As reported here, Switzerland moving forward with plans to build a mock-1950s village -- dubbed "Dementiaville" by its detractors -- catering exclusively for elderly sufferers of Alzheimer's and other debilitating mental illnesses, despite much debate in the elder-care community.

The newly approved €20 million ($32 million) project is to be built next to the Swiss village of Wiedlisbach near Bern and will provide housing and care for 150 elderly dementia patients in 23 purpose-built 1950s-style houses. The homes will be deliberately designed to recreate the atmosphere of times past to create a sense of comfort and familiarity for the residents, who often become agitated by new, unfamilar surroundings. The project's promoters said there will be no closed doors and residents will be free to move around the campus as they please, but they will not be able to leave the campus unaccompanied.

All of which is well and good -- plenty of North American long-term care facilities have created smaller-scale "neighborhoods" within its facilities with the same idea in mind. The more controversial next step, however, is that the caregivers at the Swiss campus will dress as gardeners, hairdressers, and shop assistants.

Providing familiar environs is one thing; a nurse pretending to be the proprietor of an ice-cream shop is something different entirely. It is, essentially, lying, and one thing that is essential in long-term care environments, regardless of type, is the need for the residents to maintain dignity. I can't imagine an idea like this would fly here in the United States, but never say never, I suppose.