After Rick Santorum tried to give the Dutch medical system -- and the Dutch people -- an undeserved black eye with his outlandish claims on how the Netherlands deals with euthanasia, it seems appropriate to see how a Dutch institution provides a humane and respectful environment to older men and women suffering from severe dementia as described in the New York Times.
The residents at the Hogewey complex in picturesque Weesp, the Netherlands, live in apartments that "open onto a courtyard with benches, ponds and fountains, with beds of flowers in season," the Times reports.
While confined to the facility for their own safety, the Times reports the residents can participate in a variety of activities within the complex, they can shop at a small supermarket, attend functions at a theater, eat at a restaurant and cafe, participate in music, painting and gardening clubs.
The idea behind Hogewey is to put the patients in more familiar surroundings where they might "experience the smells and sounds of a normal household," where they don't have to sit alone.
The Times points to a World Health Organization report that forecasts the number of people suffering from dementia doubling by 2030, to more than 65 million, and tripling by 2050, as the world's population ages. "The increase comes as governments everywhere struggle to contain the runaway costs of health care."
It costs $6,555 a month to reside at Hogewey, where the patients live at six to eight to an apartment and are cared for by two or more trained professionals. There are 240 staff members to take care of 152 residents.
This seems to be a rather a steep price. However, it is not clear from the article whether the Dutch health care system helps with the expense.
But the Dutch government did contribute $22 million towards the estimated $25.2 million cost of the facility, according to The Times.
You can read more about this unique facility here.