I put on glasses that distorted my vision, placed thick gloves on, shoe inserts that made my feet tingly, and headphones that made all kinds of mumbled discussion.

I was ready to start the session.

I entered a dimly lit room with a table full of items.

Then, I was given five tasks to complete in five minutes. With all of the interferences I could barely focus on the tasks at hand. I started by putting on a jacket which was very difficult to do with the thick gloves. Forget zipping it up; I didn’t even try.

Next, I remembered that I needed to count 17 cents off the table and place it in a coin purse. This was also extremely difficult. First, I had to find all of the items under some clothes on the table. I kept hearing voices coming from the headphones, which I could not quite make out.

Geez, how much was that I am supposed to count again?

Oh wait! I forgot I was supposed to set the kitchen table. Now where are all of those items? I am looking, find them, but my hands are not cooperating, and then, I drop a knife. Oh my! Talk about hard trying to pick that up off the floor.

My feet are tingling, and I know I have other tasks to complete yet, but I can’t remember what i need to do.

Out of the corner of my eye, I spy a flashlight and realize that I was supposed to put batteries in it and turn it on. Just as I complete this, the five-minute buzzer goes off.

I felt like I was in the room forever, trying to complete the tasks, not five minutes. I was sweating and couldn’t wait to get out of the room and take off all of this extra stuff!

Now, imagine this is your world every day? There is no taking off the headphones, or the glasses, gloves or inserts. This is your world 24/7 with a slight memory that might be triggered from time to time.

Did you know that Alzheimer’s disease is diagnosed every 68 seconds in the U.S. alone?

Seven out of ten people live at home where family and friends provide 78 percent of the care.

The Virtual Dementia Tour creates an understanding that results in more empathetic care. Heritage Woods staff hosted one of these tours this fall.

Our staff, community and other health care providers participated in the tour, which is designed to give participants an up-close, hands-on experience that provides critical insight to those caring for people with dementia.

Here’s some statistics we learned during the event: 50 to 70 percent of people with Alzheimer’s will exhibit agitated and possibly violent behaviors. These behaviors can put caregivers and family at risk, especially since more than 50 percent of caregivers have admitted to being abusive to a family member who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. Proper education and training is vital to helping people understand the frustration that the affected person is going through, and ultimately result in better care.

Our community was proud to host the Virtual Dementia Tour, especially as we prepare for a memory care expansion that was recently approved for Heritage Woods of Sterling.

The dementia was sponsored by Serenity Hospice and Home and was brought to the area from Second Wind Dreams.