3 On Your Side: Virtual Dementia Tour

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Stephanie Stahl, CBS 3 and The CW Philly 57’s Emmy Award-win...
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By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Millions of Americans are struggling to care for people with Alzheimer’s disease.

It’s hard to imagine what it’s like to have the mind robbing ailment, but now you can, at least virtually. 3 On Your Side Health Reporter Stephanie Stahl shows you how.

Sights and sounds are altered to create confusion and distort reality in the virtual dementia tour. People can briefly feel what it’s like to have Alzheimer’s. Participants walk through the shoes of someone with dementia.

In addition to earphones and goggles, people taking the tour also wear painful shoe inserts to mimic the neuropathy and imbalance that often comes with dementia, and gloves that hinder the sense of touch and ability to do things, like pour a glass of water.

Jo Lessner says she now has a better feeling for what her mother went through.

“I realize she was in so much more torture than I realized. I thought I really understood what Mom was going through, but I didn’t,” said Jo.

The virtual tour is an interactive learning experience designed to help those caring for Alzheimer’s patients, so they can feel what it’s like to be impaired.

“I made it. It’s scary for me to think that my mother does feel that,” said Sharon Jackson, whose mother has dementia. The tour was an emotional eye opener for her.

“I think it would be amazing for family to go through this,” said Sharon.

There is a similar in-home family version of the Dementia Virtual Tour that includes all the equipment and self-guided instructional CDs. It costs $100.

For more info on the Virtual Dementia Tour, visit: www.secondwind.org/virtual-dementia-tour

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