Academic News

Virtual Dementia, a RRC Nursing Student Experience

April 30, 2015

Dilemmapic1RRC Nursing Students Experience Virtual Dementia

Term 3 Older Adult Nursing students had the opportunity to experience virtual dementia with Jennifer Vicente-Licardo from the Alzheimer Society of Manitoba. The students visualized what a person with dementia may feel as if she or he embarks a fast bullet train where the scenes and people begin to change faster and more chaotic. Students discussed the impact of the debilitating terminal disease, Dementia.

Among other activities, the students were challenged by an unfair hearing test, trying to trace the mirror image of a star, to simulate the difficulty of the inability to control the brain. Students discussed the challenges of sensory and functional losses affecting activities of daily living and instrumental activities of daily living as dementia progresses.

Persons with dementia are trying to make sense of the world Dilemmapic2around them. They often are overwhelmed with feelings of loss in control, frustration, fear, helplessness, anger and grief. Their reactive and responsive behaviours are often “self-defensive” resulting in mutual resistance, verbal and physical outbursts or rough handling between the person with dementia and the carer.

While the person with dementia has structural brain damage, the carers with healthy brain would need to find alternative ways to reach out to them, to help them meet their needs that they are unable to express. Instructor Poh-Lin Lim commented, “Rushed care, rapid fire speech and built up frustrations within ourselves would not help our roles as carers. Instead, give the persons with dementia some space, go with their flow, return to re-approach later when resistance is met; coupled with a bright smile, gentle voice tone and a caring attitude, would enhance the caring experience”.

Finding the Real Person behind the Disease…

Look closer, there was once a young spirited person full of life and dreams trapped inside this terminal disease called Dementia.   The following are a few random excerpts from the students’ reflective comments:

Today’s presentation has helped to think about… The “new to me” fact I learned today about the cognitive changes and its impact on the person is….
1.     “The person not the disease” “ The 7As and how they affect people with this disease”
2.     “My approach and how it affects other’s behaviour” How a person with dementia may view themselves and others
3.     ”How Dementia can affect the family” “You have to remember that every person has a story and deserves dignity and respect”
4.     “The person behind the disease; they may see themselves still as a young person and still capable”. “The person’s changes are not always genetics or anything they did”.
5.     “The person’s perception of their reality”. “It is scary for the person going through it; before I just thought that they were unaware of what was going on; not recognizing how scary their life has become”.

Course leader Marilyn Penner and Instructor Poh-Lin Lim would like to thank Catherine Baxter, Chairperson, RRC Nursing, and Jennifer Vicente-Licardo, Education Coordinator of Alzheimer Society of Manitoba for this unique learning opportunity.