Helping Your Child Understand Alzheimer’s Disease

Nov 21 • 2014
Helping Your Child Understand Alzheimer’s Disease

When a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, it can be difficult for people of all ages to comprehend. For children, it can be even harder to come to terms with this illness and they will likely have many questions. Every child will react differently, but there are some simple things you can do to help him or her understand.

Knowing how to answer tough questions from your son or daughter is the first important step. It is important to be aware of the things they may be feeling so you can be prepared to address their concerns. Explain that Alzheimer’s is a sickness like a cold and that it may cause the person who has it to act differently. Remind them that although it may be hard for their loved one to remember who they are, it does not mean they are loved any less. Some children may worry that they will get Alzheimer’s next or fear that it is contagious. Reassure them that it is not and explain to your child what the future will hold for the loved one dealing with this disease. Prepare your child for the future by noting that although the routine may change, they will always be loved by that person. If additional questions arise, check out your local library for age-appropriate books on the topic.

Emotional reaction is very common for children struggling to understand the impact Alzheimer’s has on their loved ones. It is important to be aware of unusual reactions, like struggling in school, wanting to be away from home more often, or being reluctant to invite friends over if your family is the caregiver for someone with Alzheimer’s. Ask your child how he or she is feeling, point out the changes you have noticed, and offer support.

Keeping a connection between your child and the person who has Alzheimer’s is an important step for both parties. Whether it is simply continuing to take part in shared routines or relaxing together, maintaining that interaction is a great way to keep the relationship strong. Focus on the fact that showing your loved one how much he or she means to your child is important even if they have forgotten your child’s name. Assure your son or daughter that any odd behaviors are not intentional and encourage them to be patient.

The Baptist Memory Care Center offers support services for guests and caregivers to assist with the emotional and everyday life changes that come with Alzheimer’s or dementia.