Virtual Dementia Tour (VDT) - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Virtual Dementia Tour (VDT)

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Chagrin Falls, OH -

More than five million Americans are living with dementia, and as more Baby Boomers hit their Golden Years, the pressure is on caregivers, with FEWER geriatric specialists.

In Chagrin Falls, at Arden Court Memory Care, they use a patented product called the Virtual Dementia Tour.  
It all starts with some directions....April Suva, the outreach coordinator here at Arden Courts is tasked with taking me through the tour...
"So what we are going to attempt to do today is show you what it's like to have dementia."  
First, inserts in my shoes act like arthritis pain.  Next, gloves which simulate neuropathy and loss of touch, goggles --- to simulate macular degeneration and aging vision.
Then, the headphones.  What you hear is a bit like radio static, with faint voices and sounds periodically, sirens, a phone ringing...
I'm led to a room and given FIVE tasks I must COMPLETE.  
Entering the room, I'm already confused.
I recall I must set the table...
I count out 17 cents and put it in the change purse, which proves challenging with my gloves.
Then ---- I blank.  I look at the list of tasks on the wall, but  it's garbled. 
I was anxious...
"Something about the clock....I don't know what I'm supposed to do with it, I can't remember."
The flashlight was the most frustrating....I could get the batteries in, but wasn't sure if they were in right, and I couldn't get the flashlight to turn on.
Doing laundry isn't a task, but I do it anyway -- April says - much like a dementia patient, I do what I know how to do.
When my ten minutes is up, April taps me on the shoulder - AND I'm relieved it's over.
April and Executive Director Elizabeth Schupp ask me how i felt.
"It made me think....living like that every day, it's hard....cause I knew it was going to be over."  
It's exactly what the tour was created for.  
"You know they go home and make a few changes and hopefully it makes the love and the change and relationship with the one that has dementia that much better." 
"Be patient, take a moment and walk in their shoes --- think about what they're going through."  
Even if it's only for ten minutes....it's an experience you'll never forget.
"They might not remember you; they may not remember certain things, but they're still there."
 

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