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The original item was published from 4/3/2013 9:14:00 AM to 2/1/2014 12:05:07 AM.

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Posted on: January 31, 2013



On Thursday, January 31, 2013, Hidalgo County in collaboration with Texas A&M Colonias Program held their first "Virtual Dementia Tour." Organizers of this event described it as an opportunity to help individuals understand how a person diagnosed with dementia experiences the world. It allowed participants to put themselves in the shoes of the individual to understand and relate to the distress dementia patients experience with normal everyday tasks. Maria De Los Angeles Hernandez, a participant at this tour, described her experience: "era dificil entender, ellos viven en otro mundo, en la oscuridad" (it was very difficult to understand, they live in another world, in total darkness). With clouded goggles, gloves with beans inside, soles with sharp studs, and earphones, the activities intended to alter sight, hearing, feeling, and muscle movements. The experience aimed to mimic some of the conditions that individuals with dementia might be experiencing in their daily lives. Tasks included setting up a table, pouring a glass of water, folding towels and even taking medication. Rosa Garcia, whose mother and grandmother suffer from some of these conditions said the activities were very useful for her, as she now had a better understanding of what her family members go through. "Me senti desesperada, como si tuviera piedras en los pies" (I felt desperate, like I had rocks in my feet). Mary Leal, a program coordinator for Texas A&M Colonias Program who helped organize this event, said, "When you feel what they feel, it's different, you learn to understand." Leal added that the organization hopes to continue providing this tour at least once a year. This event was held at the Precinct 2 Alamo Community Resource Center in Alamo, Texas. Precinct 2 employees of Hidalgo County were among the volunteers.

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