One of the main questions I've been asked is what did the Virtual Dementia Tour by Second Wind Dreams actually teach me.
It's meant to demonstrate the various effects that many older adults, and especially those with dementia, may experience. But everyone is different and not everyone deals with the same health issues.
What it taught me was to always approach a person with dementia from the front to allow them to see you coming. Use clear visual cues to help them perform tasks and keep things in the same place.
People with Alzheimer's often have a higher rate of hearing loss than their peers. Cutting down on noise may help avoid confusion. Caregivers should speak slowly, repeat instructions and ask the person if they understand. It's also important to stick to one task at a time and allow them time to process the information.
Neuropathy can be caused by a variety of medical issues and it makes it difficult to walk or move quickly and many people with dementia are unsteady on their feet. It's important for caregivers to understand the risk of falls.
Many strange behaviors, such as talking to themselves, shadowing, repetitive behavior can be coping mechanisms. Allow this to continue if it brings them comfort.
While it's impossible to know what a person with dementia actually experiences, this exercise did give me guidance on how to be a better caregiver in just ten minutes.
Most importantly the simulation taught me patience, understanding and empathy.