Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Understanding Dementia

Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Understanding Dementia

You visit the Smithsonian to take a simulated ride in a space shuttle, why not try your hand at living with Alzheimer’s Disease?

Silverado, Alexandria’s new memory care community which opened last July, is offering Alexandria more than just care and beds for 66 for residents with memory impairment. Silverado is reaching out to friends and neighbors with a new program to help us understand what dementia “feels like.”

Recently, I took the Virtual Dementia Tour that Silverado is now offering. Donning special goggles, earphones, heavy gloves, and insoles in my shoes that simulate neuropathy, I was put in a darkened room and given instructions to complete five simple tasks. With programmed noise and confusion in my ears, and my eyesight and dexterity significantly impeded, I was able to remember and attempt only three tasks. I completed one.

The post-tour discussion with staff gave participants a chance to voice frustration at not being able to do what under normal circumstances would have been easy assignments (like putting on a big white shirt or filling a dog food dish). The conversation is designed to encourage a new understanding of those for whom these distractions are constant. We who live in an able-bodied world have little idea of the road blocks others face. This tour is a good reminder.

The tours are free and by appointment. Call the Office of the Family Ambassador, 703-215-9110. Silverado is located at 2807 King St.

Welcome to Alexandria, Silverado. You are already making this a better place to live.

Kitty Porterfield