Experimental village for Alzheimer’s patients? France is building one

Click to play video: 'France’s first Alzheimer ‘village’ to be built in Landes'
France’s first Alzheimer ‘village’ to be built in Landes
WATCH: A village for patients with Alzheimer's disease is being built in France. – Jun 6, 2018

With the number of people with Alzheimer’s growing, France is taking a different approach to handling the disease by building an Alzheimer’s “village” which will welcome 120 patients by the end of 2019.

The village, which will be situated in Dax, in the south-western region of the country, is inspired by an experiment that is taking place near Amsterdam in the Netherlands. A dementia care home with a similar approach opened up a few years ago.

The village is aimed at providing a home-like environment, equipped with places to live, a restaurant, a hair salon, a garden and a library, among other things, according to a press release. Caregivers at the facility will be expected to wear plain clothes to make the environment feel even more home-like.

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“In this structure, no white coats will be visible. We will take a non-traditional medical approach, which will secure a positive environment within the housing units,” the press release stated in French.

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The model will also include daily social and physical activities to encourage interaction among the patients. The French village will include a research facility, which will evaluate whether the approach is successful compared to a traditional nursing home.

However, some have criticized this model, saying it sounds like something coming out of The Truman Show. The movie depicts a fake society, where everything is part of a massive TV set for a reality TV show.

But proponents say compared to a traditional nursing home, residents will be more active, require less medication and hopefully feel happier. The village will be built like a traditional historic centre of a medieval “bastide” or fortified town, so that patients have an easier time getting around.

Patients in the village are confined to the location for their “safety” but are allowed to move around freely within the village, the press release said.

Worldwide, nearly 44 million people have Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia, according to Alzheimer’s Disease International. The global cost of Alzheimer’s and dementia is estimated to be US$605 billion, which is equivalent to one per cent of the entire world’s gross domestic product.

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Many countries in North America and Europe have been grappling with the disease and figuring out a strategy to treat and handle Alzheimer’s.

According to a report by Le Monde, if the experimental Alzheimer’s village in France proves to be successful, it could lead to the opening of many more villages throughout the country.

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