It’s often been said that in order to truly understand someone’s experience, you must walk a mile in their shoes. We believe there’s no truer statement when it comes to those with Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia. We can learn about the symptoms, the stages of the journey, how to care for their needs and have as much compassion as possible, but not knowing what it ‘feels’ like to live with dementia can leave a gap in traditional memory care. To close that gap, our care teams participate in a specialized dementia simulation training as part of our exclusive SYMPHONY OF LIFE® program. This highly tactile training is where staff will begin to “walk that mile” to a better understanding of the challenges our residents face each day.
What is Dementia Simulation Training?
Much like it sounds, dementia simulation training is designed to give participants a small glimpse of what it’s like to live with Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia. For example, we have a dementia simulation room in our memory care communities where we conduct the training. Here, our staff experiences challenges that residents face daily such as:
- Loss of hearing
- Loss of central and peripheral vision
- Loss of sensory nerves and fine motor skills
- Arthritis and neuropathy
We use a variety of tools to simulate the experience including:
- Wearing gardening gloves with beans in them and asking them to pick up different items
- Wearing goggles that are waxed over with just a pinhole in the middle with which to see and asking them to navigate through the room.
How Dementia Simulation Training Improves Memory Care
In traditional memory care, staff is specially trained to have a deeper understanding of dementia as well as effective communication strategies and techniques for managing challenging behaviors. But we believe it takes more to support residents in a relevant and meaningful way. Dementia simulation training is an experiential approach that is backed by research and offers benefits that include:
- Helping us understand the ‘why’ – We know that dementia residents exhibit certain behaviors, but this extra training helps us to understand what may be behind those behaviors – what they’re feeling and the challenges they’re experiencing – to truly know the best way to help.
- Providing education – It’s not just our care staff that interacts with our memory care residents. Whether it’s housekeeping, dining or other departments, we want them to have a more realistic understanding of what it’s like to live with dementia too.
- Creating more compassion and empathy – Empathy comes from truly experiencing how someone FEELS and these simulations are eye opening for even our most experienced staff. It puts them in our residents’ shoes in a way no other training can.
- Empowering success – By experiencing what matters most to our residents, we can be more intentional in our care in everything from the environment we create, to the experiences we offer to how we interact with our residents each day.
Training is Just the Start with SYMPHONY OF LIFE® Memory Care
Not only do we take our training a step further, our entire SYMPHONY OF LIFE® program goes beyond traditional memory care that focuses primarily on supporting the physical needs of residents. Instead, our memory care program offers an intentionally orchestrated lifestyle experience designed to nurture the whole person so they can be more active and engaged with opportunities to thrive in every aspect of life.
Like an elaborate musical score designed to bring harmony to every movement and activity of community life, we’re dedicated to enriching each resident in body, mind and spirit and throughout the entire community of family, friends and support services. That’s what makes our memory care program ideal for those with dementia as it encourages and stimulates mental acuity, in addition to physical and emotional wellbeing.
SYMPHONY OF LIFE® is a registered trademark of 12 Oaks Senior Living.