Helping Children and Teens Understand Alzheimer's

 

For the sandwich generation that finds themselves caring for both children and parents, there are many challenges to the balancing act. One of those challenges may be helping younger grandchildren or great-grandchildren understand Alzheimer’s disease and navigate the changes they are seeing in their family as well. While it may be disorienting as adult children, it can be even more difficult to understand as a young child. Children may have lots of important questions such as, “Why doesn’t grandma remember me?”, “Did I cause this to happen?”, “Can I get Alzheimer’s? “, or “When will grandpa get better?” Talking through these questions and initiating candid conversations are crucial to shaping their understanding and helping them cope with the loss. Here are a couple tailored resources we’ve found to help younger family members navigate the disease.

Books to Teach Children About Alzheimer’s

We have often turned to stories to deal with some of life’s most difficult topics. The New Old Age, a blog by the New York Times, highlights a few children’s books that beautifully tackle the dynamics and changes of Alzheimer’s disease from a perspective that children will understand.

The Alzheimer’s Project

HBO has created a series of short documentary films called, The Alzheimer’s Project. These films highlight important innovations in research and show the effects of the disease on individuals with the disease and their families. Maria Shriver hosts a special film called, “Grandpa, Do You Know Who I Am?”, that is tailored to help children understand and cope with a loved one who has Alzheimer’s disease. It follows the story of 5 children ages 6-15 who are dealing with a loved one who has Alzheimer’s disease. Maria shares her own story, provides important lessons to teach children in the experience, and highlights how her own children had something to teacher her as well.

The Alzheimer’s Association: Kids & Teens Section:

The Alzheimer’s Association is a fantastic resource for all ages. Their section specifically for kids and teens is chalked full of videos and resources on understanding the disease, what they can do to help, knowing it is not their fault, and navigating the many changes they may experience.  

How to Tell You Kids About a Grandparent’s Alzheimer’s Disease

Paula Spencer Scott, senior editor of Caring.com, shares a step by step guide by Joyce Simard, a geriatric consultant, on how to tell children their loved one has Alzheimer’s and focus on what they need to know.

Published on November 21, 2012.