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Walking 12 minutes in their shoes

Anik Roy, Education Coordinator for the Alzheimer Society Canada, Renée Ragnitz of West Nipissing and Anick Grenier, RN with the WN Family Health Team, pose after Ragnitz completed her “12 minutes in Alzheimer’s dementia” at the SF Public Library Auditorium January 23.

by Brad Aubin

They didn’t walk a mile in the shoes of dementia sufferers, but they did experience 12 minutes of living with symptoms of the affliction, all in an effort to better understand what it’s like to have Alzheimer’s. It was during an exercise organized by the Alzheimer Society of Canada in West Nipissing Jan. 23, when participants went through “12 minutes in Alzheimer’s dementia,” an experimental simulation mimicking the physical and mental challenges of those living with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

Anik Roy, of the Alzheimer Society Sudbury and North Bay district, was at the WN Public Library boardroom to give attendees a firsthand look at the barriers a person with Alzheimer’s struggles with on a daily basis. Participants wore shoes with big pebbles inside to throw them off balance; wore big mittens or gloves to hamper their hand dexterity; put on giant goggles that altered their depth perception and eye sight; and finally, put on headphones to hear an ever looping cacophony of various instruments, shrieks and yells.

​Then, Roy gave out her instructions. With all this equipment on, participants had to fold socks and towels, write a letter, set a table, set up pills for the week – all daily tasks that are usually easy to accomplish when not hampered by these simulated impairments.

It was an awakening experience for all involved, putting the struggle of dementia sufferers into perspective. 

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