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PSU students experience DementiaLive

The Record Herald - 10/9/2019

Oct. 9--MONT ALTO -- Penn State Mont Alto hosted a DementiaLive simulation to show what it's like to live with cognitive impairment and sensory change.

The demonstration was facilitated by AGE-u-cate and Penn Cares and catered to health care professionals as well as individuals personally impacted by loved ones facing these illnesses.

Eighty individuals participated in the 45-minute simulations. Gloves, headphones and glasses were worn to simulate the loss of touch, site and sound confusion. Tasks performed drawing a picture of their family, finding an orange scarf and putting it on, finding a deck of cards and separating the fours and the sevens as well as separating straws and putting them in a plastic bag.

"I thought it was very eye-opening," said PSU student Andrea Peckman from Chambersburg. "I know some individuals who have dementia, and I've seen different signs like confusion and different things, but I didn't realize before the simulation just how many distractions there can be and how many things can really impact tasks that seem so simple. It gave me a new perspective on the mindset and mentality of individuals with dementia."

Jackie Schwab, Penn State Mont Alto associate professor of human development and family studies explained, "There is great need for people to work with Alzheimer's patients and dementia-related illnesses both professionally and personally. To help me try to comprehend what happens to the brain suffering from dementia and to be a better caretaker, I attended a DementiaLive simulation last spring. It gave me insight, and I wanted to provide that same experience for my students and others who may have someone in their lives dealing with this illness."

According to the Alzheimer's Association, one in 10 people age 65 and older has Alzheimer's dementia and every 65 seconds someone in the United States develops Alzheimer's disease.

"Simulations like this are important because they provide the closest possible experience a person can have to understanding what someone with dementia would actually go through other than having dementia yourself," Peckman said.

For more information contact Patty Gochenauer at pms16@psu.edu.

Contact John Irwin at jirwin@therecordherald.com or at 717-762-2151.

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