Shakespeare said that old age is a return to childhood; without teeth, without voice… and in the case of Alzheimer’s patients, without memories. But if the elderly have to endure the drawbacks of childhood, shouldn’t they get some of the benefits too?
The Family Caregiver Alliance must have thought so too, because a few times a year they sponsor a weekend sleepover in Alamo, California called Camps for Caring. The program provides campers with an experience “of shared meals and stories, of activities creative and expressive, of exercise in the outdoors and of new friends and memories made over the weekend.” But the significance of the experience can go far beyond that.
According to a recent story about Camps for Caring on NPR Radio, although “campers typically don’t remember details of the retreat… the experience significantly lifts their mood.” In fact, “Post-camp surveys of family caregivers indicate that the ‘good feeling’ lingers, and it even can improve daily functioning.”
Beyond being a beneficial experience for the elderly attendees, Camps for Caring provides a much-needed break for overworked caregivers, who often attend to their elderly loved one around the clock, and can quickly find themselves dangerously close to the burnout breaking point.
Out of state residents may find it difficult to take advantage of the Camps for Caring program, but that doesn’t mean that caregivers or their elderly charges must leave themselves at the mercy of the effects of Alzheimer’s. In addition to information about Camps for Caring itself, the NPR article includes some tips from experts that can make dealing with Alzheimer’s easier on everyone. Or you can go to the Family Caregiver Alliance’s Family Care Navigator to find organizations and resources in your area.