A village for Alzheimer’s patients, unique in France, was created two years ago in Dax, in the south-west, on the model of a Dutch village. A closed place where there is still a scent of freedom, and where we try to preserve a social life, an almost ordinary life.
Francis is 73 years old and looks like an Yves Montand actor. We meet him at the hair salon; a cozy living room, nicely old-fashioned, a vinyl sizzles on the record player. Francis came to get his hair cut, and he has his requirements: not too short along the ears.
Nathalie, the hostess, takes care of it. “ Francis does not like the leg too short. If I dare to cut it too high… Then there, it’s over between him and me she exclaims. ” I’m not coming anymore! “, abounds Francis laughing. ” It is a haven of peace here. It’s a place where we talk, where we tell each other what’s going and what’s not, especially besides “, underlines the man who came to have his hair cut.
” You know, Alzheimer’s is not a great friend. When it comes back because I forgot something, because I didn’t behave well… That’s what bothers me sometimes “, he continues, then to add: “ I had no life at home, because I was all alone. The solution was to come here, to meet people, to have a social life. » « Can you imagine if you weren’t there, what would I do? », asks Natalie. To which Francis replies, with a burst of laughter: We would be bored ! »
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“I take pleasure in making them happy”
The village is fenced, but inside, residents can come and go, as they wish, to the media library, the grocery store or the brasserie. At the edge of a pretty park, large houses. In each, live seven or eight residents, at their own pace, accompanied by carers.
Baking session that afternoon in a house with Sarah, who takes care to ask the residents what shape an éclair should have. ” My role is to accompany them throughout the day for care, meals, activitiesexplains Sarah. I take pleasure in pleasing them and ensuring that they maintain a certain autonomy. Here, the staff to accompany the villagers is not lacking.
Life seems to flow quietly. For Nathalie Bonnet, gerontologist psychologist at the Landes Village, “ it can be a space close to life at home with the possibility of picking up books at the media library, going to the hairdresser, doing some sport, and coming home to prepare a meal. We aim to ensure that the disabilities that develop with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias are no longer considered an insurmountable barrier. »
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” It is the right time “
Albert and his daughter Sabine are sitting in the cafe. Until then, Albert came once a week to the village, in day care. Now he will live there. ” I think it’s the right timesaid Sabina. His apartment is on the edge of the [route] national road so we don’t know, if he gets up at night, he finds himself on the national road waiting for a taxi in front of his house which will never arrive because it’s not the right day… It becomes borderline. .. “, she explains. ” Here there is everything you need and it is the countryside. I’m going to find my friends and I think I’ll be happy in this city “, assures his father.
Albert and Sabine, misty-eyed, part in an embrace. Tonight Albert is going to spend his first night in the village.