In Germany, 1.7 million people suffer from dementia. By 2050, there will be almost twice as many. They want to lead a normal life as long as they can, but many of them need outside help. How can we help these people manage their lives effectively?
Some communities in Germany have set up programs that help dementia patients to participate more actively in society. In the town of Ostfildern in Baden-Württemberg, Felicitas Warth -- an 81-year-old dementia patient -- is now able to shop at local stores, despite her disability. The merchants have been trained to deal with customers who suffer from dementia. The town takes an inclusive approach to these patients. This includes eleven different programs that are funded by the local government and by health insurance companies. The programs include an art studio, physical fitness Most people who suffer from dementia simply want to continue to participate in society as they always have. The Maria Martha Foundation, located in the Bavarian town of Lindau, helps them to do that. The patients do some of their own household chores, ride bicycles, and take day-trips to nearby Lake Constance. The care-givers play an active role, and that creates a win-win situation: the average number of days staff call in sick is comparatively low, and the seniors enjoy better physical health. German Alzheimer Society spokeswoman Sonja Köpf says, "Dementia certainly isn't pleasant, but it doesn't mean life has come to an end. Today, many people are concerned that they'll develop dementia symptoms. But we want to make it clear that even if your mind no longer functions as it used to, you can still lead a productive life." Our report shows how various social programs can help dementia patients to live their lives with dignity.