Dementia is a complex ailment that can be challenging for caregivers and healthcare providers. Dementia simulation is one of the best ways of creating a near-reality experience while also exposing healthcare providers to the ups and downs of living with dementia.
Statistics show that this condition affects about 670,000 to 820, 000 individuals in the United Kingdom alone. This number is also increasing steadily. Statistics also indicate that about 42% of people living in the UK know either a family member or a close friend with dementia.
Terms that are commonly used to describe this disease include amnesia, altered perception, aphasia, apraxia, anosognosia, and agnosia. Although these medical definitions and terms serve as good screening and diagnostic tools for caregivers and healthcare professionals, they can limit the ability to comprehend the real human experience of the disease.
Importance of Dementia Simulator
Simulation can help caregivers, volunteers, and even healthcare professionals build dementia awareness, acquire skills in supporting patients more effectively, and get insight into the needs of people with the condition. In other words, the simulation can enable the participant to develop awareness into experiences of individuals with dementia.
Through this experiential learning, participants can explore and reflect on potential needs and experiences of their own loved ones. They can also acquire knowledge and skills in the areas of environment, communication, ethical/legal aspects of practice, and communication before they can start living with individuals suffering from this condition.
In simple terms, simulation can be helpful especially if done well by knowledgeable people. Knowledge and skills acquired can prevent them from making unnecessary mistakes. After the event, participants should be able to:
- Create a good relationship with individuals suffering from dementia and even their carers
- Comprehend different interventions to support individuals with this condition and their carers
- Communicate well with individuals with dementia
- Support spiritual, psychological, and physical needs in different environment
- Assess individuals care needs, safety issues, and strengths
In August this year, the dementia simulation was performed in The Arc of Midland so as to help the caregivers know how to deal with patients suffering from this condition. The event was hosted by both The Arc and Hometown Home Health and Hospice. The simulator was developed by a group of doctors.
This event did not only help the caregivers know how to stay with the patients, but it also helped them know the challenges these people go through in their day to day lives. Before the commencement of the event, the participants took a pretest in order to gauge how much they know about this disease.
The Commencement of the Simulation
Nichole Bliss, who was the patient care coordinator at HHHH, provided every individual with a small plastic insert that had small spikes. He advised them to place it between the shoe and sockless foot. This was meant to imitate the experience of a patient with neuropathy. The participants put on headphones that played disturbing noise and inhibiting sunglasses.
Then Bliss said, “We are messing with their senses.” The participants were then taken to the entrance of another conference room. Another patient care coordinator, by the name Nathan Ross, explained in different tones of voice, the five simple tasks the groups would do from the next room. Such simple tasks were: match 6 pairs of socks and put a white sweater on the top of a table.
After being briefed, Carole Weed and Misty Evans walked into the apartment. Two strobe lights, darkness, and recording of loud sirens changed the surroundings. This made it hard for the participants to complete the assigned tasks.
Evans who was a direct care expert at Independent Living Community said that she was going to face some challenges when performing the tasks. She clarified that she had got instructions for only 2 out of the 5 tasks to be performed. Once she completed the tasks, she went and stood at one section of the room so as to wait out the remaining period of time.
Afterwards, Evans explained that the experience helped in instilling empathy. She also said that the experience was valuable and helpful to her because she had a family member with dementia. Weed, who was a certified nursing assistant, took much of her time folding clothes placed on one of the tables. Weed said that she had not heard even a single instruction but did not give up.
Weed also said that the experience was interesting. She also noted that although she takes good care of patients with dementia, she made it clear that she will be expecting less from them from then onward. She said that she used to think that people with this condition have the capability of doing more than they do.
Taking part in the simulation helped her comprehend what it means to suffer from dementia. This will definitely help her handle the patients in a better way. She also felt sorry for the patients she had dealt with earlier because she had not known the depth of the condition.
After the Simulation
After the event, participants were required to take a post-test. They were required to answer questions about what they learned from the simulation. One of the questions asked whether they acquired a better know-how of the touching needs associated with this illness. The largest percentage of the participant had chosen “strongly agree.”
In another question, the participants were asked to state whether they were physically capable of performing the simple tasks. Most of them stated that they were not capable. There was also a question that wanted to find out how is it easy for people with this sickness to get through the day. Almost every participant marked “unbearable.” In addition, most of them said that they felt anxious after simulation.
When talking to one of the participants who had become combative and frustrated, Ross said that he had been taking part in such events for about five to six years and that is why he loved it. He also clarified that those were the experiences that people with dementia go through on daily basis.
Bliss said that the simulation provided merely a sensational concept of the condition. He continued to say that the five-minute experience was vital for health care providers and caregivers. It helped them learn how to take care and treat individuals whose situation is permanent and also pervasive.
Facts Every Caregiver Needs Know About Dementia
Although dementia starts to develop in midlife, it isn't diagnosed until the symptoms and signs have progressed significantly. Symptoms such as aggression and memory loss can dramatically change the personality of a patient. This can cause other complications.
Research is the only sure way of eliminating this disease. The findings from the research will help doctors and specialists know more about the causes of the ailment, diagnosis, cure, and prevention. A global dementia research approach, with priority investment areas and clear ambition, is critical to leveraging worldwide investments and interests in the most appropriate ways.
At present, this condition is untreatable. However, there are procedures that can help in relieving some of its symptoms. These procedures can only work for a short period of time. This shows that there is a need for developing treatment procedures that can either slow down the progress of dementia or delay its onset.
Different research centers across the globe need to collaborate and cooperate in order to come up with the best techniques of fighting this ailment. Full support from government and other institutions will be required in order to achieve these goals. Proper international coordination and cooperation will play an important role when it comes to the elimination of barriers to treatment.