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Murrieta police don glasses, gloves to learn what it’s like to have dementia

Counting coins and putting them into a small purse should have been a simple task for Murrieta Police Capt. Rob Firmes.
But it proved difficult after he donned thick gloves and foggy glasses aimed at simulating what it feels like to have dementia .
“It’s disorienting,” Firmes said. “Big time.”
Murrieta police Capt. Rob Firmes and officers Chad Staat and Jennifer Metoyer wear blurry glasses, thick gloves, uncomfortable shoe inserts and other devices to simulate the sensory effects of dementia at Vineyard Place in Murrieta on Wednesday, May 16.
(Photo by Frank Bellino, contributing photographer)
Murrieta police Officer Jennifer Metoyer wears blurry glasses, thick gloves, uncomfortable shoe inserts on Wednesday, May 16, to simulate what it’s like to have dementia.
(Photo by Frank Bellino, contributing photographer)
Sound The gallery will resume in seconds Murrieta police Officer Jennifer Metoyer wears blurry glasses, thick gloves and other devices to simulate what it is like to have dementia during an exercise at Vineyard Place in Murrieta on Wednesday, May 16.
(Photo by Frank Bellino, contributing photographer)
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Alongside officers Jennifer Metoyer and Chad Staat, Firmes visited Vineyard Place in Murrieta on Wednesday, May 16, to take part in a virtual dementia exercise. The goal was to help them understand how to interact with those who have dementia, or a decline in mental abilities that interrupts someone’s daily life.
The law enforcement officers also were asked to count out 17 cents and place it into a coin purse.
Firmes said the memory-care facility asked if he and the department wanted to participate. His grandmother, who suffers from dementia, lives at the home.
Each officer was outfitted with thick gloves to simulate arthritis and loss of mobility. They also received rough-to-the-touch insoles for their shoes that gave them a sense of how the numbness and tingling associated with neuropathy feels.
To make things more difficult, officers were given headphones that produced distracting sounds and thick glasses to simulate poor vision.
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A few minutes later, the group entered a dark room and tried to do simple things such as folding laundry, setting a table and grabbing individual pills.
The law officers also were asked to count out 17 cents and place it in a coin purse.
“Hearing the voices in my head constantly was just throwing me off because I wanted to be able to concentrate,” Metoyer said.
The hardest chore for Metoyer was setting the table, she said. Slowed down by the thick gloves, she struggled to separate plates and find the right utensils.
She said the experience helped teach her to slow things down if she encounters someone with the disease.
“Even if you’re on a noisy street corner, take them inside of a building (or) take them somewhere where there is less distraction,” she said.
Firmes also felt challenged.
“It was really hard to see almost anything up close or far away,” he said.
Asked if the experience made him better understand how his grandmother felt, Firmes replied, “Absolutely.”
Jodi Cornman, community relations director for Highline Place in Denver, led the training. Highline Place and Vineyard Place share the same parent company, Anthem Memory Care.
She said the best things to do when interacting with loved ones suffering from dementia are to quiet the surroundings and give them tasks one at a time.
“We’re very quick in our environment — get things done,” Cornman said. “You can’t do that with someone with memory loss.”
ABOUT DEMENTIA
What is dementia?  A broad term for a decline in mental abilities that interrupts someone’s daily life.
How is it related to Alzheimer’s? Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia. Nearly 6 million Americans have it.
What are the symptoms? Someone with dementia has at least two of the following functions severely affected: memory, communication and language, ability to focus and pay attention, reasoning and judgment and visual perception.
How is it treated?   No treatments can slow down progressive dementias such as Alzheimer’s, but drugs can temporarily relieve symptoms.
Source: Alzheimer’s Association

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