Virtual Dementia Tour gives first-hand experience of disease
The Daily Record
By Emily Morgan
WOOSTER — Dementia is a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life, but understanding the disease can be difficult without experiencing the challenges that come with it.
Wayne County Care Center recently gave their staff and residents’ family members a small glimpse of the struggle their dementia patients experience every day with the Virtual Dementia Tour, developed by Second Wind Dreams and administered by Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care.
The VDT uses patented sensory tools and instruction based on research conducted by P.K. Beville, M.S., a specialist in geriatrics and the founder of Second Wind Dreams, to build a greater understanding of dementia, according to the organization.
Crossroads staff members outfitted participants with Second Wind Dreams’ patented devices that altered their senses — glasses impairing eyesight, gloves limiting dexterity, and headphones playing white noise — while they tried to complete common everyday tasks and exercises like putting on a belt, setting the table or pouring a glass of water.
“I like the interactiveness of this tour,” said Kelli Beckler, director of social services at the Wayne County Care Center. “I like to have people think about how tiring it would be to live like that and how as the day goes on, how tiring it can be.”
After the tour, participants received a checklist of the observations made by a facilitator of how they acted while attempting to complete the tasks then explaining why a dementia patient might act in that manner.
They also received a list of suggestions for caring for dementia patients including give ample time for tasks; cut down on noise and distraction; allow them to do the same thing over and over, because it makes them feel safe; stay positive about all the good things they can do and all the good times you will have through this journey together; and take care of yourself.
“A lot of times, those who have taken the tour in the past, we’ll run into them and they’ll say, ‘This has helped us explain the process to family members for people who have Alzheimer’s disease,”’ said Steve Rondinella, VDTF, provider relations at Crossroads Hospice.
The tour benefitted many families whose loved ones are living with dementia at the care center.
“It made us more aware of what [our mother] is going through,” said Mike Boreman, whose brother Bob realized through the tour that he needed to not ask his mother so many questions at one time.
Mike’s wife Sue wished she had gone through a similar simulation when her mother was alive and dealing with some of the same symptoms.
“It makes you very confused,” Sue said of the tour. “It was very challenging. You had to just do one task at a time.”
Crossroad Hospice & Palliative Care is available to administer the Virtual Dementia Tour for any community groups. Rondinella is available at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-899-9100.