France Begins Work on "Alzheimer's Village"


Dax, France is planning to establish itself as a purpose-built settlement for Alzheimer's patients. Resident patients will be allowed to move about the grounds without any sort of medication in an area designed like a medieval-era settlement and with the intention of broadening freedoms and minimizing anxiety. These villagers will be free to shop, get their hair done, buy beer, check out books, work out and even contribute to a farm. The village will be divided up into small communal homes tailored to patients' preferences and within four districts akin to southwestern France's forests and coastline.

Rather than serving as a traditional residence, all of the inhabitants will be Alzheimer's patients. Alzheimer's is an irreversible, ongoing brain disorder that slowly erodes a person's memory and mental faculties. Professor Jean-François Dartigues, a neurologist affiliated with the hospital of Bordeaux's Pellegrin university, believes that the village will allow Alzheimer's patients to maintain a normal social life and stated that the brain is the core organ for human relations.

Construction on the village began on May 30, 2018 and it will mark the second such community within Europe. In addition to Professor Dartigues's involvement, the village was inspired by the late Henri Emmanuelli, a Socialist minister and MP who pushed for the project upon reading about a similar gated community in Weesp, Netherlands that saw to the care and wellness of the demented elderly.

While residents are confined to the village, they are free to go anywhere and do anything within its grounds. A medical staff of plain-clothed individuals regularly monitors the residents, making sure to treat them as residents, instead of patients. Some describe the structure's premise as something similar to "The Truman Show," a film featuring Jim Carrey as a man who spends his entire life within a made-for-television community.

The village's proponents state that the community offers more freedom and joy to patients than a traditional living facility, with the added benefit of less medications; these claims will be challenged by placing young researchers in cohabitation with the 120 Alzheimer's-ridden residents, 100 live-in carers and 120 volunteers. These researchers will perform a comparative study between traditional nursing facilities and the village.

When addressing the village's architectural inspiration of a bastide, a medieval fortified town,, bastides are common to the Landes region of France. Because they are common, patients living in the Dax bastide would not be likely to become disoriented.

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