Helping Kids Understand Alzheimer’s and Changes in Behavior

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Business

Explaining why a much-loved grandparent is behaving strangely due to Alzheimer’s disease can be very difficult for parents. With holiday gatherings approaching, the Alzheimer’s Association offers tips to help families cope and continue to enjoy festivities together.

Keep Open Lines of Communication: Each individual child will react differently to someone who has Alzheimer’s and will likely have questions about what is happening. It’s important to answer these questions openly and honestly. It will also help to share with them the changes the disease might bring, now and in the future. Good communication is the best way to help children deal with the changes that are happening. Let the child know their feelings are normal and create opportunities for them to express themselves and talk it through.

It’s Not His or Her Fault: Dementia can cause a person to direct confusion, fear or anger at the child. If this happens, be sure the child knows the person did not mean to act that way. People with dementia have good days and bad days. Make sure the child does not feel responsible for the kind of day it is. Those who care for the person with dementia might sometimes seem tired, frustrated, sad or short-tempered.

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Business

Teach the Child about the Disease: Begin sharing information about the disease and its symptoms as soon as you can. Encourage children to ask questions. Be patient and use words that are easy to understand. Reassure the child that just because a person in the family has Alzheimer’s, it does not necessarily mean that he or she or other family members will get the disease, too.

Ten activities children can share with a person with dementia

  • Bake cookies.
  • Take a walk around the neighborhood.
  • Put a puzzle together.
  • Weed a garden or plant flowers.
  • Color or draw pictures.
  • Make a scrapbook of family photographs.
  • Read a favorite book or story.
  • Eat a picnic lunch outside.
  • Watch your favorite TV show together.
  • Listen to or sing old songs.

Anyone with questions about Alzheimer’s disease and/or seeking information should contact the Alzheimer’s Association’s 24/7 toll-free helpline at 800.272.3900. Find more caregiving tips here:

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