Simulation offers health care workers chance to experience dementia symptoms first handSubmitted: 04/15/2015
Story By Ben Meyer

Simulation offers health care workers chance to experience dementia symptoms first hand
CRANDON - To an outside observer, people with dementia can seem confused, disoriented, or slow.

But what does it really feel like to live with dementia?

While wearing futuristic-looking sunglasses, headphones and clunky gloves, health care workers and loved ones of people with dementia participated in a simulation of dementia symptoms on Wednesday in Crandon.

"During the next ten minutes, we will attempt to give you a sense of what dementia might be like," said Paula Gibson, the Director of Community and Business Relations at Azura Memory Care.

"What does it feel like? What does it sound like? What does it look like?" asked Gibson, preparing the participants to think about these questions as they entered the simulation.

Azura Memory Care, along with the Forest County Potawatomi Community, offered the virtual dementia tour. Participants stumbled around inside a hotel room, struggling to complete simple tasks.

Their vision was impaired by the glasses. White noise, garbled conversations, and static were pumped in through their headphones.

"When I got in there, from the minute it started, I was completely confused and disoriented," said Linda Dobbratz, the Activity Director at Nu-Roc Community Healthcare, a nursing home in Laona.

Three certified nursing assistants from AGI Healthcare, a Crandon nursing home, also experienced the simulation.

Melissa Denton, Shania Simonis, and Josie Bocek found the exercise difficult.

"You can't see anything when you're in that room, at all," Simonis said.

Bocek struggled to concentrate on tasks such as folding clothes, pouring a glass of water, and setting a table while odd noises were coming through her headphones.

"The worst part, I think for me, was the sounds, because it just sounds like somebody rambling," she said.

"There's sirens, which scared the bejesus out of me," Simonis said.

Loud sirens were also periodically routed through participants' headphones.

"There are a lot more sounds that people with memory loss hear than what we typically hear," Gibson said. "People that you know and love have been going through this every day for years and years and years."

For caregivers and loved ones of those with dementia, the simulation was a valuable learning experience.

"Sometimes dealing with the residents with dementia, you get very frustrated. The reason you're frustrated is because they're frustrated," Bocek said.

"I could see myself doing the things that I see our residents doing, and totally understanding why they're doing that," agreed Dobbratz.

About 120,000 people in Wisconsin live with some form of dementia.

Text Size: + Increase | Decrease -
| Print Story | Email Story
Sponsored in part by HodagSports.com


Play Video

NEWBOLD - Parts of the Northwoods have seen more than blank feet of snow this season. First responders want to make sure that snow doesn't create a public safety concern.

The fluorescent 'fire signs' outside many Northwoods homes help firefighters and other first responders find your home quickly when there's an emergency.

Newbold Fire Chief Mark Fetzer said it's important to keep them clear of snow.

"If we can't see them, neither can whoever is removing the snow from your driveway," said Fetzer. "They may plow it right over, then you won't have a sign there at all."

+ Read More

Play Video

ONEIDA COUNTY - It takes a lot of work to maintain over 30 miles of silent sports trails in Oneida County.

+ Read More

ROTHSCHILD - Candidates in Wisconsin's 7th congressional district race are taking their message directly to voters with less than one month until the primary election in February. 

+ Read More

NORTH & CENTRAL WISCONSIN - Time Federal Savings Bank will soon be known as Prevail Bank per a media release.

Last year, Time Federal acquired the Wisconsin Rapids, Stevens Point and Baraboo branches of River Cities Bank through a merger.

Starting Feb. 24, all nine bank branches including those in Medford, Eau Claire, Marshfield, Owen, Phillips and Wausau will transition to the new name.

+ Read More

Play Video

RHINELANDER - Taking a selfie to post on social media is usually seen as a harmless act.

+ Read More

FOREST COUNTY - Four individuals will face drug passion and drug trafficking chargers following a law enforcement operation in Forest Co. earlier this month. 

+ Read More

MILWAUKEE - The Milwaukee Brewers home ballpark will have a new name next year after a 20-year deal with Miller comes to an end.

American Family Insurance announced Tuesday evening that Miller Park will become American Family Field next Jan. 1. A new logo and other branding elements will be revealed later.

+ Read More
+ More General News