If you are a family caregiver for someone with Alzheimer’s disease (AD), whether your loved one is in the advanced stages or has early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, explaining such a complicated disorder to children in the family may be a real challenge.
Here are some tips to help family members talk to kids in simple and easy to understand language.
Explain the disease to kids in a manner they can relate to. Use simple terms such as: “Grandpa has trouble with his memory.” Try using an analogy kids can understand and remember to keep your emotions at bay when talking to kids about AD.
Children and young people take cues from adults when it comes to interpreting how severe a situation is. Stay calm and lead by example. Show kids that although grandma has memory problems, she can still engage in many enjoyable family activities such as looking at old photograph albums and reminiscing on past experiences.
If there are safety issues that need to be implemented such as a risk of wandering, explain the risk in a matter of fact way and if children are old enough, enlist their help in employing safety measures-such as locking gates and doors behind them.
Answer children’s questions in a matter-of-fact way, but be sure to support any normal feelings of sadness or anger your children may exhibit as a result of the loss experienced when it comes to the change in the way he/she now relates to the family member with AD. Depending on the child’s age, his/her normal developmental stage may result in blaming himself/herself. Be sure to reiterate that the child did NOT do anything to cause the disease.
Avoid asking teenagers to “babysit” for your loved one with AD. It’s very important for young people in the family to continue making time for friends and healthy interests.
Spend as much 1:1 time as possible with children and teens in the family to avoid feelings of resentment from being left out or neglected. This is one example where caregivers could benefit from asking for help from others or employing respite care to allow for more family time.
Learn more about caregiver topics via our 25 lesson course for caregivers at AlzU.org by CLICKING HERE.