The names of all patients have been changed and we have not described the illnesses or pri vate circumstances of the people shown in the pictures n older man in corduroys shuffles slowly down the bright hallway turns around and shuffles back the same way he came And not for the first time He feels the urge to leave but the life he wants to return to lies in the distant past Like all the patients in the David Ward of the Evangelisches Kranken haus Alsterdorf EKA a hospital in Hamburg he suffers from severe dementia Nurse Svenja Ostojic gently takes hold of the man s elbow and guides him to a seating area designed to look like a waiting room We could have designed this to look like a bus stop too says the head nurse but that would ve meant deceiving the patients After all the bus would never come Treating dementia patients with dignity requires empathy and in many cases creativity Please take a seat Mr Schulz says Nurse Svenja We ll come and get you in a bit Mr Schulz sits down next to the Waiting Room sign and watches the goings on in the ward for a long while The patients are in their own world says the nurse We don t want to put on a perfor mance for them but we also don t want A to keep confronting them with a reality that for the most part they don t really see anymore The David Ward is an internal ward especially for dementia patients who have been hospitalized as the result of another acute illness It was established in 2011 and was the first specialized ward for internal medicine in Germany that was specifically tailored toward dementia patients De mentia is prevalent among older patients in German acute care hospi tals Nearly one in five patients over 65 is affected as determined by a 2016 study conducted by the Mannheim University of Applied Sciences and the Technical University of Munich and funded by the Robert Bosch Stiftung One thing dementia patients need is a special setting that would be very difficult to create on a general ward says Christian Kügler who is responsi ble for the David Ward as the head physician for geriatrics and internal medicine These patients might display defensive or aggressive behavior or they might have the tendency to try to wander off he explains That would be a little overwhelming for the staff of a general ward he says Dementia

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