According to the Alzheimer’s Association, in 2015 there are over 5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease. In addition to the individuals directly suffering from the condition, millions more are affected through roles as caretakers and family members. What can you do to help your child if a beloved family member, such as a grandparent, is changing and forgetting right before their eyes?
The National Institute on Aging (NIA) suggests that your approach be tailored to your child’s age. A teenager, who has known their grandparent for many years, may have a hard time coping, and may not want to spend much time with their grandparent. The NIA recommends that you respect this and do not force interactions. With a young child, answering their questions simply and clearly and suggesting activities that the elder and younger can still enjoy together (looking at photo albums, doing simple crafts, singing out loud) is suggested.
If the family member with Alzheimer’s is living with you and your family, the stress may impact your children, even if they don’t articulate how they are feeling. This may manifest in problems at school. If this happens, enlisting the support of the school counselor is recommended by the NIA, and arranging activities for your children outside the house, with friends or other family members is also helpful.
Helping Children Understand Alzheimer’s
The Alzheimer’s Association local resources and support groups
For Further Reading
Some books available at the Central Rappahannock Regional Library
What's Happening to Grandpa? by Maria Shriver
The Memory Box by Mary Bahr (e-book)
Still My Grandma by Vronique Van den Abeele