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FAQs #21

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Q21. How do I help my kids accept the changes in their grandmother who has Alzheimer's Disease?

A21. Kristin Glenn :
As you well know Alzheimer's disease can cause people to behave in ways that do not fit with their past personality. Children can easily misinterpret these 'mysterious' behaviors, especially if we attempt to shield them from the disease. It is important to give kids explanations that are age-appropriate and realize that often children can bring a great deal of enjoyment and warmth into the life of someone with a memory loss illness. It may be helpful to give your children some ideas of activities to enjoy with their grandmother. Activities should focus on her remaining strengths and interests...some possibilities- going for walks, gardening, reminiscing about her childhood, looking at photo albums, listening to music, dancing together, etc... your children can probably come up with list of creative ideas of their own.

Some good resources for additional information for children include the Alzheimer's Association (they have an entire packet of information that is designed specifically for children). A great web-site for older kids is Neuroscience for Kids and a related site offers a newsletter written by Dr. Eric Chudler for kids about brain changes. The local library is a place to start for some excellent videos and books (What's wrong with Grandma?, Nanny's Special Gift, The Memory Box, A Beautiful Pearl, Remember Me). It will be important for you to be available to review any information with your children and be ready for their questions.

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