Susan Robbins, Regional Director of Dementia Training for The Arbor Company, is back with an encore presentation of Dementia Live®—a high-impact, dementia simulation experience. She joins us to share a preview into this immersive experience that demonstrates how dementia affects the brain and the body.

Watch the video above for a preview of Senior Living LIVE! Dementia Live®, and then visit to access the full webinar!


Video Transcript

- Hello, everybody. And welcome into Senior Living Live. My name is Melissa. Thank you so much for being with us today. Now, we are very much looking forward to an encore presentation of our dementia live webinar. It will be April 19th at 4:00 PM Eastern time. Now, we did this back in January with great success and we are once again going to bring this opportunity to you, the viewer, to show you exactly how dementia affects the brain and the body. Susan Robbins is our point person for all things related to dementia. She works with us at the Arbor Company. Her knowledge has helped so many people. And she's back with us today to give us a little bit of an idea of what this webinar is all about. And this webinar, just to let you know, if you're curious, "Should I sign up? Should I not sign up?" Is for any of you out there who may yourself be diagnosed with dementia, or you have a loved one experiencing this right now. Susan, how are you?

- I am doing great, thank you. And you?

- I'm doing great. Thank you so much for being here. You are always a fan favorite when we have our webinars because this is a topic that a lot of people struggle with and the information that comes out, especially in this particular webinar has been so helpful for so many people, which is why we are doing it again. So Susan, tell us a little bit about your background. Why are you our guru when it comes to dementia knowledge?

- Well, I have had the opportunity to work with the Arbor Company and work with people living with dementia. And a lot of your knowledge comes from actually working with people living with dementia, and resetting environments, getting to know what their needs are, and learning from their behaviors so that we can enhance their lives. And with Arbor, I have the opportunity to do that, and also how to coach family members, team members, and fire departments, police departments, anybody that needs something. The more knowledge we have, the better quality of life somebody living with dementia is gonna have.

- I totally agree. And through all of our interactions, Susan, I've learned so much about dementia and I know others will too. Now, this is, once again, for those who are not familiar or were not a part of our first webinar where we did this back in January, it is truly immersive and we really want everyone to participate because I think it really does matter to show you what it's like to live in a body that has been diagnosed with dementia. So Susan, tell us a little bit about what viewers can expect in this webinar.

- Well, one of the biggest things people struggle with is having a knowledge to have empathy for somebody living with dementia. And until you've walked in somebody else's shoes, you can have compassion for what they're going through, but not have the empathy. And this gives you the opportunity to feel for just a few moments what it's like to live day to day with dementia because we're gonna alter your senses, which is what happens. Dementia is so much more than just memory loss. It's lots of different things and how it affects your sense of touch, your sense of your environment. It heightens some of your senses and lowers others. And this experience helps you to get through that.

- Yeah, and this particular experience does, you do need some items so you need to bring some things to help you be involved in that experience. What do people need to bring to this webinar to truly get the whole value of it?

- Well, we need you to bring several items so that you can understand the different needs of somebody living with dementia and how it affects them, such as sunglasses because vision is impaired, and not like the vision where your glasses correct the vision, it's peripheral vision, an ability to comprehend what things are. Also, a pair of gloves, the sensory needs of your hands. That's why I struggle with a button, it has a lot more to do with how it feels. And then later on in the disease, it's the fine motor skill. But I lose some of that sense of touch. And then we want you to bring a glass of water, a cup of coffee, something to drink, because sometimes even simple tasks can be difficult living with dementia. Please bring your wallet and your purse if your wallet's in your purse. Because again, this is simple everyday tasks that we're gonna ask you to do something with that item. A pad of paper and a pen to write with, some sticky notes, little yellow sticky notes, your cell phone, and also a magazine or a book, and a paper clip. Just these are the things, these are everyday items, and this is what we're gonna help you understand is the experience of the day to day simple things in life that become much more difficult with dementia.

- You mentioned the button and how that feels, and that can feel different to somebody who has dementia. So without stealing your thunder, so to speak, from taking away all the great knowledge we're gonna see in the webinar, why are these items the particular items that one would need to gain that knowledge or that experience? How do these correlate?

- Well, they correlate in the things we're gonna ask you to do with these items are everyday tasks. Because just getting up and doing simple everyday tasks can be overwhelming and also hard for us to have the empathy and understanding of how simple tasks can become so overwhelming. Why didn't I button my shirt? It's not that I don't know my shirt needs to be buttoned, I just literally can't so I give up and I don't care. And it's to help you understand that frustration level that happens.

- Got you. So I have been on site when you have loud people like our first responders, firemen, police officers, et cetera, and they've gone through this and it really is immersive. They're walking through and you see people come out on the other side, and one, they're shocked because they never understood what it was like to be in those shoes, and then others who maybe had somebody in their family who was diagnosed, they had such a better understanding for what that person either went through or is going through. So what is some of the feedback you've received from people regarding this particular technique or this immersive, our immersive webinar, and then the immersive experience in general?

- Well, I think when working with firefighters and police, they go into emergency situations where people's anxieties are heightened even if you don't have dementia. And if you're interacting with somebody with dementia, you can miss the cues that it's dementia and maybe think they're altered from alcohol or different things, which is different approaches, and they know how to approach that. But it's a much calmer, the importance of turning off TVs if they're on, the noises that are distracting, making that eye contact, getting down to eye level. And when you want me to do something and I have dementia, you have to break it down in steps. And I think one of the biggest gifts I have received from after doing this was a firefighter coming back in within an hour of going through the experience, he had a call and he came back in to share with us that he had had a call with somebody with dementia that had fallen, and how important from that experience it was for him to actually sit down on the floor next to her and not lean over her. And it ended up being, he was able to calm her down because they have to make quick assessments, and it's easier to assess somebody when they're calm, and he had the skills to calm her down from that experience. And he said it would've been a totally different call for him had he not just had that experience.

- Even just hearing you saying that makes me almost a little emotional that somebody just with this training that we're going to show you in this webinar, that someone can just change a few simple things in their interactions with somebody who's going through this to make all the difference in the world for that individual who's still there. They're still there. And we hear from people who have dementia that just wanna be treated like everybody else because they're doing the best that they can every single day. So I thank you so much for sharing that story with us. Susan, I think it's pretty obvious why this kind of training and this immersive experience is important, but can you explain maybe the profound effects that it has from the tree and the branches that extend from it that people can get from this?

- I think the biggest thing is it gives you tools to enhance the quality life of somebody living with dementia because it gives you that opportunity to not question some of their behaviors, because if we stop and think, none of us like to be questioned, what are you doing? Why are you doing that? And through this experience, you're gonna have understanding of why your loved one is standing in the kitchen with all the kitchen cabinet doors open and just standing there. Well, our normal reaction is, "What are you doing?" Well, they may not know what they're doing, and they may not even be aware that they've opened all the doors. So just interact as me as if my environment is normal. You could close cabinet doors later. You don't have to make it obvious that those things are going on. It's called living in their world. And hopefully with this experience, you'll learn to live in their world. And for those of you that have done this before, each time you do it, you learn something new, because it's very profound the first time you do it and you get an opportunity to look at it a little differently. I'll even share as often as I teach this class and also provide it in person in a community, which is a lot more in depth than the online version, I learn something and I take something away each time I do it that helps me be a little better at interacting with somebody living with dementia.

- I appreciate you mentioning that because we want everybody to join. And if you saw this or were a part of this webinar back in January, we invite you to come back, not only will we have the experience for you to go through one more time, but we will also have Susan available to answer your questions based on maybe the first time you didn't get your question in or you thought about it and some things happened since then, this is a great opportunity for new viewers and viewers from our January webinar about this immersive experience to come on and join us. Susan, it was an eye opener the first time for many people, I know it will be an eye opener once again second time around. And for our new viewers for this, thank you so much for taking the time to be with us, and of course, for sharing your knowledge about everything related to dementia.

- Thank you. I look forward to seeing everyone.

- Absolutely. And we look forward to seeing you on April 19th. Now, for those of you watching, if you wanna be a part of this immersive webinar, you certainly can. Just head on over to our website, You can register there. It is, of course, free. April 19th is the day. 4:00 PM Eastern is the time. We hope to see you then. Have a great day, everybody.


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