Explaining the problems associated with Alzheimer's to Children and Teenagers can be difficult at times, but the Alzheimer's association has done a wonderful job in writing and producing these two documents, which can help, others explain the problems we struggle with on a daily basis.
Just for Children: Helping You Understand Alzheimer’s Disease (2 pages)
This fact sheet will help you understand what is happening to a person with Alzheimer’s disease. It also explores how challenging it is to take care of someone who has Alzheimer’s. It includes puzzles and activities.
Just for Teens: Helping You Understand Alzheimer’s Disease
This fact sheet will help you understand what is happening to a person with Alzheimer’s disease. It also explores how challenging it is to take care of someone who has Alzheimer’s.
My Grandchildren thing I have Old Timers, and while they know about the title, they don't understand the rest of it, and these documents would help my daughter and others greatly, when they try to explain the illness in more detail.
The Mayo Clinic also has a sheet on this topic which can be very useful to those who need advise on what to say and do when a member of the family has the illness and this to would be helpful to anyone who has children and needs answers to possible questions
Alzheimer's: Helping children understand the disease
Alzheimer's affects everyone in the family — including the kids. Reassure your child with simple, honest explanations of the disease.
By Mayo Clinic staff
Watching a loved one progress through the stages of Alzheimer's disease can be frightening, even for adults. Imagine being a child struggling to understand why grandma is acting so strangely or can't remember who you are. You can help by offering comfort and support when needed.
Anticipate your child's questions
When your child asks questions, respond with simple, honest answers. For example:
· What's wrong with grandma? Explain that Alzheimer's is a disease. Just as children get colds and tummy aches, older adults sometimes get an illness that causes them to act differently and to forget things. They might look the same on the outside, but their brains are changing on the inside.
· Doesn't grandpa love me anymore? If the person who has Alzheimer's disease no longer recognizes your child, he or she might feel rejected. Remind your child that the disease makes it hard for your loved one to remember things — but your child is still an important part of the person's life.
· Is it my fault? If the person who has Alzheimer's accuses your child of some wrongdoing — such as misplacing a purse or keys — your child might feel responsible. Explain to your child that he or she isn't to blame.
· Will you get Alzheimer's? Reassure your child that Alzheimer's disease isn't contagious. Most people don't get Alzheimer's.
· What will happen next? If you'll be caring for the person who has Alzheimer's in your home, prepare your child for the changes in routine. Explain to your child that your loved one will have good days and bad days. Reassure your child that he or she is loved — no matter what the future holds.
If your child has trouble talking about the situation or withdraws from your loved one, open the conversation. Ask what changes your child has noticed in the loved one who has Alzheimer's disease. Your child's observations might lead naturally to an exploration of his or her own feelings and worries. Tell your child it's OK to feel nervous, sad or angry. You feel that way sometimes, too.
To boost your child's understanding of Alzheimer's, read age-appropriate books on the disease or take advantage of other educational resources.
Be prepared for emotional expression
Your child might express his or her emotions in seemingly indirect ways. For example, he or she might complain of headaches or other physical issues. Your child's attention to schoolwork might begin to slide. If you're caring for your loved one in your home, your child might be reluctant to invite friends to the house — or he or she might look for ways to spend time away from home.
If you notice these types of behaviour’s, gently point out what you've observed — and offer your child comfort and support. Listen to your child's concerns, and help your child feel safe in sharing his or her feelings.
To help your child stay connected to the person who has Alzheimer's, involve both of them in familiar activities — such as setting the table together. Shared leisure time is important, too. Even young children can stay connected with a loved one who has Alzheimer's by paging through photo albums, listening to music or doing other simple activities together.
If your child becomes impatient with your loved one, remind your child that the behaviour isn't intentional — it's a result of the disease. Together, focus on finding ways to show your loved one how much you love him or her. Even if your loved one forgets your child's name, he or she can still feel love and kindness.
Good luck and I hope this helps