If a relative with Alzheimer’s disease lives with the family, the telling will be gradual. If the relative with the disease does not live with the family, and children see the loved one less frequently, they will notice a lapse in the person’s behavior changes. They might get scared and wonder what is happening. When a child notices the changes in behavior it is best to tell them straightforward what is happening.
Children need to know that the person has a disease that causes a loss of memory. More importantly they need to know that despite the loss in memory the person loves them as much as ever. They also need to know that when the person gets angry or agitated it had nothing to do with them that is because the person is feeling frustrated or helpless and can’t express it with words, it does not mean that they love them any less.
Children should also be encouraged to spend time with the person with Alzheimer’s disease, even when her memory fades so much that she no longer recognizes who she is conversing with.
Tell your children that, they may have to help the loved one by reading to the person with dementia, telling stories, playing simple games, or helping them tie shoes or put on coats or shoes.
Lastly, read to your children stories about other children who have lived with someone who has Alzheimer’s disease.
Some reading suggestions :
- Remember Grandma? Laura Langston
- What’s happening to Grandpa? Maria Shriver
“Do not ask me to remember.
Don’t try to make me understand.
Let me rest and know that you’re with me.
Kiss my cheek and hold my hand.
I’m confused beyond your concept.
I am sad and sick and lost.
All I know is I need you to be with me at all cost.
Do not lose your patience with me.
Do not scold or curse or cry.
I can’t help the way I am acting.
Can’t be different though I try.
Just remember that I need you, that the best of me is gone.
Please don’t fail to stand beside me.
Love me til my life is done.”