Life inside the $37 million ‘Alzheimer’s village’

IT'S THE historic, multimillion-dollar social experiment that could be the turning point for people living with dementia.

Construction has begun on a $37 million (24 million euros) 'Alzheimer's village' in the south-west of France - the first in the country - that will allow residents to maintain a social life.

The village, which is built in the style of the region's bastide settlements near the city centre of Dax, will house 120 people in four different complexes and contain amenities such as shops, a gym, a restaurant and a small farm, to promote social interaction and resemble the workings of the outside world.

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Fences will be minimal, replaced by secure pathways integrated into the surrounding city.

"We wanted the patients to feel at home in an environment that could remind them of life in the good old days," Gabriel Bellocq, former mayor of Dax, where construction has begun, told daily newspaper Le Parisien.

Caregivers will wear plain clothes and alternative therapies will be offered - such as pet therapy.

Village built in the style of the region’s bastide settlements.
Village built in the style of the region’s bastide settlements. Department of Landes via Storyful

The development is based on a similar village built near Amsterdam in the Netherlands.

However, unlike that village, the French settlement will include a research centre which will compare life in the village to traditional nursing care facilities.

The construction began on Monday (French time) and is expected to be completed by 2019.

Alzheimer's and related dementias affect more than one million patients in France, with over 200,000 new cases diagnosed every year, according to France's Alzheimer's Association.

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