Oklahoma Alzheimer's Camp Aimed At Young Caregivers

Wednesday, July 22nd 2009, 4:29 pm
By: News On 6

By Craig Day, The News On 6

UNDATED -- The Alzheimer's Association estimates there are 250,000 kids aged 8 to 18 across the country who are in a care giving role for someone with the disease.  That statistic prompted a one of a kind camp taking place this week here in Green Country.

The camp takes place at Camp Takatoka, located between Wagoner and Chouteau to find out more. At first glance, it looks like any summer camp. The kids are having fun with a team building exercise.

But this camp is the only one of its kind in the nation.

"From shortest to tallest," said a camp counselor. "Shortest on this side; tallest on this side."

"For the adults, the Alzheimer's Association has support groups, they have conferences, they have seminars - and there is nothing to help the kids get through this," said Tracy Mobley, dementia patient.

That is until this camp came along. It's designed for teens who are caregivers of loved ones with Alzheimer's or dementia.

At 38, Tracy Mobley developed a form of dementia which causes memory loss and disorientation. It's been difficult on her 14-year-old son Austin.

"It's pretty hard, there is a lot of stress," said Austin Mobley, camper.  "Every day is a new challenge, a brand new ballgame sort of."

Fun activities at the camp are interspersed with lessons and tips on understanding and coping with the disease.

Another one of the campers, Jessica Laws, is a caregiver for her grandfather, an Alzheimer's patient.

He has lived with her family for five years.

"It's very stressful," said Jessica Laws.  "It's very hard, because you have to be with this person constantly. You can't leave them in a room by themselves."

At the camp, the kids also get a break from the responsibilities of being a caregiver. It's hoped they leave with newfound skills, friendships, and a sense they're not going through such a difficult challenge alone.

"We understand each other; we see where everybody is coming from," Jessica Laws said.

This is the second year for the camp. It's hoped once word spreads of its success, similar camps can be held at several locations nationwide.