How to Talk with Kids about Alzheimer’s Disease

July 15, 2019

Talk with Kids about Alzheimer's Disease

It can be tough to talk with kids about Alzheimer’s disease. If an elder in your family has been diagnosed with the disease, these five tips can help you discuss it with kids.

If a family elder has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, you are probably grappling with a variety of unique challenges. The disease can present different struggles at every stage. One challenge that families often encounter early on is how to discuss the disease with young children and teens.

Alzheimer’s is a complex disease that can be difficult to explain and understand, especially for younger family members. We created this tip sheet to share a few age-appropriate ideas and resources to make it easier to have this discussion with kids.

5 Tips to Help You Talk with Kids about Alzheimer’s Disease

Kids may have an especially difficult time understanding Alzheimer’s because of the unpredictability of the disease. For example, a grandparent may remember the grandchild’s name and who they are on one visit, but not the next.

These tips can help you explain Alzheimer’s disease to the kids in your family:

  1. Explain the medical condition: Begin by explaining that the family elder has developed an illness that makes it tough for them to remember things. Emphasize that the senior will have good days and bad days. On bad days, they may act a little different than usual and not be able to remember the children or teens’ names.
  2. No one is at fault: Be sure you take time to reassure children that they haven’t done anything wrong, especially on days when the senior is struggling most. Explain that the changes are all part of the illness.
  3. Not contagious: As the senior’s disease progresses and the children witness changes, it’s important for them to know that the disease isn’t contagious. They can’t catch it like they would a cold or the flu. Also, reassure them that you won’t catch it from caring for the senior either. That may help keep them from worrying that one of you will develop Alzheimer’s, too.
  4. Create an activities list: Before you sit down to talk with the children in your family about Alzheimer’s disease, take a few minutes to create a list of activities the kids and their family elder can still enjoy together. From crafts to art projects and music, people with Alzheimer’s can stay engaged with life.
  5. Learn from other kids: The Alzheimer’s Association developed several video series you can share with the children in your family to help them better understand the disease. Kids Look at Alzheimer’s and Teens Look at Alzheimer’s are especially meaningful because both are produced by kids for kids.

Legacy Senior Living

Alzheimer’s disease and related forms of dementia can be difficult for families to safely manage at home. Wandering, agitation, and aggression are tough behaviors to cope with for those unfamiliar with disease management.

Families often discover that memory care programs are not only the safest solution for a senior, but one that allows a loved one to live their best quality of life. We invite you to call the Legacy Senior Living community nearest you to learn more about memory care options and to schedule a private tour today!