Group hosts virtual dementia tour

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - The Schmieding Home Caregiving Training Center in Jonesboro opened their doors to the public for a series of very special tours.

From noon to four, staff invited people to experience what it's like for a person suffering from Alzheimer's or Dementia.

Linda Willey, the RN Coordinator for the Schmieding Home Caregiving Center, says they hope people will walk away from this with a new perspective.

"The purpose of this is to make people aware of what a person with Dementia or Alzheimer's goes through. From their mental aspect of their physical aspect."

Once an individual signed in, a pair of goggles were put over their eyes to impair their vision.

Next, a pair of latex gloves with popcorn filling the ends, were placed over the person's hands.  Willey says often someone suffering from Alzheimer's or Dementia has trouble distinguishing what they are feeling.

Last, they placed an MP3 player in the person's ears.  Someone with Alzheimer or Dementia has trouble distinguishing what they're hearing.  Sounds are muffled and resemble white noise.

With the senses impaired, the volunteer is asked to perform a series of tasks to see first hand just how hard daily life can be.

"Care givers get frustrated.  They don't understand. They think they're just doing this. maybe they're made at the care giver. . .and it has nothing to do with that. So, a lot of times this will cut down on the abuse. And we call abuse yelling and screaming at somebody and if you find the daughter yelling and screaming at the mother, if she knows how she feels it'll cut this down."

Ken Sadeler of Jonesboro went through the tour because his mother in law, who is suffering from Alzheimer's, recently moved in with he and his wife.

"My wife found out about this and just wanted to see, a little taste of what she was going through."

After going through the tour, Sadeler's opinion of what his mother in law goes through changed drastically.

"I'm very surprised. I didn't realize it had this big of an effect. Most people think it's your memory and you get confused, but it's not just that. It's every sense that you have.  It's tough. If you haven't done this you ought to give it a try. You can see how confusing. . .It effects all your senses. Your sight is diminished, your touch, reactions, everything. And you can see why it would be such pressure. Just to go through your daily life with Alzheimer's or Dementia."

Sadeler now says people need to be tolerant and patient with those suffering from one of these diseases.

For more information, you can call Center on Aging at 336-5088 or log onto their website.

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