Several centers in the United States are conducting tests that help students better understand people with dementias.
Northside College Preparatory School in Chicago is conducting a virtual reality training program to help students better interact with seniors with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. To achieve this, they use two experiences based on two people with different diseases. The first is an older man (Alfred) with suspected mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and age-related vision and hearing loss, and the second is a middle-aged woman (Beatriz) with Alzheimer’s. VR allows students to experience the reality of patients, thus gaining a better understanding and empathy for them.
“Students tell us that experiencing VR training before they volunteer improves their empathy and increases enthusiasm for working with seniors. Two documented results of our program, ” he says Daniel C. Potts, creator of the Bringing Art to Life program of which simulations are part. “It can also decrease stigma and negative attitudes about older people, as well as interest in healthcare careers.”
What does it feel like to have dementia? That’s the answer we get thanks to these immersive modules, according to Neelum Aggarwal, M. D. at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, who helped build Beatriz’s. “For students, it’s a good test to see if they have empathy for their patients and are aware of any prejudices they may have towards people with dementia.”
Starting in September, the Rush center will begin training with 60 Medical and Pharmacy students. The program will also be launched at the University of Alabama with student volunteers.
VR can also help patients with dementias by improving their overall well-being.as we recently published.