"A whole different perspective:" 'Virtual Dementia Tour' sheds light on the disease affecting millions

Virtual Dementia Tour

BROOKFIELD -- Dementia is a disease that affects more than five million people in the United States. And it can be difficult for caregivers or family members to really understand what that person is going through.

But a powerful experience available in southeast Wisconsin is designed to bridge that gap.

“The greatest form of respect that we can give," said Joanna Shupryt -- a quality manager for Community Care -- quoting Second Wind Dreams Founder and CEO P.K. Beville, creator of the virtual tour. "Is to walk in somebody else’s shoes."

The Virtual Dementia Tour is designed to build a greater understanding of the degenerative brain disease.

Gloves hinder your fine motor skills, glasses impair your vision and headphones distract your ears. It’s sensory overload, as simple tasks become frustratingly difficult.

The tour has spread to countries around the globe. In May, it came to Community Care’s headquarters in Brookfield.

“It was transformative," Dr. Mary Gavinski, Chief Medical Officer for Community Care, says.

Virtual Dementia Tour

The nonprofit organization helps care for more than 10,000 people in Wisconsin.

“It was the first time that I had heard of it," Gavinski says. "And I’ve been a geriatrician for over 30 years.”

Since May, more than 300 staff, caregivers and partners of Community Care have gone through the tour.

“To actually be able to experience something like what they’re going through," says Gavinski. "Gives you a whole different perspective.”

Shedding light on what can be a dark existence for people with dementia.

In 2015, the number of people in Wisconsin with dementia was around 115,000. And that number was expected to grow to a quarter of a million by the year 2040.

The Virtual Dementia Tour is a scientifically proven method of building a greater understanding of dementia through the use of patented sensory tools and instruction.  The VDT was created by P.K. Beville, an award-winning geriatric psychologist, dementia expert, and founder of Second Wind Dreams, and international, nonprofit, organization recognized as the first in the nation committed to changing the perception of aging through the fulfillment of dreams for elders and the offering of innovative educational opportunities to caregivers, families, and communities.

For more information about Second Wind Dreams and the Virtual Dementia Tour, please call the office at 678-624-0500 or visit online at www.secondwind.org.