November is here, and you know what that means? It’s Alzheimer’s Awareness Month – a time when we shed some light on a disease that, frankly, can be a tough nut to crack for both the person diagnosed and their family. But today, we’re going to talk about something equally important: how to explain Alzheimer’s to the younger members of your clan – the children and the teens.
Dealing with Alzheimer’s as a family member is hard. It doesn’t just throw a curveball at the person dealing with it but also sends ripples through the whole family, especially the young ones. Explaining this disease to the kids can be as tricky as explaining why the sky is blue, but it’s essential for their well-being.
In our blog, we’re diving into the art of telling children and young people about Alzheimer’s. We’ve got some tips up our sleeves, and we’re sharing a couple of resources to help families sail through the rocky sea of Alzheimer’s.
Having the Difficult Conversation:
Explaining dementia to children and teens requires a bit of finesse. But don’t worry, we’ve got some tricks up our sleeves to help you navigate this difficult situation.
- Keep it simple: When talking to young children, use simple language they can understand. You might say, “Well, Grandma has a sickness that makes her forget things.”
- Honesty is the best policy: We’ve all heard this one, and it’s true! Be honest with your kids and teens, and keep the information age-appropriate. No need to traumatize them with medical jargon. Depending on their age, this will only cause confusion and fear.
- Let them know it’s not their fault: Kids often blame themselves for reasons unknown to us. Reassure them that Alzheimer’s is not their fault, and nothing they did or said caused it.
- Analogies are your new best friend: Analogies can be helpful in explaining the disease. You could compare Alzheimer’s to a puzzle where the pieces are missing or a computer that is not working properly.
- Repetition and plenty of reassurance: Explaining Alzheimer’s may require multiple chats. Kids are curious, so be patient and keep the door open to questions.
Other Ways to Support Children and Teens:
- Talk about it, then talk about it again: Create a safe space for children and teens to express their thoughts, feelings of sadness and questions. You might even get some pretty intriguing ones, so be prepared!
- Routine is king: Alzheimer’s can feel like a circus of unpredictability. Maintaining daily routines provides a comforting anchor for kids and teens.
- Alzheimer’s 101: Think of it as an advanced course in human nature for your children. Teach them about the different stages of Alzheimer’s disease, and they might surprise you with their understanding and empathy.
- Channel empathy: Encourage your young ones to empathize with their loved one. Help them understand what Grandma (or Grandpa) might be feeling. This can lead to more patience and kindness.
- The power of support groups: If you haven’t already, consider finding a local support group for families facing Alzheimer’s. You’ll meet people who get it (like, really get it), and you can share experiences and insights. Now is the perfect time to spend time with each other, which is more crucial than ever.
- Respite Care: Caring for your parent who has Alzheimer’s is a tough gig, and sometimes, you just need to take a break. Laughter can be an antidote to stress, so don’t feel bad or guilty about sharing a chuckle with your family or doing something fun together.
Remember You’re Not Alone
Let’s remember, you’re not sailing these Alzheimer’s waters alone. This journey is like a rollercoaster – it’s got its thrilling ups and challenging downs. But tucked in between those twists and turns, you’ll find beautiful moments, strength and love that defy the odds.
These moments, when shared with our little ones, become lessons in empathy, kindness, and resilience. Even when life throws us a curveball like Alzheimer’s, we can still find pockets of joy.
With an open heart and honest conversations, families can help their young family members make sense of this devastating disease. The secret ingredient? A safe space where every voice is heard and supported.
As we head into Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, let’s keep the flame of education, advocacy, and support burning bright. By coming together as a community, we can make a difference in the lives of families facing the challenges of Alzheimer’s.
Here are some more resources from ALZ.org for families who are dealing with Alzheimer’s or dementia:
About the Author
Naborforce is all about connecting older adults and their families who need a helping hand with compassionate Nabors who are eager to lend one. We believe in the power of these connections to strengthen the communities we serve. If you’re caring for someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s, don’t hesitate to explore the services on our website or give us a call at 844.MyNabor. Our trusted Nabors are here to provide you with peace of mind and assistance with daily tasks, so you can focus on treasuring precious moments with your loved one.