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updated: 11/2/2012 9:24 PM

Autumn Leaves offers 'Through the Alzheimer's Looking Glass'

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Lauren Witt

The brand new Autumn Leaves of St. Charles is opening its doors to the public to give families, caregivers and the community a chance to experience what it feels like to have Alzheimer's or dementia. The special free event, called "Through the Alzheimer's Looking Glass," will take place on Nov. 16 starting at 10 a.m. at Autumn Leaves of St. Charles, 10 N. Peck Road.

The in-depth, interactive activity will involve a series of sensory deficits to simulate a loss of cognitive function. At similar Autumn Leaves events, participants have left saying, "Now I get it. I see what it feels like." Right now, 210,000 people in Illinois are living with Alzheimer's, and this exercise will give family members and caregivers a better understanding of what their loved ones experience.

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"When I went through the Virtual Dementia Experience, I found it frustrating and

unsettling," said Anna Morgese, community relations director, Autumn Leaves of St.

Charles. "The activity reaffirmed the importance of compassion and the need to

actively engage loved ones living with Alzheimer's and dementia. It is important to

create moments of joy for them, and to find a way to connect."

Participants who go through the Virtual Dementia Experience will wear different items over their hands, feet, ears and eyes, and then they will have to perform a list of tasks in a particular order in a dark room. Afterwards, memory care experts will discuss the exercise with participants. The event includes a free buffet lunch.

"All of our employees have gone through the Virtual Dementia Experience, and it truly offers a new perspective," said Brad Jacobsen, regional sales director, Constant Care Family Management, the property management company for Autumn Leaves memory care communities. "We hope that families leave this event with a physical understanding that they cannot easily achieve without diminishing their senses."

The event will include two virtual dementia sessions, and Jane Anderson, the co-founder of Autumn Leaves, will provide a moving educational presentation called Innovative Communication Techniques for Caregivers. The interactive session will include a thorough discussion about what happens to the senses when an individual has Alzheimer's, and will include ways to interact with loved ones despite their diminished senses.

"The first time I heard Jane Anderson speak, I was so touched that I started to cry," said Morgese. "She has a true vision, and she is extremely passionate about providing dignity and quality of life to families living with Alzheimer's and dementia."

Schedule of Events:

10 a.m. -- 12 p.m. Virtual Dementia Experience

12 p.m. -- 1:30 p.m. Complimentary Lunch and Educational Presentation by Jane Anderson, Co-Founder of Autumn Leaves

1:30 p.m. -- 3:30 p.m. Virtual Dementia Experience

To R.S.V.P. or for more information about the event, call Anna Morgese at (630) 777-0712.

ABOUT AUTUMN LEAVES

Family owned and operated, Autumn Leaves communities combine a warm, home-like environment with the highest quality memory care available. Specialized in every aspect, Autumn Leaves memory care residences are focused on meeting residents' emotional, physical, social and nutritional needs in a home-like environment. With Autumn Leaves communities open or under construction in Houston, Dallas/Fort Worth, Chicagoland, Tulsa, and Atlanta, we are growing at a smart, steady pace. For more information on Autumn Leaves of St. Charles, visit our website at AutumnLeaves.com or call 888-598-2375.

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