#706 Growing Old to be Happy in Netherlands

“Until now, life has been nothing more than a warm-up. That is what a senior citizen wants to hear and feel.”

– Jean Paul Tréguer

It’s not a secret that Dutch citizens are among the happiest in the world. According to the first-ever World Happiness Report, the Netherlands is the 4th happiest country in the world.

But who actually are these shiny happy people?

Currently, about half of the Dutch population is above the age of 50 and the number increases every two minutes. Old age is commonly associated with health issues, immobility and loneliness.

So why are all these elderly citizens still elated with life?

One of the secrets might be in the abundant choices of living situation available. The general trend in the Netherlands is that senior citizens prefer to stay in their own homes as long as possible. But sometimes, they come to a point where it feels too much to live in a house, yet they still feel too young for nursing home.

That is where aanleunwoning comes in. The literal translation of it is “leaning dwellings,” referring to independent apartments built next to or in the vicinity of a nursing home. The tenants have the freedom and privacy of a conventional apartment, but the security and professional care of a nursing home right next door, should they need it.

There are also special places where they emphasize on the happiness of the tenants.

For the eternal pleasure-seeker, there are the Apartments for Life in Rotterdam, where happiness is clearly the ultimate goal. The main idea is the future is not clear, some of the tenants might not live to see tomorrow, so everyday should be a party. There is a video of one tenant singing karaoke, having the time of her life. And then she passed away a couple hours later.

And for drug abuser aged over 45 years old declared to be beyond rehabilitation, there is Woodstock, a special care home in The Hague. It is a combined project between The Hague’s municipality and local health provider, Parnassia. It takes a new and unique approach to drug abuse by helping to keep aging homeless people off the streets and out of trouble.

For the Alzheimer patients, the Dutch has an exemplary nursing home built as a neighborhood, the Hogewey, a gated community in Weesp, Netherlands. Everyone who lives there has severe dementia and only few either know or care that their village is a secure nursing home.

For some, this might seem like deception, but as the officer of Hogewey said, “..what the residents here experience is real. This is their normal life ..”. And the relatives have nothing but praise and gratitude.

All of these living facilities offer various organized social activities, improving their social life thus making them feel less lonely and happier.

With all these ways aimed towards comfortable living for the elderly in Netherlands, the question changed: How could they not be happy? They would be crazy not to.

– ditulis oleh Anesia Tania

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