TULSA — Late last week, 18-month-old twins exited their home and found their way to the family’s swimming pool in a neighborhood on the northwest side of Oklahoma City.
Both children drowned, and the investigation has uncovered the possibility that an elderly relative in the home left a door open, which may have led to that tragedy.
That relative, it appears, suffers from Alzheimer’s Disease.
That family, like tens of thousands across Oklahoma, may have had few alternatives in caring for their loved one with that terrible form of dementia.
In its most recent “Facts and Figures” report, the association reports the state had only 26 geriatricians as of 2021.
It’s estimated there are 67,000 Alzheimer’s patients in Oklahoma.
It has increasingly become up to families to care for their own, and that brings risks for those caregivers.
Before the story about the OKC tragedy became public, KRMG spoke with Alzheimer’s Association of Oklahoma Communications Director Maggie Gaskins about the organization’s recent report.
“It is not uncommon for the caregiver to pass away before the person living with Alzheimer’s,” Gaskins told KRMG last Thursday. “It is incredibly stressful, and it can be very lonely. It’s very isolating.”
“They’re so focused on caring for their loved one,” she continued, “that their health and well-being falls by the wayside.”
The Alzheimer’s Association has a helpline available around the clock, at 800-272-3900.
There is never any charge for the many services the association offers.
You can read the full “Facts and Figures” report here.
You can visit the Oklahoma chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association here.