Explaining Alzheimer's to Children

For an elder caregiver, the behavioral and personality changes associated with Alzheimer’s disease are to be expected, but for a child, they can be alarming. When a loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and is receiving elder care near Memphis, it may be time to consider how to explain these changes to your children in a way that won’t frighten them. Children are remarkably resilient, but they often fear the unknown. Explaining the basics of dementia may be the most effective way to reassure your kids that the changes grandma or grandpa is experiencing are caused by a medical condition. alzheimer - disease

Find out what your child knows about the disease.

Your child might already have a vague idea of what Alzheimer’s is, depending on his or her age. Consider starting the discussion by asking your child if he or she has heard of Alzheimer’s before, and if so, what your child knows about it. This gives you an opportunity to correct misconceptions and fill in the gaps in your child’s knowledge of the disease.

Explain how Alzheimer’s affects your loved one.

Let your child know that grandma or grandpa has been receiving assisted living services because he or she has Alzheimer’s disease and needs some extra help around the house. Reassure your child that Alzheimer’s disease does not spread from one person to the next, that it progresses very slowly, and that the family still has lots of time to enjoy grandma or grandpa’s company. Point to specific examples of how Alzheimer’s has affected your loved one. You might explain that the disease is why the grandparent keeps forgetting your child’s name, for example, or sometimes talks about things that don’t exist. Reassure your child that it’s the disease that is causing these changes, not something that your child did wrong.

Encourage your child to ask questions and share feelings.

Let your child know that it’s okay to feel sad and that you feel sad, too. Tell him or her that you always welcome your child’s questions and that you’d like it if he or she would share feelings about the situation. Moving forward, encourage your child to continue to enjoy spending time with your aging loved one.