Denmark’s first dementia village

Mike the Psych's Blog

Denmark has opened a village equipped with a music library, restaurants and shops reserved for dementia sufferers.

Svendborg Demensby on the island of Funen is the first of its kind in Denmark and is modelled on similar villages in Italy, Canada and the Netherlands.

The village of 125 homes was developed on the site of an old brewery which had already been used as a care centre for the elderly. The idea is to give residents the feel of living in a small town and is expected to give dementia sufferers a safer environment and a more fulfilling life in comparison with ordinary sheltered housing. It’s a pilot scheme with plans to open similar projects in Aalborg, Odense and Herning.

The Danish Alzheimer’s Association cautiously welcomed the initiative but voiced worries about the villagers being cut off from the outside world. “It concerns us when special dementia villages are being…

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Hitchhiking robot murdered in USA

retro_robot_custom_text_sign_13668Imagine designing a robot to look helpless and vulnerable and leaving it by the roadside reliant on the kindness of strangers.

That’s what a team from Ryerson University, Toronto and McMaster University in Hamilton did. They wanted to see if a robot could trust humans. (I thought the question was whether or not humans could trust robots. We all remember HAL don’t we?)

Hitchbot was solar-powered and fitted with a GPS tracker, had a dot matrix face which could smile and it could respond to simple questions.

It hitchhiked successfully across Canada arriving in Victoria, British Columbia in a canoe with members of the Songhee First Nation. It also made it safely across Germany.

However Hitchbot came to a messy end last week when it was found decapitatated in Philadelphia, theso-called city of brotherly love. It had made it from Salem in Massachusets to New York and New Jersey prior to its demise.

The designers haven’t filed a crime report so there will be no justice for Hitchbot. Time to start a campaign I think!


Gender-free upbringing

is what a Canadian couple, David Stocker & Kathy Witterick, is attempting to do with their 4-month old child which they have called Storm.

They decided not to reveal the sex of the child, even to grandparents, as a “tribute to freedom and choice…a stand up to what the world could become in Storm’s life-time”

This, as you can imagine, created a storm in a teacup and people then started questioning how they brought up their two other children 5-year old Jazz and two-year old Kio.

They are boys by the way but you wouldn’t know from looking at them as they wear their hair long and the older boy wears pink dresses, nail varnish and sparkly ear studs. Most people assume they are girls and the parents don’t correct that assumption.

The parents believe they are giving their children the freedom to choose who they want to be unconstrained by social norms about gender. Critics say they are imposing their own ideology on their children and setting them up to be bullied.

Well they won’t be bullied at school because they won’t be going. The parents practise unschooling which is based on the idea that learning should be driven by a child’s curiosity so the kids decide what they want to do each day. It seems that the older boy doesn’t want to go to school because people ask about his gender, choice of clothes or hairstyle. The parents deny they are responsible for that and blame the way things are.

I posted on this topic last December about liberal UK parents who home-schooled and wanted to bring up their androgynously-named and ambiguous looking children without gender stereotypes and wondered if it was just a social engineering experiment.

This one certainly is and there are psychologists such as California-based (where else you might ask?) Diane Ehrensaft who wrote a guide for parents of nonconforming children including “girlyboys”. She calls such children gender creative which includes transgendered and gender hybrids but believes gender is innate. Even she worries that Storm’s parents are denying their child a way to position itself on a male-female continuum.

In Toronto, where this family live, Dr Ken Zucker is head of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and head of the gender identity service. He calls it a “social experiment of nature” and says that even making no choice is a choice and only time will tell how it affects the child.

PS Is Canada particularly politically correct? I ask because when I was on a summer school abroad a while back one of the delegates who was Canadian told a couple of us off when we referred to the waitress and said we should have said “server” – which sounds like a thing for dishing out salad.