By Trisha Coder
You're walking on what feels like tiny needles in your shoes, while wearing headphones that play a constant buzz. Large, bulky gloves limit the use of your hands, and you struggle to see through sunglasses with stickers on the lenses. You're led into a dim room pulsing with strobe lights and are asked to complete five simple tasks. You can only hear a few words because of the buzzing and can't complete the tasks.
This 10-minute simulation reflects what more than 5 million Americans over age 65 experience daily, living with Alzheimer's disease. Health science major Faith Lopez-Flores '19 participated in the simulation on Community Building Day at the assisted-living facility at Rockwood Hawthorne, near Whitworth. As president of the Alzheimer's Awareness Club at Whitworth, she wanted to feel what daily life is like for people coping with the disease.
Lopez-Flores has been working with residents at Rockwood through her internship with Generation Connect, a program that promotes intergenerational relationships between youth and elders through oral history. Lopez-Flores created two-minute videos that feature photos of the residents' families. When the videos play on iPads provided by Generation Connect, residents hear a family member's voice, sharing memories the photos evoke.
“If the residents feel really anxious or are wandering, [staff] can play these videos for them," Lopez-Flores says. “The videos usually will reduce some of that anxiety."