St. John’s Dementia Experience offers a way to momentarily step into the shoes of someone living with Alzheimer’s disease. Using Virtual Reality (VR) technology and an Oculus Go headset that provides a three-dimensional, 360-degree view with sound, participants enter the world of “Harry,” who is living with Alzheimer’s, to see how he experiences a variety of common symptoms associated with the disease.
Take a moment and put yourself in the shoes of someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s as they are bombarded by a confusing array of sights and sounds. It’s a perspective that we, as caregivers, can only imagine. But a new tool is turning imagination into reality. Well, virtual reality.
At St. John’s, we’re providing a new technology where you can actually experience what everyday life is like for your loved one living with dementia or Alzheimer’s. Using Virtual Reality (VR) technology and an Oculus Go headset, you will be fully immersed into a three-dimensional experience with a 360-degree view, complete with sounds.
This encounter allows you to truly experience the world from the perspective of a person living with Alzheimer’s, seeing, hearing, and feeling many of the symptoms associated with the disease.
Common Struggles for Someone with Dementia
Something as simple as going to the grocery store can feel like a Herculean task. It requires strategic planning, concentration, navigation, and decision making, which gets exponentially more difficult when you have dementia.
Creating or reading the shopping list is hard. Changes in food preference or eating habits throw things off. Navigating the supermarket is confusing, especially if they change things around. And the anxiety that comes when you can’t remember how to work the card machine at the checkout is frightening.
Just leaving the house can feel overwhelming. Noisy crowds and busy streets can turn a neighborhood you’ve lived in for years into an overwhelming and unfamiliar place. You get lost and have no idea where you are or how you ended up there.
Your mind plays tricks on you. Is that a puddle on the ground or a hole? Is the floor wet or just shiny? You can’t tell how fast that car is going, so you don’t know if it’s safe to cross the street or not. And when you don’t recognize someone that you feel like you’re supposed to know, it can be devastating.
Even at home, where everything is familiar, there can be challenges. Hand-eye coordination means you may put things in the wrong place or turn a knob on the stove the wrong way, which can lead to dangerous situations. Tasks with multiple steps, like making a simple cup of coffee, become confusing, frustrating, and hard to manage.
Dementia is a complex disease, and each person’s experience is unique to them. At St. John’s we can’t tell every story, but we hope that this new VR experience will help you better understand your loved one and what they are going through.
The Dementia Experience at St. John’s Community Care
This unique VR app with special goggles is a training experience that brings the symptoms of dementia to life for caregivers. It helps you understand what your loved one is experiencing – and how alienating and frightening that can be. St. John’s Community Care Dementia Experience can help care partners and families better understand what someone living with this disease may be going through. This is an experience, not a simulation. Each individual living with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias experiences their symptoms uniquely. What we create with this experience is an opportunity to educate and build empathy and understanding. We do not recommend this experience for individuals with dementia, individuals with seizure disorders, or individuals who have difficulty with 3D images. If you would like more information or to book an appointment for an experience, call 618-344-5008.
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