Alzheimer’s Virtual Reality Sensory Experience Featured at Upcoming ASA Workshop

SAN FRANCISCO, March 23, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA)—in collaboration with Greener Media—is hosting a workshop titled, "What Would You Do: A Sensory Experience" at this year’s Annual Aging in America Conference of the American Society on Aging (ASA), Monday, March 26, at 2:30pm PDT. The conference/workshop will be held at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square, located at 333 O’Farrell Street.

This program, originally featured as part of AFA’s Care Connection Sunset Series, will involve engaging participants in a virtual reality experience in an effort to briefly replicate what it may be like to live with Alzheimer’s disease.

The goal of this empathy-building workshop is to impart to care partners the importance of patience and understanding when working with individuals who are living with Alzheimer’s and to further inform on more targeted communications practices.

AFA Director of Educational and Social Services and workshop leader, Molly Fogel, LCSW, who lent her expertise to the Greener Media team—the developers of the virtual reality tool—said, “With the inclusion of this virtual reality platform at the workshop, our intention is to provide just a snapshot of what those living with dementia may encounter and for participants to briefly experience what it’s like to step inside their shoes—including the visual and spatial disconnect individuals may experience—as well as other sensory impairments.”

Dementia-related disorders—particularly Alzheimer’s disease—can influence the way an individual experiences and engages with their environment.  The disease can impact a person’s speech, hearing, vision, mobility, touch, and taste.

“It is critical that we do all that we can to better understand the many ways dementia can impact a person’s ability to engage with the world around them, which could help inform on better communications practices.  For example, if I know that a person may have distorted vision, I may not be so quick to judge when they don’t recognize me when I come for a visit,” said Fogel.

The workshop participants should also gain a working understanding of the cognitive and psychiatric symptoms related to Alzheimer’s and will explore—through group discussion—how use of virtual reality tools might help increase understanding of and empathy for individuals living with this illness.

“Increasing relatedness and knowledge of a person’s current reality could not only help to inform on better practices for engagement—but the improved understanding and communications could have a domino effect, leading to a reduction in the anxiety, agitation and aggression that sometimes presents in the course of the illness,” added Fogel.

For more information, visit: "What Would You Do: A Sensory Experience".

About Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA):

The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America is a non-profit organization that unites more than 2,600 member organizations nationwide in the goal of providing optimal care and services to individuals living with dementia, and to their caregivers and families. Its services include a national, toll-free helpline (866-232-8484) staffed by licensed social workers, the National Memory Screening Program, educational conferences and materials and “AFA Partners in Care” dementia care training for healthcare professionals. For more information about AFA, call 866-232-8484, visit www.alzfdn.org, follow us on Twitter, or connect with us on Facebook or LinkedIn

American Society on Aging (ASA): Annual Aging in American Conference

American Society on Aging (ASA): Annual Aging in America Conference will be held during Mar 26 - 29, 2018 at Hilton San Francisco Union Square, San Francisco, California, United States of America. This Conference has been approved for a maximum of 19.5 Continuing Education Units. ASA's Aging in America Conference is the nation’s largest and most dynamic multidisciplinary event known for its comprehensive view of the issues, challenges and opportunities in aging. It is the place to connect with peers, refresh your knowledge and gain new perspectives. We invite you to join our conference community of nearly 3,000 multidisciplinary professionals who, like you, are working to improve the lives of older adults.

Contact:   
Karin Eskenazi, keskenazi@alzfdn.org, 866-232-8484, ext. 136
Sandy Silverstein, ssilverstein@alzfdn.org, 866-232-8484, ext. 104

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