Helping Children Adjust to an Alzheimer’s Diagnosis

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When an aging loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, the diagnosis is one that not only affects the elderly adult, but the entire family as well. Since many loved ones will be getting together for the holiday season, now could be a good time to prepare your children for spending time with a relative who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. If you are in need of specialty care for an aging loved one with Alzheimer’s, click here and see how a caregiver could help this holiday season.

One of the best things to do is to talk honestly with your children. Have an age-appropriate conversation with your child or teen about the symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s. Let your child know that Grandma may not immediately remember him/her, or that Grandpa may lose his temper if he’s not able to complete simple tasks like tie his shoes or put his sweater on. This will prepare your son or daughter for reactions they may receive from their grandparents that aren’t normal.

Next, be ready for questions. Younger children who do not understand the extent of Alzheimer’s may want to learn more about the disease, asking questions that aren’t politically correct. Be patient and answer them to the best of your ability, because the more they understand, the better they will be able to react in any given situation. Additionally, one fear that many older children and teens have is if their parent will one day develop Alzheimer’s. Be prepared for questions of this nature, and think about how you will answer them in a loving and comforting way.

After talking to your children about Alzheimer’s, you’ll want to pay attention to how they interact with their aging grandparent or loved one. Toddlers and young children may throw tantrums or become disgruntled because of the time and attention that is devoted to the family member with Alzheimer’s. Younger children may do things like complain of a stomach or headache to avoid having to interact with a relative with Alzheimer’s. Adolescents and teens may be embarrassed, and avoid inviting friends over in case their loved one has an “episode.”

Pay attention to the way your child is behaving, and offer your comfort and support. Re-emphasize the fact that the Alzheimer’s diagnosis is something that everyone is dealing with as a family, and do your best to enjoy the holiday season. By doing so, you’ll be able to provide comfort to your children, while also setting a great example.

For more information about caring for an aging parent, grandparent or loved one, visit our website at or contact a devoted Care Manager at 614-481-8888 to schedule a no-risk, complimentary consultation.


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