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Amsterdam's 'Dementia Village' Offers New Take On Senior Care

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Assisted living facilities can be a big help to families whose loved ones have dementia. In addition to relieving some of the burden from family caregivers, the move can provide patients themselves with considerable benefits. As such facilities evolve, an innovative senior care option in Amsterdam may be indicative of the future. Known as Dementia Village, the Dutch community gives seniors with dementia the chance to roam freely throughout the area, which includes restaurants, grocery stores and parks, all under the watchful eye of professional caregivers, CNN reports.

The woman behind the project, Yvonne van Amerongen, got the idea more than 20 years ago, but it wasn't fully completed until 2009. In order to become a resident at the village, seniors have to require attention and support 24 hours a day. Van Amerongen wanted to provide this useful service while still letting the residents live life as normally as possible. Despite some criticisms that the community lies to its residents, van Amerongen says that's not the case at all.

"We have a real society here," she told CNN. "I don't think people feel fooled. They feel fooled if we just tell them a story that's not true and they know it. We're not telling stories."

Although it's the first of its kind, the example set by Amsterdam's Dementia Village could have a far-reaching impact on the senior care industry. Already, many communities have placed a greater emphasis on services such as memory care and life enrichment programs, which take a more proactive approach to helping older adults with dementia. 

Devising new ways to address dementia will prove to be increasingly important, experts say. Researchers from Chicago's Rush Institute for Healthy Aging estimate the number of seniors in the U.S. living with Alzheimer's disease - the most common form of dementia - could reach 13.8 million by 2050.

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