"Virtual Tour": What it's like to have Dementia - WNCT

"Virtual Tour": What it's like to have Dementia

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GREENVILLE, N.C. -

More than 5 million Americans have Alzheimer's Disease. By 2050 the National Institute on Aging says that number could triple.

Dementia touches all of us at some point in our lives in different ways.

Vidant Bertie Hospital is offering a way for loved ones and caregivers to actually experience what Dementia is like.

Our Kristen Hunter gave it a shot today.

Imagine what life would be like if all your senses were altered. It's a concept Behavioral Health specialists are using to simulate what people go through when they have dementia.

"If information cannot be taken into the brain then obviously it cannot be processed," said Cindy Thomas, Behavioral program director at Vidant Bertie Hospital.

Once our Kristen Hunter was "suited up" they took her into a dark room and gave her five tasks: things like folding towels, setting a table, and putting on a sweater. She had 8 minutes to complete it all and wasn't allowed to ask questions. Sounds pretty simple right? Kristen started out strong, but by the end of the simulation she says she was so confused all she could do was sit at a table.

"You really have a feel for what they're going through. Just the simplest tasks are difficult," Hunter said.

Rodney Delaney took the tour to help him better understand his patients.

"I thought the fact that I heard those three tasks, three directions was pretty easy. But tying the tie when I had two fingers tied together became quite frustrating. I thought it was funny at first but it became quite frustrating," said Delaney, who is a Nurse Manager for Behavioral Health services.

Others wanted to be able to relate to their family.

"It seemed a lot easier working with people versus actually having a family member that had it," said Latonya Ebron.

"One of my team here, when she first went through it, she was watching herself on the video and she said 'oh my that was my mother.' And I said ‘well what were you feeling at the moment?' and she said ‘I was feeling scared and overwhelmed and I was afraid I was going to make a mistake and I felt stupid...and I thought she was just content'," said Thomas.

A true eye-opener for anyone dealing with the disease.

The Behavioral Health Department at Vidant Bertie Hospital hosts the "Virtual Dementia Tour" for groups.

For more information call the Behavioral Health Department at Bertie Vidant Hospital: https://www.vidanthealth.com/vidant/ServicesDetail.aspx?id=301

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