With the astounding level of focus and attention given the medical interventions to slow, reverse or prevent dementia and age-related disease, and the equally astounding lack of progress, I find too little attention is given to innovations and advances made by individuals and corporations worldwide. Many people are familiar with the Dementia Village concept originating in the Netherlands, but organizations around the globe are developing their own innovative care concepts.
IKEA – the provider of flat pack everything, including affordable housing units called BoKlok – plans to offer a similar option for dementia patients hoping to remain independent longer. These new homes feature, among many others, dementia friendly appliances (buttons and switches rather than digital displays) and bathrooms without mirrors, which can jar those with dementia.
In Southern California a 9,000 square foot “Town Square” has been built as an adult day center. The entire town is designed to replicate a 1950’s town square; from the décor, to the street signs, to a restored Oldsmobile parked on the “street”. The town offers vintage shops, movies, and a diner in which participants find familiarity and can reminisce.
Zora, a French robot has been deployed to nursing homes on an experimental basis. Zora is designed to provide companionship to seniors between visits from caregivers and families. Zora can lead exercises, engage in game pay and other activities. The residents tend to treat Zora like a baby; caring for and playing with it. Other robots are being developed that can recognize a person’s facial expressions to interact accordingly, and even provide basic personal care support.
As advocates for clients of our elder care law firm the disease is less important to us than the associated care needs. While knowing whether a loved-on has vascular dementia rather than Alzheimer’s, or had a stroke rather than MS, is important, we focus on assuring our clients receive the best care and quality of life; whatever the disease or condition.
While the future may bring medical solutions to slow, reverse or prevent dementia and age-related disease, innovations like these make me optimistic that there is global effort focused on enhancing quality of life now.