In 2019, 120 men and women will move into a village straight out of a storybook.
The residents of the village, located in southwestern France, will enjoy all the pleasures of living the relaxed, provincial life. They'll shop in a small supermarket, make appointments with a local hair stylist, go to the gym, eat out, and visit the library. They'll live in small, shared homes. They'll spend plenty of time outdoors, some of them on the village's small farm. And if animals aren't their thing, Newsweek reports that there will be plenty of activities — from games to concerts — to keep the residents occupied.
This village sounds idyllic all on its own, but it's the residents who are really special.
All of them are people living with Alzheimer's.
Alzheimer's is a deteriorative disease that causes severe problems with memory and cognition, and according to the Alzheimer's Association, it is the most common form of dementia. More than 5 million people live with it in America, and over 40 million people worldwide have some form of dementia. While researchers are working hard on finding a cure and effective treatment, the number of individuals affected appears to be steadily growing.
The problem is that as the dementia worsens, those living with it are often relegated to nursing homes, which offer necessary support but can feel lonely and bleak.
That's why "Alzheimer's Village" — as it's being colloquially referred to — is so important.
The village design allows residents to spend their time active and unstressed, enjoying a place that's not full of doctors and beeping machines.
Gabriel Bellocq, the former mayor of the area where the facility will soon stand, told Le Parisien that there will be no white coats on the premises. "We wanted the patients to feel at home in an environment that could remind them of life in the good old days," he told the outlet.
Instead, everyone, including researchers, medical assistants, and volunteers will wear plain clothes.
The research going on behind "Alzheimer's Village" will be to determine whether those living with the condition are truly happier, healthier, and less reliant on medication when they live in such a village as compared with traditional assisted living facilities. The success of the community — which is comparable in cost to nursing homes in France — could mean a change in the way that treatment of Alzheimer's is conducted.
This village in France is a huge step in revolutionizing how Alzheimer's is treated. And it's not the first.
In a facility in the Netherlands, residents receive care but enjoy the things they would have if they'd been living at home. That means dinners out, trips to shops, and even a glass of beer or wine once in a while. The only difference from living in the outside world? All the people staffing the shops and restaurants are carers. And when the residents are no longer able to function without comprehensive medical support, they don't have to leave their residences.
In Ohio, one long-term care facility has been set up to make the inside to feel like the great outdoors. Residents live in their own mini-homes, congregate on a "main street," and experience real-time night and day via time-controlled ceiling lights. The the sounds and smells of nature are ever-present.
These new facilities bring both peace and humanity to their residents, and the hope that the future holds even more breakthroughs in caregiving.
"In five years, we're going to [be able to] rehabilitate our clients where they can live independently in our environment [not in a facility]," Jean Makesh, the company's CEO, told Upworthy in 2016. "In 10 years, we're going to be able to send them back home."
These villages are only the beginning.
Learn more about the facility here: