Elder law attorneys, Amy Eddy and Katherine Young, recently participated in an interactive Virtual Dementia Tour where they had the opportunity to learn more about the day-to-day challenges of living with dementia. The program is designed to provide participants with a better understanding of the disease, including some of the mental and physical limitations, as well as change the perception that dementia only involves memory loss.
Participants were given a set of accessories to wear – gloves, goggles, and headphones – to mimic the conditions of living with dementia. They were then asked to perform five common daily tasks in 12 minutes or less. These tasks included setting the table, folding clothes, putting away dishes, and buttoning shirts. As they quickly discovered, the tasks were incredibly difficult to complete in the time allotted, if at all. As Amy commented, “Twelve minutes felt like an eternity. I can’t imagine existing like this day after day. I couldn’t remember the simplest of tasks, and performing them was nearly impossible.”
Ultimately, the exercise was designed to change participants’ expectations of what someone with dementia can and cannot do, and to become better advocates for them knowing their physical and cognitive limitations. The exercise had a profound affect on both Amy and Katie. “Everyone who works with someone with dementia should experience this tour – it will completely change your perception,” said Amy at the conclusion of the exercise.