A 17-acre elderly care village named Landais Alzheimer is currently being built near the city of Dax nestled in southwestern France. It may appear to be a senior living community like any other, but it’s unique in that it’s a village developed entirely for men and women suffering from Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
Henri Emmanuelli developed the idea after reading about a similarly established care facility for individuals with dementia in the Netherlands. Largely governmentally funded, the Village Landais Alzheimer is anticipated to cost around $36 million dollars once completed, with an expected daily resident cost of only $82 per day, which is comparable to the daily rate for traditional French nursing homes. Now-a-days, with increasing costs of care as we age, not everyone can attend a private care facility or maintain the ability to stay home despite help. The Village Landais Alzheimer is Henri’s solution.
The community is equipped with a salon, gym, restaurant, garden, 5-acre park, library, and even a small farm! Residents will maintain a sense of independence and normality by shopping in a small supermarket for their individual needs, and most importantly, in a safe space developed especially for them. The architecture will allow for residents to walk, navigate, and orient themselves within the community, something that can often prove challenging for individuals with AD.
The houses are arranged in four square-like districts that surround a central commons ground offering most amenities and an auditorium. Residents will share housing designed to respect various lifestyles and their independence and privacy, offering a familiar family way of life. Sixteen houses with 7-8 residents will reside in one of four neighborhoods. All attempts were made to make the village feel as if it’s a regular, every-day village. The neighborhoods are named after nearby towns found between Frances southwestern sea and forest, and are designed with styles to match. To help patients feel appropriately oriented the village used a more traditional and familiar look of a medieval fortified town, common in this region of France, rather than modern architecture.
Medical staff without any visible identifiers and in plain clothing will watch over residents as they go about their daily lives and may provide care if needed. Trained volunteers will be present for daily activities that sometimes consist of outside events, like sports games and plays. These volunteers, mostly from the surrounding community, will breathe life into the village and provide a link between the village and the ‘outside world’. The facility will not be an isolated village, but rather open to the town of Dax, which will help to introduce further culture. Trained dogs will also be available to prevent the psychosocial isolation often accompanied with aging and AD.
Why create an entire community dedicated to people with AD?
It will allow individuals with AD to increase their freedom while also reducing anxiety, which is a side effect highly associated with AD. The facility is hoped to create a sense of normality, community, and continuity between pre and post AD diagnosis, with an emphasis on maintaining socialization. Advocates for the village expect residents to be happier with increased activity and less required medication when compared to traditional living facilities. The fact that a place exists specifically catered to caring for loved one’s with AD, without sacrificing quality of life, should also help to lessen the worry of friends and family.
Unlike the already established Dutch site in the Netherlands, 120 young researchers will cohabitate with the Alzheimer’s residents along with 100 live-in caretakers and 120 volunteers. The researchers will identify the impact of their residential approach on patients, caregivers, and medical staff with a comparative study with traditional nursing homes. The facility is expected to open at the end of 2019. Depending on the results of the associated research, it may change the way we currently view residential housing for individuals with AD.
The following video will take you on a tour of the village. Although it has not been translated into english, it provides a nice visual of its set up and accomodations.