According to the Alzheimer’s Association, over 5 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Despite the prevalence of the disease, it’s still a challenge for many people to understand what it’s like to live with Alzheimer’s disease.
Crossroads Hospice hopes to help people understand the struggles of dementia patients by partnering with P.K. Beville, the creator of the Virtual Dementia Tour®.
This tour simulates the obstacles dementia patients face every day, so that the tour participant will get the chance to see and feel what a dementia patient may feel.
During a Virtual Dementia Tour® experience, participants meet with certified trainers who guide them through the Tour and outfit them with patented eyewear that distorts their vision, audio equipment that alters their hearing and devices that alter the sense of touch in the hand and foot.
Once suited up, the participant is given a set of seemingly simple tasks to accomplish and sent into a bedroom. Even though it’s only a simulation, frustration mounts quickly. “Some participants speak loudly. They curse. They wring their hands. I’ve even see chaplains throw things,” says Crossroads RN Karen Trostle.
When asked to describe the experience, participants say they feel helpless, and note how hard it was to understand and remember multiple instructions. They finally have insight into what dementia patients and family members experience every day.
P.K. Belville shares that a patient is diagnosed with dementia every 59 seconds, and there’s no cure. “3 out of 5 people experience dementia in friends or family. We need to deal with the disease head on, right now. If we walk in their shoes, we’ll know better how to manage it.”
Our entire Crossroads Hospice team in Atlanta is currently going through the Virtual Dementia Tour training. Once trained, we will begin offering it in the community. “The Virtual Dementia Tour® makes us more aware and better providers for these sweet people who have lost their voice to dementia,” Trostle says.