wear street clothes—and the relationship between the two is unique. Residents help with everything from cooking to cleaning. They can buy whatever they want from the grocery. They can get their hair done or go to a restaurant. It’s those basic routines and rituals that can help residents maintain a better quality of living.
… People with dementia often struggle with unfamiliar spaces, colors, and even decor. At Hogeweyk, apartments are designed to reach familiar cultural touchstones, categorized into six basic “genres” of design: “goois” or upperclass (the decor looks old fashioned), homey, Christian, artisan, Indonesian, and cultural.
… What Hogeweyk reveals, though, is the culturally-ingrained way we distinguish between those who do and don’t suffer from dementia. By treating residents as normal people, Hogeweyk seems to suggest that there isn’t such a huge difference, deep down—just differing needs. By designing a city tailored to those unique needs, residents avoid the dehumanization that long-term medical care can unintentionally cause.