Talking to your kids about Alzheimer’s disease

Talking to your kids about Alzheimer’s disease

Posted on April 29, 2014 by ECR Louisville in Blog

Seeing an grandparent in Alzheimer care can be difficult for children and teens to understand but there are ways you can help.

Seeing an grandparent in Alzheimer care can be difficult for children and teens to understand, but there are ways you can help. The Alzheimer’s Association created a parent’s guide for talking about Alzheimer’s disease.

It’s important to keep communication open and honest so your child is comfortable talking about how they are feeling. Let them ask questions then explain answers to them using age-appropriate language. The Alzheimer’s Association recommends discussing the disease and symptoms as early into the illness as possible. Children often wonder if they can contract the disease, or worry that someone else they know will become ill. The brochure suggests telling your child that scientific research is evolving so improved treatments will likely be available by the time they are adults.

In lieu of engaging in the discussion, children may fight more with family members, withdraw, struggle in school or complain of physical pain such as headaches or stomachaches.

Teenagers are more likely to experience embarrassment, particularly if their grandparent is acting out when friends are over. Mark Fieldson​, from the Los Alamitos, California John Douglas French Center for Alzheimer’s Disease, said it’s best to acknowledge how your teenager is feeling and perhaps offer to keep the grandparent busy when peers are at the house.

Regardless if your children are feeling sad, angry, guilty or frustrated, assure them that their feelings are normal. Seeing a loved one endure the declining effects of Alzheimer’s is emotional, and it’s totally fine to express how they feel. If they don’t want to share with you, try reaching out to a teacher, school counselor or another adult they trust.

Finally, remind your child that their grandparent still loves them! It can be painful when their grandparent doesn’t recognize them or know their name, but it’s important to understand it isn’t personal and doesn’t mean grandma doesn’t care.

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