France has begun construction of an "Alzheimer's village" to serve as an open-structure facility that offers alternative therapies. It is slated to welcome approximately 120 patients upon completion by the end of 2019.
The village, located near the city center of Dax, is part of an experimental treatment for Alzheimer's patients, and the first of its kind in the country. It's inspired by a similar experiment conducted in the Netherlands.
The village will feature a number of amenities, including shops, a gym, a restaurant, and even a small farm. It aims to give patients an opportunity to lead normal lives despite their condition.
"There won't be any white coats in the village," former Dax mayor Gabriel Bellocq told French publication Le Parisien. "We wanted the patients to feel at home in an environment that could remind them of life in the good old days."
Alzheimer's Villlage In France
The village aims to mimic life outside hospital walls for Alzheimer's patients, most of whom are often confined to hospital-like living quarters. So instead of wearing uniforms, caregivers and staff will wear their normal, civilian clothes. Also, the village will look like a traditional medieval "bastide," or a fortified town common in the local Landes area. The goal is for patients to maintain a sense of normalcy and to encourage patients to socialize. Ultimately, though, the whole experiment aims to remove them from the hospital atmosphere, which is typical of nursing homes.
The village will be divided into four parts distributed around a central square. There will be trained dogs present to help patients escape their psychological isolation.
It will reportedly cost $28 million to finish, largely paid for by the regional government. The researchers plan to work side-by-side the facility to determine whether this kind of settlement gives Alzheimer's patients better treatment and lifestyle.
Local residents will be prioritized to enter the facility. Officials say the village's fees will closely match existing nursing home fees. Some form of government assistance will also be made available so as not to exclude poorer Alzheimer's patients from participating in the experiment.
Alzheimer's disease remains a massive enigma. Its cause is unclear. Trying to diagnose it early is a tall order. Worst of all, there is no known cure. Alzheimer's is the most common type of dementia, an illness that causes a decline of the brain's basic functions, including memory, reasoning, and many others, according to the NHS.
Though the exact cause isn't fully understood yet, there are a number of things believed to increase one's risk of the condition, including increasing age; a family history of the condition; untreated depression, although depression can also be one of the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease; lifestyle factors and conditions associated with cardiovascular disease.
It is estimated that 15 million people in the United States will have Alzheimer's by 2060.