Dementia Care: Global Innovation

Forum Blog Dementia
Published On: July 5th, 2024Categories: Education & ResourcesTags: , , ,

To learn more on Dementia Care: Global Innovation, access Forum’s free webinar on demand, presented by Benjamin Surmi, MSG, Social Gerontologist, Director of Education and Culture, Koelsch Senior Communities.

For decades, the conversation around dementia care has often centered on clinical needs. While that remains crucial, a more holistic way of thinking has led to models that focus on the whole person — their memories, preferences, and sense of self. This ongoing shift in priorities has led to the development of innovative spaces that foster dignity, independence, and a sense of belonging. Examples both in the U.S. and abroad include:

  1. The Dutch Dementia Village Model:

Hogeweyk, a village located in the Netherlands, is a pioneering example where residents with dementia live in individual homes within a secure, self-contained village environment. The village has shops, cafes, a theater, and even a hairdresser — all staffed by caregivers who blend seamlessly into daily life. This approach promotes a sense of normalcy, choice, and social interaction, reducing feelings of isolation and anxiety.

  1. Culturally-Sensitive Design in Singapore:

Recognizing the importance of cultural familiarity, Singapore’s ECON Healthcare has adopted the best of eastern and western philosophies. In addition to offering traditional eastern medicine and acupuncture, ECON  incorporates design elements that resonate with their local populations. Centers feature familiar architecture, traditional gardens, and often a replica hawker center (open-air food court), all designed to create a comforting and stimulating environment for residents.

  1. The Power of Reminiscence Therapy:

Many care facilities are embracing reminiscence therapy, which uses familiar objects, music, and imagery to evoke positive memories. In the United States, The Eden Alternative, a well-known and revolutionary philosophy of care in its day, encouraged the creation of “memory boxes” filled with personal treasures and photos. That innovation has blossomed into an entire discipline known as Reminiscence Therapy. Whether through objects, music, or other prompts, this approach helps individuals with dementia recall and cherish positive experiences and memories from the past, stimulating mental activity and improving a person’s well-being.

These examples showcase what can be done when providers take an innovative approach to dementia care. By keeping up with innovations both internationally and at home, we can combine new ideas with our own creativity to develop living environments that are familiar, stimulating, and empowering for residents so that they can live their best lives.