How would we cope if we lived with dementia? How can we help those who do? Although Birtley does not specialise in dementia, it is likely that many of us will develop the disease as we get older, or will know someone who does. So, Karen arranged for the Virtual Dementia Tour to visit Birtley. This simulated training experience is the only scientifically and medically proven method of giving a person with a healthy brain an experience of what dementia might be like; approximating to mid-range Alzheimer's.
During the simulation we felt disoriented, isolated, vulnerable, unable to complete even simple tasks and utterly exhausted. At times, the extensive debrief session was absolutely hilarious as we listened to feedback on our individual actions and reactions. Of course, the reality of dementia is far from funny and the experience has helped us to begin to understand and empathise with the day-to-day experiences of people living with dementia. What will make them feel more comfortable, what will help them maintain dignity and what will help them to make sense of the confusing world around them. By making some simple adjustments to the way we give care, we can start to improve the lives of people living with dementia. We will do precisely that.