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Apple Valley police experience what it’s like to have dementia

by Patty Dexter

Apple Valley Police Sgt. Jason WeishaarWhen Sgt. Jason Weishaar heard he would be going through dementia-related training at the Apple Valley Police Department, he thought there would be some role playing.

What he experienced on Tuesday ended up being drastically different.

Weishaar is one of roughly 60 Apple Valley police personnel who are going through the Virtual Dementia Tour during sessions Feb. 5, 6 and Feb. 13, to give them a taste of what people suffering from dementia experience.

He said going through the tour was not merely role-playing, it was a total deprivation of senses.

“It was difficult because they preyed on all the senses,” he said. “They didn’t just take your hearing away – it was partial hearing, partial vision.”

The tour

The Virtual Dementia Tour is a program aiming to build “a greater understanding of dementia through the use of patented sensory tools and instruction,” according to a news release. The tour was developed in 2001 by P.K. Beville, an award-winning geriatric specialist and founder of the nonprofit Second Wind Dreams, as part of her post-graduate work.

During the tour, certified trainers guide participants through the process and fit them with components that alter their senses. The participants are given different tasks to complete in seven-minutes. The process allows them the chance to experience the physical and mental challenges of people facing dementia, according to Second Wind Dreams.

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