UNI simulation house helps visitors gain understanding of what it’s like to live with dementia

Published: May. 19, 2022 at 4:18 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) -A house near UNI’s campus is helping people understand what it’s like to live with dementia. According to the CDC 5.8 million people in the United States have dementia, with Alzheimer’s being the most common type. While dementia is common it’s not always fully understood by people, even caretakers. UNI’s dementia simulation house wants to change that.

“Until we get to experience a few moments in the world of someone who has dementia and then it’s like wow, that was so frustrating. No wonder grandpa is grumpy or no wonder grandma doesn’t feel like talking to anyone anymore,” explained Elaine Eshbaugh, Professor of Gerontology at UNI.

People going through the simulation do normal daily activities at the home while wearing gear to alter their senses. While dementia is commonly known to impact memory, Eshbaugh says it also impacts your senses.

”It is scary to have dementia, it is frustrating, it is sad,” she said.

The simulation takes place at a house on purpose.

”In reality the majority of people with dementia actually live in their own homes,” said Megan Zimmerman, Dementia Friendly State Coordinator with the Northeast Iowa Area Agency on Aging.

Those behind the simulation house are working to end the stereotypes that come with dementia, like that it only impacts older people.

”We know a lot of people that have been diagnosed in their forties, fifties, I know one person who was even diagnosed in their thirties, said Eshbaugh.

More than 300 people have gone through the simulation since the home opened earlier this year and they’re leaving with new insight.

”When we can increase empathy and awareness and understanding we’re decreasing that stigma,” said Zimmerman.

You can book your visit to the house online, it is the only dementia simulation house in the state.

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