Virtual dementia tours in Columbus offer vital insight

May 15, 2009

Jan Swoope - [email protected]


On May 18-19, Community Counseling Services will provide an unprecedented "hands on" glimpse into the mental and physical obstacles faced by adults with dementia. Monday, from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., and Tuesday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., staff will offer virtual dementia tours to the public in two mobile crisis units at CCS, located at 1001 Main St.  


"These tours simulate what it''s like to have dementia -- to try to pick up things, to select things, to remember things, to focus; it simulates all this so you can actually experience some of the challenges somebody with dementia faces every day," said Lina Beall, Community Counseling Administrator for Lowndes County.  


The tours, provided free of charge, will better help family, friends, caregivers and health care workers understand what a day in the life of those affected is like. Dementia, a progressive decline in cognitive function most often seen in the geriatric population, currently affects one in 10 Americans over 65, shared Beall, of Columbus. 


"I''ve been through the tour twice, and both times I''ve learned something else about the challenges -- and about myself," Beall said. The administrator, who describes the tour as a "pretty intense experience," also recommends it for anyone in the baby boomer generation. "It certainly gives us insight at what we may be looking at down the road." 


The addition of the recently-acquired mobile training or crisis units is being greeted with enthusiasm at CCS. When called on, the staff responds to disasters or crises in a seven-county area including Lowndes, Clay, Choctaw, Oktibbeha, Noxubee, Webster and Winston counties. Often, there is no place available at the actual crisis site to meet with individuals who need immediate one-on-one attention from a counselor or therapist. The units will enable CCS to better provide mental health services, stressed Beall.  


For more information about the virtual dementia tours, contact Beall at 662-328-9225.

Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.