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Virtual dementia simulates Alzheimer's symptoms

  • The number of people dealing with Alzheimer’s could triple by 2050
  • 5.4 million people have Alzheimer’s & 15 million are caregivers
  • Expert: Virtual dementia helps caretakers understand patients

Editor’s note: Bill Dobilas is a segment producer for Raising America. As research for a segment on Alzheimer’s, he tested out new technology that replicates the feeling of having the disease. He talks about the impact it made on his life. Please also note that the Second Wind Dreams technology recommends "you only take the tour with the supervision of a certified trainer who will help you through the experience and to not try this at home." Click here to find a trainer near you. 

Who knew?

A pair of goggles, two pairs of gloves, some headphones and a couple of shoe inserts could change you and your life.

I don’t have anyone in my family diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia. My grandparents have been forgetful at times but we’ve escaped the disease. We are lucky.

Right now, there are about 5 million people in the U.S. with Alzheimer’s, but by 2050, nearly 14 million people could be affected. There’s no cure. If it’s caught early enough, medication can stall the disease.

So what was it about the goggles, the gloves, the headphones, and the shoe inserts that made me think a little differently? Well, that’s where P.K. Beville comes in. She’s the founder of Second Wind Dreams. It’s a non-profit organization that helps fulfill the dreams of the elderly.

P.K. has worked with the elderly for 30 years. While getting her doctorate, she developed the Virtual Dementia Tour. The kit helps simulate what it’s like for someone with a moderate form of dementia.

I admit being skeptical; the funky glasses, a dark room. Being a semi-intelligent guy, I figured I’d handle the 5 tasks given to me pretty quickly. That wasn’t the case.

Five seconds after walking into the room, I was a total wreck. I couldn’t remember all of the tasks and tried to focus on one at a time. That’s not possible with just the simple sounds in your head set. They weren’t loud; a siren, dishes clattering, a dog barking. It was just things you’d hear around the house.

I was disoriented. I was freaked out. I am changed forever.

Check out the video. No acting. It really was amazing.


Watch Raising America every week day at 12 p.m. ET on HLN. And be sure to tweet @KyraHLN with the #RaisingAmerica hashtag or leave your thoughts on


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