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My Dementia Experience

Last week Goolistan Cooper, our Communications Officer, took part in the Virtual Dementia Tour that came to our Home in Surbiton. In this blog he gives us an insight into the world that people living with dementia experience every day.


Struggling to do the smallest tasks because your vision has failed. Finding it impossible to follow what’s happening around you because of the confusion going on in your head. This may sound like a nightmare, but it’s actually everyday life for many people living with dementia.


The Virtual Dementia Tour rolled into The Royal Star & Garter Homes – Surbiton, giving staff an eye-opening insight into what life is like for many of the older people who live there. Residents’ relatives are also invited to experience life as their loved ones do.

I won’t go into any significant detail of what the tour involved for fear of spoiling it for those who haven’t yet been but what I can say is that you don ill-fitting gloves, glasses, headphones and insoles.


What I then experienced was a sense of unease and discomfort, of confusion and helplessness. Yet despite all of this, I’m pretty certain there was a hint of a smile on my lips. That’s because I knew I was in a simulated environment. I knew this experience – though uncomfortable and claustrophobic – would soon be over.


At the same time I definitely felt guilt. I was thinking what it must be like for people who can’t slip off the headphones, who don’t get to return the gloves and glasses. I was thinking of the people who can’t switch off dementia.

Goolistan in front of the Virtual Dementia Tour bus

Afterwards, during a hugely informative debrief, we’re told the virtual dementia we were subjected to was ‘mid-level’… Cue more pause for thought from everyone in the room.


The debrief covers many more aspects of dementia and what we can all do to make life that little bit more comfortable for people living with it.


I thought it was wonderful that the Charity offered this not only to its staff, but to relatives of residents it cares for so well. I can only imagine how difficult the experience must have been for them.


This tour gave an invaluable insight into the world that people living with dementia experience every day. I’m glad I did it. If more people were able to understand how lonely and frightening an existence it is, perhaps we could all do something to make life easier for someone living with dementia.


How good would that be?