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An Entire Village in France Built for People with Alzheimer’s

By | October 6th, 2020

Via the World Economic Forum, a look at an experimental Alzheimer’s village in France that aims to preserve its residents autonomy.

There is a village in France where nearly all of the residents are living with Alzheimer’s. And that is all part of the plan.

According to the WEF, the world population is growing older: Today, one in 11 people is 65 or older, but by 2050, that number will be one in six, and dementia will affect triple the number of people, growing from 50 million at present to roughly 150 million people globally in the next 30 years.

Researchers are studying ways to prevent Alzheimer’s and related dementias, searching for treatments and cures. This village in France is an example of efforts to improve the quality of life for the growing number of people who are living with the disease.

With a grocery shop, a hair salon, a coffee parlor, music recitals and more, the village is an experiment by researchers and the French government in providing autonomy to people living with Alzheimer’s and related dementias, and measuring the positive effects that may come from a sense of normalcy and routine.

“French researchers are watching this interest to see whether this care model can help to slow the advance of the disease,” the World Economic Forum shares in a recent video. “And whether it offers value for the money.”

Each resident pays a fee of $28,000. The French government is supporting the project as well, subsidizing about half of its operating costs.

One in ten Americans over the age of 65 is living with Alzheimer’s. One in three over the age of 85 is living with Alzheimer’s. Research supports the idea that this type of communal living and activities to engage people may give them purpose, improve quality of life and ease the symptoms of Alzheimer’s.

The model may also provide a sense of optimism for people in the early stages of the disease who know they would eventually live in a care facility.

Earlier this year, Being Patient reporter Phil Gutis, who is living with a diagnosis of early Alzheimer’s, reflected on a tour he took of a memory care facility in New Jersey. He worried at first that it would be a bleak place, but that was not what he found: “I saw men and women trying to enjoy each and every day. Talking with friends, having their hair done in a salon, eating meals amid quiet chatter,” he wrote.

“As I drove home that afternoon, I remember feeling relieved that my worst nightmares about memory-care were unwarranted. Even if I were to reach a stage of Alzheimer’s where my family could no longer care for me, I felt better knowing that there were caring places for me to go to live.”

Contact Alexandra Marvar at alex@beingpatient.com

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