Australia to build its first dementia village in Tasmania to help the most disadvantaged

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Alzheimer's & Dementia Patients
Patients with Alzheimer's and dementia sit inside the Alzheimer foundation in Mexico City April 19, 2012. Reuters/Edgard Garrido

Australia is set to build its first village for people with dementia. The specially-designed $25 million suburb will be built in Tasmania and will include up to 15 houses, a supermarket, gardens, cafe, a beauty salon and cinema.

The village will be designed as a typical Tasmanian suburban cul-de-sac. It will help people with dementia live safer and more fulfilling lives as they can wander freely within a secure environment.

Heath sector superannuation fund HESTA and aged care provider Glenview Community Services partnered for the development. The Commonwealth Government also assists with the funding. There have been street-scape models within aged care facilities in the past. But the plan for an entire village for people with dementia is a first in Australia.

Real life experience

According to Glenview CEO Lucy O’Flaherty, the suburb will provide a real-life experience for people with dementia. She believes it would result to positive outcomes.

"It has been shown that residents at the De Hogeweyk dementia village live longer, eat better and take fewer medications and we hope to see similar transformative health benefits at Korongee," she told The Mercury on Wednesday. She hopes that the development will provide a more affordable option for dementia sufferers who could not afford to pay for a 24-hour care.

In an interview with ABC, O’Flaherty explained that for them, the project is about providing a service for the most disadvantaged in the community. “They'll have staff that will [take part in] discreet observation, there will be technology, the design of the facility will be as such that it will support residents within the village,” she added.

The University of Tasmania will start a demographic research to assist in the decor and design of the village’s houses. It would also compliment the resident's daily routines and match houses to lifestyle profiles.

The village is expected to allow residents to freely participate in daily life decisions. In general, this is not available in dementia care.

Nine.com.au notes that Tasmania has the fastest ageing population in Australia. Dementia has become the second leading cause of death. The biggest risk factor with dementia is age.

The figures contained in the Economic Cost of Dementia In Australia report revealed that today, an estimated 413,000 Australians are living with dementia, 55 percent of whom are women. The figure is expected to climb to 536,000 by 2025 and may reach 1.1 million by 2056.

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