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What is a dementia village, and is there a retirement home for cats?

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Being a “digital native,” I’ve seen and read my share of amazing and unusual stories online. One of these stories, a retirement house for cats, caught my attention this week. The home is called the Lincolnshire Trust for Cats in the United Kingdom and it provides a retreat for the critters who outlive their owners. How comforting is it to know that your beloved pet is going to be happy and looked after, even when you’re no longer here?

The story was reported in Mashable, and they have pictures of the “home,” which looks more like a traditional pet care facility, except for a common area with a fireplace and couch. I wonder if the cats get some kind of physical activity or time outside, or what would happen if a cat doesn’t get along with the others. And while the retirement cat house doesn’t come cheap, it seems like a good idea to keep animals from becoming homeless or ending up euthanized in a shelter.

But, here’s the thing: If we love our pets enough to have pet health insurance and retirement options, why don’t we take better care of ourselves and our retirement?

Another interesting story that I came across told the tale of a Dutch village where all of the residents have Alzheimer’s disease. The article was making the Internet rounds again after first being reported back in 2012. This time, I read it on The Atlantic, here. It is an isolated village called Hogewey near Amsterdam in The Netherlands.

The Atlantic describes it as a small village, run by medical professionals who are dressed as cashiers or gardeners, that simulates normal life, like on the movie The Truman Show. And it has security, of course. The idea behind it is to provide a safe space for people with dementia to live out the rest of their lives.

Opened in 2009, the village doesn’t have the usual nursing home-style living quarters: it features different styles of houses that even have the décor of the decade when the resident started losing their memories. All of this, to ensure that they feel at home and not lost.

I think it’s a novel idea and it presents a different approach to the way we view and treat certain illnesses, especially those of the mind. We know so little of what our brains are capable, yet in many cases pretend that a one size fits all approach should work for everyone.  

Maybe in this age of customization and personalization, this and many other things will start changing. At the very least, I’m glad I found this article again and can share it with you. What do you think?