We encourage visitors of people living with dementia to reorient their reality in order to create more meaningful interactions.
Erica Jewell, Yali Jin, and Nick Forrester and I spent weeks visiting people living with dementia and speaking with visitors, family members, and healthcare experts in order to understand the difficulties of interactions with people with dementia. We found that getting to the visit itself creates anxiety. Dementia is difficult, and stepping into the surreal world is not easy. We aimed to redesign the visitor by providing tools to create positive visits.
We propose that rather than bringing a person who has dementia into collective “reality,” visitors should work towards reorienting their own realities by trying to understand the current, sometimes surreal world of the person with dementia. Through reality reorientation, visitors can feel prepared to see their loved one with fresh eyes and open arms. This method is embodied in a website that presents a guided audio to prepare and motivate visitors before a visit, an improv workshop both as a form of therapy and learning best practice in interactions, and a story sharing platform to allow visitors to decompress with the lighter side of dementia. The website also hosts research on the method and a speculative film revealing the story of one man whose mother is living with dementia and his approach to interactions with her. For more information, take a look at realityreorientation.com.