If you care for or know someone living with memory impairment, be it Alzheimer's or another form of dementia, you know that it is a condition that is hard to understand. Although we may never fully comprehend what it truly feels like for the individual, there are many ways to learn compassion and how to care for the memory affected loved one in your life. This is a task that the Alzheimer's Foundation of America have taken on through their Care Connection Sunset Series, a program which involves briefly immersing its participants in a virtual reality world where you experience symptoms like blurred vision, hallucinations, and disorientation.
"The goal of this empathy-building workshop is to impart to care partners the importance of patience and understanding when working with individuals who are living with Alzheimer’s and to further inform on more targeted communications practices.
"AFA Director of Educational and Social Services and workshop leader, Molly Fogel, LCSW (left), who lent her expertise to the Greener Media team—the developers of the virtual reality tool—said, 'With the inclusion of this virtual reality platform at the workshop, our intention is to provide just a snapshot of what those living with dementia may encounter and for participants to briefly experience what it’s like to step inside their shoes—including the visual and spatial disconnect individuals may experience—as well as other sensory impairments.” (Read more here: https://bit.ly/2RNRrev)
Naturally, we were thrilled when our very own True Memory Care Director, Grace, was invited to test out this innovative, interactive, and educational tool.
"I really enjoyed trying out AFA's new virtual reality experience! It helps you see through the eyes of someone who has memory loss," she stated after her participation.
With Molly's guidance we became Harry, an elderly man living with Alzheimer's, and for a little over three minutes we got to be a part of Harry's morning routine. Coming out of the experience with a sense of empathy for Harry was both jarring and uneasy. You can't help but think what it must feel like to live this experience every day and not be able to take off those goggles.
Our participation in this trial was documented by Nicole Vowell and aired on West Palm Beach's WPTV in December.
You can check out their coverage on the topic here:
Many thanks to Molly Fogel and the Alzheimer's Foundation of America for the opportunity to experience this technology firsthand.