Talking to Your Children About Alzheimer’s Disease
May 22, 2018
Hearing that your aging parent has Alzheimer’s disease can be a frightening moment for you.
If you are in the sandwich generation, however, this moment can also mean the beginning of an even more challenging journey for you. The sandwich generation is made up of those adults who are sandwiched between caring for their elderly adults as well as their children. This means when you find out your parent has this disease you must think not just about how they are going to handle the progression, and how you are going to be the best caregiver possible for them, but also how your children will react to this experience. It is extremely important for you to talk to your children about Alzheimer’s disease, and how it is impacting their grandparent. Understanding what’s happening around them can reduce anxiety, make your child feel more confident, and even encourage them to participate in their grandparents care.
Use these tips to help you talk to your children about Alzheimer’s disease:
Be willing, to be honest with them. Children can understand much more than many people give them credit for, and are able to be more resilient than you might expect. This doesn’t mean you need to give tremendous detail, or that you should overwhelm young children with extensive medical information, but you should be willing to be honest and upfront with them about what’s going on, and what it means.
Avoid euphemisms. Trying to soften a difficult conversation with euphemisms or slang terms can actually make the situation more difficult for your child to understand, and can frighten them. Use clear-cut explanations at the level that is appropriate for your child.
Reassure them it is not contagious. Many children will hear the word “sick” and think they can catch what’s wrong with your parent. Reassure them this is a disease that cannot be spread from person to person, and they are not at any risk spending time with their grandparent.
Prepare them for changes. Explain to your children how the disease will impact your parent’s cognitive functioning, memory, and even ability to recognize people. Reassure your children this doesn’t mean their grandparent no longer loves them, or that they don’t matter. Encourage them to continue spending time with your parent, and help them to deal with these changes as they come.
Give them coping skills. Make sure your children are prepared with ways to handle your parent’s progression. Teach them to introduce themselves to your parent as their recognition skills decrease, instruct them in the value of spending time doing activities such as reading, looking through pictures, and even doing crafts, and show your children that you are there for them throughout the experience. Your children are likely to experience a wide range of difficult emotions during this time, and you want them to know you are there to help them cope, support them, and ensure they are a valuable part of your parent’s progression as much as is right for them.
How can elder care help?
If you have been looking for ways to enhance your parents quality of life, help them to manage their health challenges and other limitations, boost their mental and emotional health, and encourage them to live a more fulfilling life, now may be the ideal time for you to consider elderly care for them. An elderly home care services provider can be with your parents on a schedule that is right not only for your parents’ individual needs and challenges but also for the level of care you already give them. Through a set of highly personalized services tailored specifically to them, this care provider can help your parent to stay safe, healthy, comfortable, and happy, while also pursuing greater activity, independence, and fulfillment as they age in place. This can give you tremendous peace of mind as their family caregiver by reassuring you your senior will be in good hands both when you are able to be with them, and when you are not.