Herzing University-Kenosha nursing student Rebecca Jones participated in the Dementia Live event at the Westosha Senior Community Center in Bristol, Wisconsin in November. The event was sponsored by Kenosha Area Family and Aging Services Inc. and was designed to provide participants with first-hand knowledge of what it is like to live with dementia, with the goal of elevating care for dementia patients.
Participants were given gloves to reduce the sense of touch and wore dark glasses to re-create the experience of living with cataracts or glaucoma. They also wore headphones that distorted sounds and made hearing more difficult.
Jones and the other participants then entered an “Experience Room” where they were asked to complete simple, everyday tasks, such as feeding the dog, buttoning two buttons or taking a pill out of a pill box. Instructions were difficult to understand and tasks were made more difficult by the sensory-altering gear.
“It was frustrating and confusing,” Jones told the Kenosha News. “What should have been a simple task was hard.”
Other participants reported feeling disoriented, frustrated and panicked that they could not complete the tasks correctly or within the time allotted.
After the event, attendees received tips for working with and communicating with dementia patients, such as speaking calmly and using short, simple sentences.