Thanksgiving is a time for families to get together. But, folks at the Alzheimer's Association also believe it's an opportunity for loved ones to notice subtle signs of dementia.
"Some people haven't been together since last year at the holidays and they're going to see signs much more starkly than folks who are with someone every day," Amelia Schafer, Alzheimer's Association vice president of programs, said.
The Alzheimer's Association is working with Vivage Senior Living to get people to take the Second Wind Dreams Virtual Dementia Tour. People are fitted with special glasses, headphones, gloves, and other measures to allow them to experience what life is like for people suffering from dementia or Alzheimer's.
"It's imperative that people understand what people are going through," Evy Cugelman, Vivage Senior Living innovation specialist, said.
Linda Donahoe is one of those people. She is a caregiver for her mother who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's.
"She has a lot of hallucinations and delusions," Donahoe said. "At first, I was very angry."
At first, she did not understand what her mother was going through. During the Virtual Dementia Tour, Donahoe says she gained some perspective. She was startled and rattled a few times by the distracting noises being pumped through the phones.
"The noises were the worst part for me," Donahoe said. "If they're hearing that, that has to be very irritating after a while and I can see why people get agitated."
Cugelman says that type of understanding is valuable.
"That creates an awareness, a sensitivity, so that when you are working with or where you have family members or you encounter somebody on the street, you know what to do. You know what they are feeling," Cugelman said.
If you want to find out more about the 10 early warning signs of Alzheimer's, click here: http://www.alz.org/10-signs-symptoms-alzheimers-dementia.asp
Donahoe spent eight minutes in a the Virtual Dementia Tour, but it just may have changed her outlook.
"That's really why I wanted to do it was so that I could understand a little bit more what she's feeling," Donahoe said.