Dementia tour raises awareness

Nursing students host tour that allows others to feel what patients feel

Understanding the challenges of those who have dementia was the goal for the Del Mar College Continuing Education Nursing Assistant students who held a Virtual Dementia Tour open to the public on Feb. 24 at the Harvin Student Center.

Nursing program students prepare to present a dementia tour to allow participants insight on the feelings of having dementia.

According to Continuing Education Health Care Instructor Kathryn Garcia, the tour teaches the Continuing Education Nursing Assistant students to be more patient and understanding while working with dementia patients.

“When I tried this tour out I figured it would be easy. But with the dim lights and sunglasses your vision becomes distorted, all the loud noises through the headphones are all you hear, and you can’t pick up anything to complete the tasks because of the gloves,” Garcia said.

Program manager Liana Joslin said the tour lasts six minutes. Patients are asked to wear thick gloves, insoles for their shoes, sunglasses and headphones playing outdoor noises such as knocking, sirens, gunshots and people’s conversations. 

Continuing Education Nursing Assistant students and others take part in the tour, which allows people to feel the same effects those with dementia.

“During the tour patients are asked to complete a few simple tasks like counting change, fixing the table, hanging a shirt, setting a clock, and opening a pill bottle,” Joslin said.

Although all these tasks seem simple, under the circumstances during the Virtual Dementia Tour patients are put under, they seem almost impossible to achieve.

According to Joslin, many people have a hard time starting the tour because they can barely hear the instructions of the tasks they need to complete, causing the patients to wander around the room, mumbling, having negative statements and repetitive behaviors.

During the tour this was caused by feeling alone.

“Many of the people who come in to try the tour experience those things, but it is normal for them to, because this is what people with dementia experience and this is how they feel,” Garcia said.

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