While many Canadians have experienced the pain of having a loved one diagnosed with dementia, few can really comprehend what those living with the disease are going through.

Now, a new multimedia exhibit in downtown Toronto is trying to change that, by giving the public a chance to experience what it feels like to have dementia.

“It can be difficult to really understand the world from their point of view,” Research Assistant Aleksis Penna told CTV Toronto. “We want to try to help people to see from their perspective.”

To try and achieve this, researchers from Ryerson University’s School of Nursing have partnered with four of the school’s art students to create the exhibit, titled EMBODY – Experiencing Dementia Through New Media.

It’s the third phase of an ongoing study, which hopes to explore ways to predict episodes of agitation in patients with dementia, as well as other behavioural and psychological symptoms.

The exhibit includes art pieces that try to show the experience of a person living with dementia, exploring themes like agitation that were commonly found in the first stages of the study.

The exhibit looks to visualize the themes and findings researchers have found, effectively communicating knowledge about the struggles those living with dementia experience to the public.

Akos Katona’s photography is one of the elements of the exhibit, visualizing the differences between a person’s outward appearance and how they feel inside.

“You see someone, but you don’t know how they feel, or what they’re struggling with inside,” said Katona.

His photographs feature a colour image of a person, showing their initial appearance, with a black and white photo overlaid that shows the inner feelings of a person with dementia.

“I asked the actors to sit down and just do a natural pose.” Katona said, “and then I would ask them to demonstrate how they would be fidgeting, frustrated, or any of the symptoms of dementia.”

The exhibit also features a 360 degree virtual reality video, which gives viewers a look at a “day in the life” scenario of a person living with dementia, and how they may act when agitated.

“We tried to create different experiences,” said video creator Keenan Mathura. “It allows us to highlight these certain areas through their own eyes.”

Organizers hope that exhibit audiences will participate in the current stage of the study, which hopes to examine whether the artwork is effective in transferring knowledge about the study.

The exhibit is open to the public free of charge, and runs until Friday November 9.

With a report from CTV Toronto’s Pauline Chan