Imagine a slow, steady prickly sensation at the bottoms of your feet. You lift your head to observe your surroundings, only your vision is dark and blurry around the edges. You feel as though you’re looking through small slits, and when your caregiver tries to speak, the words are jumbled and the voice is inaudible. You both try to understand each other, to communicate, to connect, but there are so many obstacles…
While an estimated 5.4 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease, in 2015, more than 15 million caregivers provided an estimated 18.1 billion hours of unpaid care. On top of that, nearly 60 percent of Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers rated the emotional stress of caregiving as high or very high.
This stress could in part stem from a lack of understanding for what a loved one affected by Alzheimer’s disease or dementia regularly experiences.
The Virtual Dementia Tour®, created by P.K. Beville, founder of Second Wind Dreams, aims to build sensitivity and awareness in individuals and caregivers – helping them better understand and empathize with those living with Alzheimer’s and dementia.
The patented program simulates changes associated with cognitive decline by taking participants through a virtual dementia tour. It has been experienced by more than 1.5 million people in 17 countries and has been implemented in over one thousand health care facilities in the United States, Canada, UK, Israel and other countries around the world.
By using ordinary objects, such as dark goggles to reduce vision, or thick gloves to decrease grip and sensitivity, to mimic the disease, participants can feel what it is like to perform everyday tasks while tethered by certain physical and mental restrictions. This can allow participants to better sympathize with those affected by Alzheimer’s and dementia.
The VDT also helps caregivers comprehend why a loved one might be acting a certain way. Signs of frustration might not be caused by apathy or stubbornness, but instead by pain or confusion they are unable to express. This helps many caregivers realize there might be a deeper-rooted cause for Alzheimer’s or dementia behavior, which increases their ability to help those affected.
The Kenwood by Senior Star trains each and every staff member with the VDT to ensure they are fully equipped to assist residents coping with the disease. Not only does it improve each individual’s understanding of dementia behaviors, but it also helps bridge our caregiver-care recipient divide in order to become better caregivers.
This month, The Kenwood is proud to team up with Second Wind Dreams to bring a mobile version of the VDT to Cincinnati, in the hopes that many people – especially caregivers and family members of those with Alzheimer’s or dementia – experience the tour to better understand and empathize with those affected by the disease.
If you’re interested in experiencing a VDT for yourself, please email Shelley Goering or call 513-823-3029.
Want to learn more about our programs? Call 513-258-2815, come visit us, or request a brochure.