“That was touching!” “I had no idea!” “My emotions were everywhere!” These were just a few of the comments made by participants at Benton Village of Stockbridge, GA this week during the Halcyon Hospice-sponsored Virtual Dementia Tour (VDT). Family members, caregivers, Assisted Living Facility staff and other members of the Henry County community experienced firsthand what it’s like to walk in the shoes of someone with Dementia.
The Virtual Dementia Tour (VDT) is a hands-on, experiential workshop created for anyone looking to gain a better understanding of the physical and mental challenges of those with Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementias. Participants are given sensory altering equipment that mimic the effects of macular degeneration, glaucoma, neuropathy and hearing loss and are taken to a room where they’re asked to complete a variety of seemingly simple tasks in a given time period.
Kimberly Lee, a bubbly and energetic Certified Nursing Assistant at Benton Village, encouraged her colleagues to go through the tour before she took her turn, “Go ahead! Don’t be nervous…” she told them. Yet, as she garbed up to enter the room her anxiety level rose, “I started off neutral and then as I walked down the hallway to the room my adrenaline started pumping.”
Lee felt she came out of the room a changed person. “I always try to do my best at providing excellent care to my patients. Even after 15 years of experience in working with patients living with Dementia, I now realize I had no idea what my patients experience on a daily basis. I’ve learned to have more empathy, be more patient, and not to expect my patients to do multiple tasks but rather one thing at a time at their own pace.
Lee stated, “Walking out of the room my emotions were everywhere! The VDT was a life-changing experience. This program will assist our facility in enhancing our level of care.”
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia – the loss of intellectual function, among people aged 65 or older. There are approximately 35 million Americans age 65 and older and more than 5.4 million suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. Symptoms affect not only cognitive functioning but also psychological functioning.
Halcyon Hospice will continue to offer the Virtual Dementia Tour at facilities throughout the state of Georgia. For more information visit Second Wind Dreams website or contact Tami Dedels, Halcyon Hospice Volunteer Coordinator at 678-328-1700 or toll free 855-328-1700.