Local organization hosts ‘Dementia Experience’ to raise awareness

Local organization hosts ‘Dementia Experience’ to raise awareness

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Alzheimer’s and Dementia Services of Memphis hosted the “Dementia Experience” Wednesday in hopes of giving people a sense of what it’s like to live with the struggles of Alzheimer’s or Dementia.

"I'm really excited about being able to talk from a place of experience," said Jacqueline Wallace before starting her session.

WMC Action News 5 talked to Wallace before and after her five minute session.

"A taste of awareness for what they're experiencing. It was rough," said Wallace emotionally after she was done.

Alzheimer’s & Dementia Services of Memphis also put WMC Action News 5′s Allie Herrera through the Dementia Experience. She was given spiked inserts to imitate neuropathy, had her fingers taped to resemble arthritis and was goggles with black dots to mimic macular degeneration. She was also given a headset to wear that constantly played noise.

Then, she was brought into a room and asked to perform, what she believed to be five simple tasks. She could barely complete two of them.

"You not only lose short term memory, which is what everybody knows about, but you lose the ability to make choices and reason out things," said Executive Director Ruthann Shelton.

Data from the Shelby County Health Department shows Alzheimer's was one of the top 10 leading causes of death in 2017. There are about 30,000 people in Shelby County currently living with Alzheimer's.

As for Jacqueline Wallace, she wants to encourage others to step into someone else's shoes even if it's just for this one time.

"When you feel what someone else feels it changes your whole dynamics of how you think about what they're going through," said Wallace.Each participant was also required to fill out a questionnaire before and after the experience. This allowed participants to reflect on their experiences.

The Dementia Experience is done twice annually at Dorothy’s Place. The experience can also be brought to places like hospitals and support groups.

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