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TOPIC: dementia


Aging Cities Of The Future — How Urban Planning Can Factor In For Dementia

As the population ages, the likelihood of diseases such as dementia increases. That means we need to rethink how we design and build cities for the future. A look up close from Lisbon.

LISBON — For Maria Manuela Maia, there are routes in Lisbon that are hard to forget, like the one that connects her home to the parish. But there are others where memory fails her. “Manuela is more or less autonomous,” says Orlando, her husband. “But the problem is when you change streets. Then she no longer knows where our house is.”

That's when she gets lost. And when she meets other elderly, homeless or lonely people, she talks to them. "Need something? You can come to my house and I'll help,” she says, trying to help them. Her husband, Orlando, calms her down: “That gentleman doesn't need anything, don't worry, let's go. Let's walk,” he says, guiding her through the streets.

Maria Manuela and Orlando met more than 50 years ago when Orlando was serving with the troops in Angola. “I corresponded with 22 girls,” he says. Of these 22, I would only choose one: Maria Manuela.

After so many years, the battlefield is now a different one: Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia, which leads to a progressive deterioration of cognitive functions. One of them is memory.

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Italian Alzheimer's Village, Where The Past Doesn't Exist

A facility that opened last year in the northern city of Monza offers residents a fleeting respite from the lonely, disorienting effects of dementia.

MONZA — "Rediscovered Country" (Paese Ritrovato) is a place that lives in the now. It's a small, enclosed, square-shaped village delimited by small, brightly colored houses. At its center are all the shops and services one might find in any provincial town: bar, church, minimarket, hairdresser, community recreational center. Before 10 a.m., when its four little streets are deserted, it looks like a movie set. Then, little by little, it awakens.

At the bar everyone asks for a coffee. "But we make it from barley," say the people behind the counter. "It's better to avoid caffeine."

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German Publishers Use Oldies And Pop-Up Books For Dementia Market

KARLSRUHE — Both of Annette Röser’s parents suffered from dementia, and she remembers a precious means of connecting with their hidden world was music. Her mother’s eyes would light up when Röser played folk songs or "Memories expand=1] of Heidelberg."

Röser's experience with her late parents led her to found SingLiesel Verlag, a German-language publisher specialized in books for people with dementia, reports DPA. Based in the southwest city of Karlsruhe, this specialized publisher uses sing-along and experiential books aimed at relatives who want to build a bridge to their parents or grandparents.

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You Don't Even Know My Name - A Daughter Faces Her Mother's Alzheimer's

Her eyes tear up when I come into the room although the word “daughter” holds no meaning for her anymore. When friends and relatives ask me "How’s your mother?," they are not referring to the woman I used to relate to in that role, but to a whole other person behind an invisible wall.

I give her a kiss on the cheek, and she smiles and strokes my hand. Sometimes she says or does something that seems like old times but it’s really just husks of what used to be that still linger inside her.

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