Enter Alzheimer’s World with the Virtual Dementia Tour

By Nancy LaFever / Posted on 20 June 2013

Virtual Dementia Tour

We’re fortunate to live in a technological age with brilliant minds dedicated to creating tools that address complex societal issues and offer hope to those facing overwhelming, life-altering health concerns. In a recent post, Seniorhousingnews.com reported on an amazing tech tool that’s being used at Senior Star at Weber Place in Illinois, one of the largest memory care facilities in the state. Senior Star at Weber uses the Virtual Dementia Tour (VDT), an educational program which allows users to enter the world of Alzheimer’s patients and is now taking the VDT into the community to help the public.

Created and developed by geriatric specialist P.K. Beville, the VDT is a simulator that mimics many of the sensory and cognitive deficits seniors with Alzheimer’s experience. A set of tasks are given that must be completed with the VDT simulating hearing loss, central and peripheral vision loss and decreased sensory nerves and fine motor skills. The program experience lasts 15 minutes. Behaviors that result – wandering, not being able to follow directions and frustration are typical dementia responses.

The training and virtual experience users undergo in the VDT results in better understanding and insight for caregivers, family members, medical providers and others in the Alzheimer’s patients’ lives, enabling them to better assist and be empathetic. Although the realities of what those with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia truly experience obviously can’t be replicated, the VDT gives us a glimpse of that world. To further imitate the patients’ world, the VDT creates the experience in a home-like setting.

Virtual Dementia Tour Led by Experts
The article explains that people leading the VDT have undergone extensive training and must have Virtual Dementia Tour certification to conduct the program. Anna Walters, director of memory care at Senior Star at Weber, is administering the tour and taking it into the community. In addition to having participants do the VDT experience, Walters follows with a question and answer segment on better coping and tips on care for those living with dementia.


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