“A Window Into Their World” – MediLodge of Howell Virtual Dementia Tour


Imagine yourself in a carnival funhouse. You step inside and the lights go dim. You can barely see what in front of you so you reach out your arms to feel your way along the walls, but this is no use. Now imagine this is what your everyday life is like.

The Virtual Dementia Tour is a hands-on, experiential training created for anyone seeking to understand the physical and mental challenges of those living with Alzheimer’s and dementia. This training gives you a form of dementia and allows you to experience what it is like to exist with the disease. This is a commutation tool. A tool designed to let you feel and understand what our residents might be feeling at any point in time. As such, it is designed to help you improve communication by giving you the experience of dementia. This training gives you a window into the world of dementia.

“I don’t think we appreciate how hard a simple task can be for our residents to complete” –CNA, MediLodge of Howell

During the training, you become completely disoriented and disconcerted. Your brain just won’t do what you want it to do. Imagine that. To better understand the residents we care for we need to understand what they see, feel and hear. The training starts by being outfitted with devices that simulate certain aspects of dementia along with physical impairments many of us experience as we age. Once geared up trainees are given tasks to perform in about 5 minutes, all sound simple and are similar to what our residents might need to do in their daily lives. Trainees soon find out these “simple tasks” are not so simple. Most trainees were unable to complete just 1 of the 3 tasks they were directed to.

This training is being used to alter perspectives and change the way our employees approach caregiving. After staff gain a better understanding of expected dementia behaviors we can expect to see a reduction in the use of psychoactive medication.

Beans inserted in shoes to represent neuropathy and arthritis of the feet
Gardening gloves worn to give the experience of loss of fine motor skills
Goggles simulate macular degeneration and loss of peripheral vision
Ear plugs, loud music and radio static restricts and distorts hearing

The tour has also been lauded as the game-changer in helping understand what person-centered care actually entails. The bottom line is that resident quality of life will improve and caregivers will benefit from a reduction in the number of challenging situations and an increased connection to those they serve by stepping into the shoes of our residents living with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

“The way I interact with residents is forever changed because of these 5 minutes” –CNA, MediLodge of Howell

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