Living with Alzheimer’s disease can be frustrating and scary for everyone, including the youngest members of the family. Learning how to explain the complicated and various stages of the disease at an age appropriate level can help ease the confusion and fears of children who are not sure why grandma and grandpa are acting differently.
Fortunately, there are several great website full of expert advice and useful resources to help you explain Alzheimer’s disease to children including:
Alz.org (The Alzheimer’s Association)
Nia.nih.gov (Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral Center)
Of course, it is important to reassure children that Alzheimer’s disease is something that affects older people, not children. For example, just because a child forgot about a homework assignment or can’t remember where he put his sneakers doesn’t mean they have the disease too. And, even if mommy or daddy frequently forgets where the cars keys are or to pick up an extra carton of milk at the store, it doesn’t mean they have the disease either. Everyone forgets things once in a while and it happens to everyone.
Explaining that Alzheimer’s disease is a medical condition that permanently affects the brain is an essential point to convey. Children, especially young children, may believe that they are “coming down with it” whenever they forget something and as a result, experience fear and anxiety. Children also need to understand that the beloved family member who has Alzheimer’s disease will gradually find it more difficult to remember basic tasks and information, such as how to tie a shoe or their spouse’s name.
As difficult as it may be, try to help a child understand that even if their grandparent has trouble remembering the names and faces of family members, or details about their own lives, it doesn’t mean grandma or grandpa doesn’t still love everyone. Sever memory loss is a symptom of the disease and it can be a very sad time for everyone. Let children know that doctors and researchers are working hard toward finding a cure and have already found some medicines that can help.
If the time has come when you or a family member is no longer able to live independently, please contact ElderLink to discuss the options and learn about assisted living services and facilities throughout California. Working with a professional elder care service can help alleviate some of the stress of a difficult situation by providing assistance with customized elder care services.