At Woodland Ridge, we know the impact an Alzheimer’s diagnosis can have on family, friends, and loved ones. While an adult may understand what it means for their loved one and their relationship, children often do not.
Discussing Alzheimer’s disease with children can be a unique obstacle. Our community in Smyrna, Georgia, understands that having a loved one diagnosed with any memory impairing illness is challenging to navigate. With children involved, you may not know how to approach the situation, so we want to share a few tips on talking to children about Alzheimer’s disease.
Research the Disease
If you don’t fully understand Alzheimer’s disease, we recommend doing your research before trying to explain it to others. Children ask questions, and it’s important to be able to answer them (to the best of your ability). Researching what to expect following an Alzheimer’s diagnosis can help answer a child’s questions while helping prepare you and your family for what’s next.
Be Honest & Explain
When discussing Alzheimer’s disease with children, make sure you’re in a room with limited background noise and distractions. Discussing Alzheimer’s disease may not be easy, but it is best if you’re honest about the condition. Explain what is happening to their loved one; the younger they are, the more simple you should explain it.
If they don’t understand, try comparing it to an illness or ailment they are familiar with and branch off with the differences and how it may affect their loved one.
Be Open & Answer Questions
As previously mentioned, it’s natural for children to have questions. Be open and willing to answer any questions regarding Alzheimer’s disease and your loved one’s condition. Discussing the condition can make it less scary for children. As they gain a better understanding of what the disease is, they can have a better realization of what to expect in the future.
Ask them questions, too. What makes them concerned or scared about the disease? What, if anything, are they confused about regarding the disease? In the earlier stages of the disease, include your loved one in the conversation as well so he or she can provide comfort.
Help Them Understand
Those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease may experience many changes in their brain, including:
- Forgetting people
- Drastic mood swings
- Paranoia about those around them
It is important to prepare children for these types of scenarios and help them understand that if their loved one forgets certain memories or has a mood change around them, it is not their fault. It is an effect of the disease and not something they are responsible for.
Involve the Kids
With Alzheimer’s disease, your loved one may begin a routine where you or another loved one is assisting them. To allow for children to continue to have meaningful interactions with their loved one, involve them in the routine to help them gain firsthand knowledge of the disease. This should be kept to simple tasks such as explaining why their loved one is taking certain medications or helping them pick out their loved one’s clothes for the day.
Get Help When Needed
While many families opt to take care of a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease, there may come a time when that is no longer possible. Or, you may choose to find a memory care community from the start. If this is the case, make sure children understand why their loved one is no longer living at home and that they are still able to visit and see their loved one.
Memory care services, like those at Woodland Ridge in Smyrna, Georgia, are a place where your loved one’s safety is guaranteed with services, amenities, and engaging activities and programs that yield a meaningful experience. Memory care neighborhoods specialize in assisting those with Alzheimer’s disease or any form of dementia and provide your loved one with the level of care he or she needs.