Virtual tour helps caregivers, family members 'experience' dementia

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by Karen Grace / KENS 5

khou.com

Posted on September 19, 2013 at 3:45 PM

SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- Brushing your teeth or tying your shoes may be the simplest, everyday tasks, but they can seem impossible for someone with dementia.

But a virtual exercise is not only showing people what it's like, it's making people more compassionate.

KENS 5's Karen Grace actually took the tour and experienced what it was like.

Painful inserts were placed in her shoes, her fingers were bound and taped in gloves, earphones echoed sirens and strange noises and goggles partially blinded her vision.

The exercises are designed to open a person's eyes to the chaotic reality of dementia.

Around 70 percent of cases are related to Alzheimer's, a biological disease that attacks the brain tissue from the inside out.

The virtual dementia exercises is helping people like Jo Lessner understand what her mother went through. Her mother passed away on Friday and she often was her caregiver.

"It was so frustrating not to be able to do it," said Lessner of the virtual tour.

Her heart was heavy as it hit her.

"I realize she was in so much more torture than I realized," she said. "I thought I really understood what my mom was going through, but I didn't," she said.

She now empathizes for all the 340,000 Texans diagnosed.

Sharon Jackson also participate in the virtual tour. Her mother currently has dementia.

"It's scary for me to think that my mother does feel that," said Jackson.

The tour only takes three minutes and participants felt it was astonishing to think that people with dementia never get a break.

"For a family to go through this, it does make a difference," said Lessner.

September 21st is World Alzheimer's Day. A fund raising walk to support families and research will be held. To participate click here.

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