The Waxahachie Senior Activity Center is providing residents with a first-hand look at how Alzheimer’s and dementia affect people. The Virtual Dementia Tour will be held at the center from 9-11 a.m. Friday, Aug. 9. The event is free and open to the public to attend.

Center director Jeanee Smiles said the event will allow attendees to experience simulated dementia, which, in turn, will help them understand what a loved one who has been diagnosed with the disease faces on a daily basis. The tour will also provide tools and healthcare resources for them to help their family members.

“This is our Virtual Dementia Tour and it is open to the entire community,” Smiles said. “It is a simulated experience through a simulated dementia created for families, organizations and companies to better understand the physical and mental challenges of the disease. 

“For somebody with dementia … it is a whole new world for them,” she said. “It is a threshold they go through and their brain opens it.”

Senior Center administrative assistant Debbie Bryant agrees with Smiles that the event will be helpful in that the simulated dementia experience helps provide first-hand knowledge to people.

“They have created these items that they put in your shoes so you know how the bottom of their feet feels,” Bryant said. “They put you in these special goggles so that you can see (how they see) and earphones so you can hear how they hear every day. 

“You are living in their world for 15 minutes and you are trying to do everyday duties as we do,” she said. “It makes you cry because you want to know how these people are keeping it together.”

The simulated dementia experience will help people communicate better with those who have been diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s, said Bryant, sharing that her mother developed Alzheimer’s. She hopes to share her knowledge and experience with those who are in attendance.

As of 2014, there were as many as five million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The symptoms of the disease typically first appear after age 60, with the risk increasing with age. Younger people may get Alzheimer’s disease but it is less common.

Home Instead Senior Care is sponsoring the event and will have social workers and medical professionals on site to answer questions and provide information.

The Waxahachie Senior Activity Center is located at 122 Park Hills Drive. For more information, call 469-309-4280.

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