This Entire Town Was Built for Dementia Patients

In the Netherlands, that bastion of relatively affordable, comprehensive healthcare, patients with dementia aren’t just relegated to a nursing home or a hospital. Some live in an entire town devoted to assisting aging people with extreme dementia or Alzheimer’s.

Hogeweyk, a model town outside Amsterdam run by a government-funded nursing care company, bills itself as a dementia village, and houses more than 150 people. Completed in 2009, the tiny town stretches across almost 3 acres, with 23 homes where residents can live together in groups. In addition to housing, it has most of the trappings of a normal town, including a supermarket, a cafe, a hardware store, a hair salon, a restaurant, and a theater. And because it’s a care facility, it also has a physical therapy facility and an outpatient care unit.

There are caregivers to take residents to the grocery store and help out with housework, and cooks and store employees are trained to deal with people who have severe dementia. Residents are free to stroll around town or sit around in the cafe, and nearby townspeople often pop in for a concert or street fair, adding to the facility’s sense of normalcy.

Studies find that social isolation, lack of activity, and increased depression are major issues for people dealing with dementia. Being able to perform normal, everyday activities improves the quality of life for these patients, and it helps them maintain a sense of dignity and comfort. Compared to traditional institutions, Hogeweyk gives dementia patients the chance to maintain a semblance of their independence, allowing them to come and go and socialize as they please, with enough experienced caretakers around them to ensure their safety.

It's not the only city in the region with a unique approach to caring for those with mental illness: In Geel, Belgium, residents have taken mentally ill and disabled patients into their homes as boarders for more than 700 years. Hogeweyk, for its part, has received international acclaim from health researchers and designers since its inception, and has even inspired a similar facility in Ontario, Canada.

[h/t: Twisted Sifter]

The Secret World War II History Hidden in London's Fences

In South London, the remains of the UK’s World War II history are visible in an unlikely place—one that you might pass by regularly and never take a second look at. In a significant number of housing estates, the fences around the perimeter are actually upcycled medical stretchers from the war, as the design podcast 99% Invisible reports.

During the Blitz of 1940 and 1941, the UK’s Air Raid Precautions department worked to protect civilians from the bombings. The organization built 60,000 steel stretchers to carry injured people during attacks. The metal structures were designed to be easy to disinfect in case of a gas attack, but that design ended up making them perfect for reuse after the war.

Many London housing developments at the time had to remove their fences so that the metal could be used in the war effort, and once the war was over, they were looking to replace them. The London County Council came up with a solution that would benefit everyone: They repurposed the excess stretchers that the city no longer needed into residential railings.

You can tell a stretcher railing from a regular fence because of the curves in the poles at the top and bottom of the fence. They’re hand-holds, designed to make it easier to carry it.

Unfortunately, decades of being exposed to the elements have left some of these historic artifacts in poor shape, and some housing estates have removed them due to high levels of degradation. The Stretcher Railing Society is currently working to preserve these heritage pieces of London infrastructure.

As of right now, though, there are plenty of stretchers you can still find on the streets. If you're in the London area, this handy Google map shows where you can find the historic fencing.

[h/t 99% Invisible]

Guillaume Souvant, Getty Images
This Just In
For $61, You Can Become a Co-Owner of This 13th-Century French Castle
Guillaume Souvant, Getty Images
Guillaume Souvant, Getty Images

A cultural heritage restoration site recently invited people to buy a French castle for as little as $61. The only catch? You'll be co-owning it with thousands of other donors. Now thousands of shareholders are responsible for the fate of the Château de la Mothe-Chandeniers in western France, and there's still room for more people to participate.

According to Mashable, the dilapidated structure has a rich history. Since its construction in the 13th century, the castle has been invaded by foreign forces, looted, renovated, and devastated by a fire. Friends of Château de la Mothe-Chandeniers, a small foundation formed in 2016 in an effort to conserve the overgrown property, want to see the castle restored to its former glory.

Thanks to a crowdfunding collaboration with the cultural heritage restoration platform Dartagnans, the group is closer than ever to realizing its mission. More than 9000 web users have contributed €51 ($61) or more to the campaign to “adopt” Mothe-Chandeniers. Now that the original €500,000 goal has been fulfilled, the property’s new owners are responsible for deciding what to do with their purchase.

“We intend to create a dedicated platform that will allow each owner to monitor the progress of works, events, project proposals and build a real collaborative and participatory project,” the campaign page reads. “To make an abandoned ruin a collective work is the best way to protect it over time.”

Even though the initial goal has been met, Dartagnans will continue accepting funds for the project through December 25. Money collected between now and then will be used to pay for various fees related to the purchase of the site, and new donors will be added to the growing list of owners.

The shareholders will be among the first to see the cleared-out site during an initial visit next spring. The rest of the public will have to wait until it’s fully restored to see the final product.

[h/t Mashable]


More from mental floss studios