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Classroom Interactive Dementia Simulation: Strengthening AGPCNP Students’ Knowledge of Dementia Through Sensory Simulation

Purpose: As an adult-gerontological primary care nurse practitioner (AGPCNP) student develops their knowledge, consideration is needed with working with older adults, including patients with dementia. Because dementia is a general term, symptoms and experiences can vary including sensory and cognitive impairments. Encountering a patient with dementia in the clinic setting can influence how AGPCNPs will provide care.

The purpose of this simulation was to give AGPCNP students the opportunity to experience firsthand the struggles a person with dementia might be facing, familiarize themselves with dementia's manifestations from the patient's viewpoint in a classroom environment, and develop empathy for the patients in their care.

Description: AGPCNP students experience an in-class interactive dementia simulation. Students are asked to put on dark sunglasses to dim clear sight and peripheral vision and thick gloves and shoe inserts simulating decreased tactile and visual senses. Students entered a dark room prepared by instructors with a loud audio overload, including traffic sounds, music, and visual effects of flashing lights.

Students were performing a series of tasks, placing pills in pill boxes, and drawing face of clock numbers and time.

Evaluation/outcome: Once the simulation was over for all students, they were asked to give feedback. Comments from students included, “It was so much fun and allowed us to really put ourselves in the patient’s shoes.” “This was a great activity for perception! And an overall fun activity to break up the monotony of lecture! Should be a staple in the course.” The student feedback was positive, desiring that this simulation be repeated future courses.

Conclusion: Meeting the required AGPCNP competencies for student education and providing multiple learning experiences for AGPCNP students can be challenging at times. The activity took only a few minutes of class time, but it was a great learning experience.


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