Overland Park police officers experience the debilitating effects of dementia

A group of Overland Park police officers on Friday received a virtual lesson about living with dementia.

The officers donned glasses to blur their vision, thick gloves to hinder their dexterity, shoe inserts to make walking uncomfortable and earphones feeding them a disorienting cacophony of muffled voices and other sounds.

They were then instructed to perform a series of simple tasks.

“It was very eye-opening,” said Officer Debra Guieb. “It wasn’t easy.

The Virtual Dementia Tour training session was held at Morningside Place, a memory care facility in Overland Park.

The officers who took part in Friday’s exercise will share their experiences with fellow officers beginning next week. Overland Park plans to train all of its officers on how to better deal with people suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s.

With an aging population, officers can expect to have more encounters with people suffering dementia symptoms.

The number of people in Kansas diagnosed with the disease is expected to increase 21 percent by 2025.

“With Alzheimer’s soaring, first responders will be coming into ever more contact with people with the disease,” said Peggy Hackett, executive director of Morningside Place.

(Read more: KC Star Local News)