KIM Q&A with P.K Beville;
Founder of Second Wind Dreams and the Virtual Dementia Tour
1. KIM – Please explain what the Virtual Dementia Tour is; for those readers who may not be familiar with this term/program.
SWD – 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 Tour enables caregivers and professionals to experience for themselves the physical and mental challenges facing those with dementia.
2. KIM – As the creator of this innovative experience; please share what led you to create and develop this program. Had you identified an un-met need in the marketplace that prompted you?
SWD – Based on my years of scholarly research, I invented the Virtual Dementia Tour to assist the growing number of people around the world affected by Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.
I began serving geriatrics in 1983. From the beginning, I was amazed at how resilient the residents were in light of their circumstances. In addition, it was fascinating to see how people with dementia started becoming aware of their environment the more I talked with them. Their scores on the psychological evaluations improved after just a few minutes. I was hooked on dementia then and fascinated by how the brain was working.
The first steps in the development of the VDT began then. I started observing, planning programs, doing in-service training, studying what worked and what didn’t in the care and treatment of dementia. I had the best of all worlds: the residents (called patients back then), staff that wanted to learn, and many different eldercare communities to draw from.
I learned pretty quickly that the treatment of dementia was directly related to the knowledge that the staff received, and the staff received information most quickly when they could “see” what I was teaching them. I used visual imagery, role playing, demonstration, modeling, and behavior tracking. The basic question I was asking them was, “What would you do if this was you?” — but there was a seemingly impossible disconnect. Dementia is one of the only disease states that doesn’t allow us to determine the damage it is causing by using traditional medical-model methods. Worse yet, the residents can’t tell us what is happening; we can only see it as the symptoms it manifests, and many of those manifestations are behavior problems.
Each of the patented components of the VDT has been researched and validated for its accuracy. Because I decided to couple the cognitive and physical decline, we see a more complete dementia profile. In fact, participants in the VDT look and behave exactly like those with the disease.
3. KIM – Who benefits from the Virtual Dementia Tour? Please share who the target audience is and what the impact is.
SWD – The Virtual Dementia Tour is targeted at those affected by Alzheimer’s disease including, professional and family caregivers, eldercare communities, other healthcare providers, first responders, retail corporations, municipal employees and nonprofit organizations.
I often say that when someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease it not only affects them, it affects their family, their church, their town…really even the retailers and first responders serving their community.
Those who have gone through the Virtual Dementia Tour find themselves immediately identifying with their family members. The same is true for professional caregivers. Once they walk in the shoes of a person with Alzheimer’s disease, they become more patient, more understanding and find themselves looking for solutions that do not include increased medication and expensive inpatient hospitalization.
“While it is difficult for anyone to know how it really feels to walk in the shoes of a person with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia, the Virtual Dementia Tour gets you very close to that reality,” said Carol Steinberg, chief executive officer of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America. “This inside look can help family and professional caregivers better understand this devastating brain disorder, adjust how they provide assistance with activities of daily living, and soften their own reactions to behavioral issues—ultimately resulting in more optimal and compassionate care.”
4. KIM – Since its conception; how has the program grown? Please explain how far-reaching the efforts have become. And, if you can quantify how many individuals have participated, please share those numbers.
SWD – The Virtual Dementia Tour continues to be well-received and praised for the way it is affecting care for those affected by the disease. Each day it is impacting more and more lives around the world. To date, more than 500,000 people in 17 countries have experienced the Virtual Dementia Tour. It is now available in French, English, Spanish, German, Hebrew, Slavic and Italian.
Many people embrace the VDT because proceeds from the sale of Virtual Dementia Tour editions support the work of Second Wind Dreams, our international, nonprofit organization recognized as the first in the nation committed to changing the perception of aging through the fulfillment of dreams for elders.
5. KIM – What’s next for the Virtual Dementia Tour? Any plans for 2014 and beyond?
SWD – Our plans for the Virtual Dementia Tour focus on increasing access to the Tour throughout the world. I am also continuing with my research to ensure that those affected by Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias receive the best care available.
The alarming rise in the number of Alzheimer’s diagnoses in countries around the world means we are at a crucial time in the progression of how we care for those affected by the disease.
The solution to Alzheimer’s today and in the foreseeable future is in developing a better and more personal understanding of the day-to-day challenges facing those with the disease. Healthcare dollars will continue to be spent inappropriately as long as we turn a deaf ear to current management of this disease.
P.K. Beville is founder of Second Wind Dreams®, an international nonprofit organization based in Marietta, Georgia. Launched in 1997, it is changing the perception of aging by fulfilling the dreams of those living in elder care communities, thereby enhancing their lives and changing society’s perception of elders. For more information about Second Wind Dreams and the Virtual Dementia Tour visitwww.SecondWindDreams.org, www.Facebook.com/SecondWindDreams or follow them on Twitter with @SecondWindDream. Visithttp://www.secondwind.org/virtual-dementia-tour/certified-vdt-trainers/ for a complete listing of the more than 60 Virtual Dementia Tour trainers listed by state.