VDT Intergenerational Programming

On May 18 th had the privilege of speaking at Concordia Lutheran High School in front of an Advanced Placement Psychology class. When asked to do this my first thought was, how can we engage a high school psychology class to want to learn about dementia and Alzheimer’s? We could put together a slide show with statistics and theories and speculations. Or we could put them through Virtual Dementia Training (VDT). Which is exactly what we did!

We had two students volunteer to go through the training while the rest of the class got to observe. I was so impressed with how attentive and engaged the class was. How well they immersed themselves in the VDT, and how inquisitive they were during the debriefing of the training! This from a class that consisted of both juniors and seniors.

Since it was a psychology class, they had learned about brain function and diseases of the brain all semester long. This really helped give the students a base understanding of the brain anatomy which is affected by Alzheimer’s and dementia. We talked about the areas of the brain that are typically destroyed due to Alzheimer’s or dementia and their connections to parts of the brain involved in memory. When we asked the class to raise their hand if they had a loved one or knew of someone who had Alzheimer’s nearly everyone in the class raised their hand. It is clear that Alzheimer’s and dementia affect our younger population. I love the opportunity to educate the community and especially the youth of our community. The more we can educate people, the more awareness we can bring to this disease and hopefully one day find a cure. This type of generational awareness not only supports funding and better care giving but also promotes intergenerational interaction.

There are many benefits with intergenerational programming. And while this class didn’t interact directly with our residents, they benefited by understanding what our residents with Alzheimer’s live through on a day-to-day basis. Intergenerational programming also helps reduce the stigma associated with aging, while also supporting youth development.

We had a great open discussion towards the end of our program and one of the first questions I got was “how do we prevent ourselves from getting Alzheimer’s?” This of course is a very hard question to answer as there are no sure ways to prevent it. We talked about theories that are said to help such as diet, and exercise, and brain exercise such as reading and continuing to learn new things.

I think one of the most touching questions they asked us was “how can we better
support our elders who have Alzheimer’s?” We of course suggested to learn more about the disease, give them grace and respect, and create moments of joy with them.

Here are North Woods Village we have certified staff that are trained to instruct VDT. Please feel free to ask us about this training or schedule a time to go through the training yourself. As always, we look forward to partnering with and educating our community, whether that be a high school psychology class or anyone who may be connected to those living with Alzheimer’s or those caring for someone with Alzheimer’s.