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Dementia LIVE gives participants a day in the life experience

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Dementia LIVE now available to the community

(WSIL) -- Healthcare workers, first responders, prison guards, and caregivers in southern Illinois can now see what it's like to have Dementia. 

It's called Dementia LIVE and it's an immersive experience. Hospice of Southern Illinois uses the program to train its employees and recently received a grant to share that knowledge with the community. 
Participants put on three key pieces of equipment before starting the exercise, which alter their senses:
  • Gloves: Diminish fine motor skills 
  • Headphones: Play noises that cause confusion, impair hearing and cause distraction 
  • Glasses: Narrow peripheral vision 
Melise Oakley, who is the coordinator of the program, then verbally gives participants a list of everyday tasks around the house to complete. Some examples include buttoning a shirt, counting change, and folding laundry.
Oakley says it's been eye opening for people to realize just how challenging it is to understand what's being asked of them and completing the chores. 
"This has been like an "ah-ha" moment for a lot of people. The community has had a very good with response in the aspect of it's real life issues," she explains. "And as a caregiver, you're able to take care of your loved ones better." 
Oakley understands what it's like to be a caregiver herself, and is passionate about Dementia LIVE since several of her loved ones have been diagnosed. 
"I've had four people in my family," she elaborates. "My father, grand father, my uncle and my aunt all with Alzheimer's. I thought that I understood what it was, but until you go through it, you don't." 
So far, more than 320 people have been trained with Dementia LIVE across southern Illinois.
Oakley recommends groups of four people at a time during a 30 minute session. For new caregivers, she likes to go more in-depth and spend an hour with them. 
This is free tool to medical facilities, first responders, prison staff and local caregivers who are residents in the community. 
Oakley believes it's important to get to as many groups as possible who interact with the elderly. From police officers who respond to a call that a person is lost and cant remember who they are to prison staff who look over senior inmates that can be harassed and targeted as they age. 
Hospice of Southern Illinois has even made the process easy, with Oakley coming to you. 
For more information call Hospice of Southern Illinois at (618) 997-3030 and ask for Melise Oakley. 

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