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Alzheimer's: helping children understand the disease



The observation of a loved one through the stages of Alzheimer's disease may be frightening even to adults. Imagine being a child trying to understand why Grandma is acting so strangely or can not remember who you are. Know how to explain Alzheimer's to your child and give him comfort.

Anticipate your child's questions.

If your child asks questions, answer with simple, honest answers. For example:

  • What's up with grandma? Explain that Alzheimer's is a disease. As children get colds and abdominal pain, older people sometimes get sick with a disease that causes them to behave differently and forget things. They may look the same from the outside, but their brains change from the inside.
  • Does grandpa no longer love me? If the person suffering from Alzheimer's no longer recognizes your child, they may have declined feeling. Remind your child that the illness makes it difficult for your loved one to remember things – but your child is still an important part of that person's life.
  • Is it my fault? If the Person Suffering from Alzheimer's Charges Your Child In the event of some misconduct – for example, laying a handbag or a key – your child may feel responsible. Explain to your child that it is not your fault.
  • Will other family members get Alzheimer's? Assure your child that Alzheimer's disease is not contagious. You could explain to an older child that just because a relative has Alzheimer's does not mean that he or she or other family members will get the disease.
  • What will happen next? If it is you If you care about the person with Alzheimer's at home, prepare your child for the routine changes. Explain to your child that your loved ones will have good and bad days. Make sure your child is loved – no matter what the future holds.

If your child has difficulty discussing the situation or withdrawing from your loved one, open the conversation. Ask what changes your child has noticed in the loved one with Alzheimer's disease. The observations of your child can naturally lead you to explore your own feelings and concerns. Tell your child that it's OK to feel nervous, sad or angry. Maybe you share it even if you sometimes feel that way.

To improve your child's Alzheimer's knowledge, read age-appropriate books about the disease or use other educational resources.

Be prepared for the emotional expression. [19659017] Your child can express his feelings in an indirect way. For example, he or she may complain of headaches or other physical problems. Your child's attention to schoolwork could start to slip. If you look after your loved one in your home, your child might be reluctant to invite friends into the house – or looking for ways to spend time outside their home.

If you notice these behaviors Carefully show what you have observed – and give your child comfort and support. Listen to your child's concerns and help your child feel secure in sharing his feelings with others.

Stay with it.

In order for your child to stay in touch with the person with Alzheimer's, both engage in familiar activities such as putting the table together. Joint leisure is also important. Even young children can stay in touch with a loved one suffering from Alzheimer's disease by leafing through photo albums, listening to music or performing other simple activities together.

When your child becomes impatient with your loved one, remind your child that the behavior is not so intentional – it is a consequence of the disease. Concentrate on how to show your loved one how much you love her. Even if your relative forgets your child's name, he or she may still feel love and kindness.

Updated: 27.05.2015

Release date: 1999-06-24


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