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Dementia affects more than 50 million people worldwide. The Virtual Dementia Tour is designed to allow participants to experience what dementia patients see, hear and feel so they better understand and empathize with individuals who have dementia. One website with the UNC Greensboro reports: “The simulation temporarily alters your physical and sensory abilities to replicate the physical, mental, and emotional challenges that those living with dementia may experience on a daily basis.” An article published in 2020 indicated that “participating in VDT may be an effective method for enhancing empathy and caring during nursing student education.” See Impact of Virtual Dementia Tour on empathy level of nursing students: A quasi-experimental study, Int J Nurs Sci. 2020 Jul 10; 7(3): 258–261.

One testimonial on Second Wind Dreams indiciated that a participants mother spent 12 years with demential but it wasn’t until the daughter spent 8 minutes taking the tour that she understood how her mom felt. In a Q&A session, one participant said “Dementia is scary to experience, so I think it’s so valuable anytime we can have just a taste of how disorienting, frightening and confusing it can be.” You can watch a video descrbing the tour by clicking here.

The immersive dementia experience is 8 minutes long, followed by a 75 minute comprehensive Training session gives you a full debrief of what was happening in your brain during the Tour. A UGA webpage states: “The Inclusive Virtual Dementia Tour (VDT)® was designed with three main initiatives: (1) provide the opportunity to experience what life with dementia is like with standard care; (2) experience what life with dementia is like in a person-centered care environment; (3) compare the difference between standard and person-centered care with the intention of developing strategies of improved care based on personal experience.”

One issue associated with this tour seems to be a presumption that someone with dementia is already experiencing full blown symptoms. Keep in mind that legal capacity is a continuum and each person progresses at his or her own rate. One podcast guest stated it be: “If you’ve seen one person with dementia, you’ve only seen that one person. There are so many different variables and all these situations.” (See Lance Slaton in The Caregiving Podcaster: Broadcasting Resources from His Unique Vantage Point). As we discussed elsewhere, the capacity continuum is evaluated using four factors: understanding, appreciation, reasoning and choice. Each case is unique and requires a personal approach.

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