Receiving an Alzheimer’s diagnosis for yourself or a loved one is always going to be difficult. But if the person receiving the diagnosis has young children or grandchildren, then explaining the situation to them and preparing them for what’s to come is an additional challenge to face.
If you’re in this situation, then read on for some tips on how to handle it.
When to tell children
It’s obviously at your own discretion when to tell your children that their parent or grandparent is sick. But preparing them early and being honest and open with them can help make things easier. Of course, if your child is only an infant, then you may decide to wait until they are a little older when they can better understand what you are telling them.
In the early stages of Alzheimer’s, the condition and its symptoms may not be very noticeable. During this time, it may be easy to hide the condition without telling the children, waiting until it is more necessary to explain any changes in behavior and personality. Alternatively, telling your children while the symptoms aren’t apparent can help to prepare them so that they aren’t as shocked or upset when those symptoms do arise.
How to help them understand and cope
Alzheimer’s is a complex neurological condition that can vary greatly from one patient to the next. This makes it difficult to fully understand, especially for kids and teenagers. The important thing is to be honest with them while tailoring your explanation depending on their age and what they are likely to understand.
It’s important to let them know what kind of behaviors to expect from their loved one to prepare them. A sudden change in personality or an increase in irritability can be upsetting and even frightening, so you should help them to understand that these behaviors are only a result of the illness.
You should encourage children to ask any questions they may have and to answer these questions as best as you can while still remaining comforting. Being open and honest with them will help them feel more at ease and that they can trust you if they want to talk about it.
Encourage them to express their feelings about the situation. Some parents feel like they should hide their grief in order to avoid upsetting their child. However, being open about your own feelings can help to show your child that it’s normal to feel this way and they should feel comfortable expressing their feelings.
If you need any support with approaching an Alzheimer’s diagnosis or caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia, then contact Bermuda Village for personal care assistance around Winston Salem, Bermuda Run, Clemmons, and Lewisville. The Alzheimer’s Association website has useful resources for kids and teens to help them understand and cope with Alzheimer’s in the family.