A student takes part in a recent dementia tour hosted by DMC nursing students.

Nursing assistant students in Del Mar’s continuing education program will help people experience what it is like to have dementia through the use of special goggles, shoes and headphones on Feb. 24.

The virtual dementia tour was an annual event before the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Donna Huddleston, lead nurse planner at the Center for Economic Development. Safety precautions have been implemented for its return this year, Huddleston said.

“There are new changes with the tour due the pandemic as opposed to years in the past, which include special covers for the headset and altered tasks that can help people from getting infected,” Huddleston said.

Huddleston said the nursing students act as tour guides.

“We have the students … sign people in, take them in a room, observe their behavior, come out and after they have their simulation, they debrief,” Huddleston said. “Some of the individuals even come out crying because they learn about the chaos their loved ones are going through every day because the simulation basically impairs the senses.”

Huddleston has personally seen how dementia can affect a family.

“My brother has dementia and is in long-term care up in Chicago,” she said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 5 million Americans 65 and older had dementia in 2014, with that figure projected to be nearly 14 million by 2060.

The tour is funded by a nonprofit organization called Second Wind Dreams located in Roswell, Georgia, and is open to students 18 and older, families, churches, first responders, business leaders and community organizations.

It will be from 1-4 p.m. Feb. 24 in Conference Room 1 of the Harvin Center. Appointments are required.For more information or to register, contact Rebecca De La Garza at 698-2115 or rdelag3@delmar.edu

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