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The History of Rome / – 557 Model Village

The History of Rome – 557- Model Village

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In this episode of “The History of Rome” podcast titled “Model Village,” we delve into the fascinating world of dementia care and how a new architectural movement is revolutionizing the way we approach it. From the historical mistreatment of people with dementia to the innovative design principles of the Hogoike in the Netherlands, this episode explores the importance of putting human needs first and creating spaces that promote autonomy and community for those living with advanced dementia.

Main Takeaways

The Historical Treatment of Dementia

  • Dementia care has traditionally been medicalized and unstimulating, with people being locked away in poor houses, jails, and mental hospitals.
  • In the past, dementia was seen as a natural part of aging, but it is now despised and feared.
  • Medical advancements in the 20th century did not lead to progress in treating or diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease.

The Rise of Nursing Homes

  • Nursing homes became the new destination for people with dementia after mental hospitals closed, but they were often overcrowded and unsanitary.
  • Alzheimer’s disease kills 100,000 Americans every year and strikes up to 2 million elderly people.
  • People with Alzheimer’s were often described as “vegetables,” “strangers,” or “better off dead.”

The Fear-Stoking Publicity Campaigns

  • Federal funding for Alzheimer’s research surged from 4 million in the mid-1970s to 400 million by the year 2000, driven by fear-stoking publicity campaigns.
  • Very few resources have been used to study the lived experiences of people with Alzheimer’s or to improve the spaces they inhabit.

The Hogoike: A Model for Dementia-Friendly Design

  • The Hogoike in the Netherlands is a model for dementia-friendly design, with an anchoring philosophy of putting human needs first.
  • Dementia-friendly design prioritizes natural lighting, uniform countertops, and flooring to minimize visual confusion.
  • The Hogoike team hired Dutch architect Frank Vandillen for their redesign, focusing on affordable renovations and cheerfully decorated living spaces.

The Unique Concept of the Hogoike

  • In 2008, the Hogoike opened as a village, with homes, stores, cafes, streets, alleys, and parks, where everyone living there has advanced dementia but can lead a normal life.
  • The Hogoike’s unique architectural concept includes rings of privacy, allowing residents to be exposed to dozens of passing strangers and friends in public places like the courtyard.
  • The Hogoike’s design protects autonomy and allows people to live the same way they did before the advanced stages of dementia.


The Evolution of Dementia Care

In the past, people with dementia were often marginalized and neglected, with little understanding or support for their condition. However, advancements in medical science and an increased focus on research funding have brought about significant changes in how we approach dementia care today. The Hogoike in the Netherlands serves as a prime example of dementia-friendly design, prioritizing the needs and well-being of its residents.

The Hogoike: A Paradigm Shift in Design

The Hogoike’s innovative architectural concept challenges the traditional model of nursing homes and creates a vibrant community for people with advanced dementia. By incorporating elements such as natural lighting, uniform countertops, and cheerful decor, the Hogoike promotes a sense of familiarity and minimizes confusion. The rings of privacy within the village allow residents to maintain a sense of autonomy while still being part of a larger community.

Embracing Autonomy and Everyday Risk

Unlike traditional nursing homes, the Hogoike embraces everyday risk and encourages physical activity. By spreading out social hubs and creating opportunities for interaction, the village fosters a sense of belonging and engagement. The Hogoike measures success not only in terms of medical care but also in terms of the value it places on autonomy and socializing.

Changing Perceptions of Dementia

The stigma surrounding dementia has led to the mistreatment and marginalization of people with the condition. However, the Hogoike and similar dementia villages are challenging these perceptions by creating spaces that prioritize the well-being and dignity of individuals with dementia. By recognizing the value of human connection and communication, we can create a more inclusive and supportive society for those living with dementia.


The Hogoike and other dementia-friendly design initiatives are paving the way for a new approach to dementia care. By prioritizing human needs, promoting autonomy, and creating vibrant communities, we can improve the quality of life for those living with dementia. It is essential that we continue to challenge stigmas and invest in research and design that supports the well-being and dignity of individuals with dementia.

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