The tragedy of forgetting: Experiencing dementia

Published 7:00 am Saturday, October 11, 2014

This week we attended the Virtual Dementia Tour at Highland Community Hospital and experienced first hand what life is like for a dementia patient.
It was an eye-opening experience and one that all caregivers and family members should undertake.
Participants were required to put on garb that altered vision, hearing and operation of the hands and feet.
They were then led into a room and given a list of normal every day activities complete including folding towels, writing a letter and setting a dinner table.
Our experience found the activities to be a confusing and frustrating experience.
Ordinary tasks that usually take little to no time to complete became very difficult, creating frustration and anger. Participants even had trouble remembering the to-do list, as it was told to them while they had earphones on that played a confusing soundtrack.
The soundtrack featured the sudden slamming of doors, sirens and voices.
Dementia is a heartbreaking disease, not only for the patient but also for family members and caregivers.
Many caregivers are unsure of how to care for and manage a dementia patient’s sudden mood swings, confusion and physical limitations.
Many of the participants said that they learned to be more compassionate and understanding of their patients because of this experience.
We at the Item salute Highland Community Hospital and the Mississippi Department of Mental Health for staging this event in Picayune.
There are times when we need to walk in another person’s shoes to truly understand their needs.
Melora Jackson with the Department of Mental Health referred to a quote that sums up the experience of the dementia tour.
“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” Maya Angelou.
If caregivers or family members of dementia patients ever get the chance to participate in this tour, do so, it will change one’s perception of how to care for their patient.

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