Alzheimer’s Care in Southern Arizona

How to Talk to Your Child About Their Grandparent’s Alzheimer’s

While it may be hard to come to terms with your parent’s Alzheimer’s or dementia diagnosis, it can be even harder to explain to your child that their grandparent has Alzheimer’s. Children are very sensitive to changes in mood, environment, and behavior, so they likely have already picked up on the clues that something is different.

They may even have started asking questions, which presents you with the ideal opportunity to begin the conversation. Here are some tips for talking to your child about your parent’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

Plan the Conversation for a Quiet Moment in a Quiet Place

Plan to have the conversation in a quiet moment in a quiet place. You want to give your child the best chance of understanding what Alzheimer’s and dementia are, and it will be easier to explain if you are in a calm environment. Consider having the conversation in your child’s room, the family room, or the living room, where they will feel safe and comfortable.

Use Books and Videos as Aids

You can use books and videos as an easier way to bring up the topic. Some age-appropriate children’s books that address the topic of Alzheimer’s and dementia are:

  • The Remember Balloons by Jessie Oliveros
  • What a Beautiful Morning by Arthur A. Levine
  • Dad’s Camera by Ross Watkins
  • The Tide by Clare Helen Welsh
  • My Singing Nana by Pat Mora
  • Really and Truly by Emily Rivard
  • Newspaper Hats by Phil Cummings
  • Lovely Old Lion by Julia Jarman
  • Grandma and Me by Beatrice Tauber Prior, Psy.D. and Mary Ann Drummond, RN
  • A Doll for Grandma by Paulette Bochnig Sharkey
  • Forget Me Not by Nancy Van Laan
  • My New Granny by Elisabeth Steinkellner
  • Finding Grandma’s Memories by Jiyeon Pak
  • Grandma by Jessica Shepherd
  • The Day Abuelo Got Lost by Diane de Anda

You can also look up instructional videos for children about Alzheimer’s on YouTube. Be sure to watch the videos first to make sure they are age-appropriate for your child and won’t cause any distress.

Explain How Their Behavior and Personality Might Change

As your parent’s Alzheimer’s progresses, they may develop significant personality and behavioral changes. You can gently prepare your child for this by explaining what they can expect.

Tell them how your lives and routines might change due to the diagnosis, and explain that your parent may have mood swings, personality changes, and outbursts but that they will always be safe and loved. You should also talk about all of the ways things will stay the same for now so that your child doesn’t feel worried or threatened.

Make Sure Your Child Knows It Isn’t Their Fault

Be sure that your child understands that the changes to come are not their fault. Your household routine may change, and your parent’s behavior may change, but none of that is a reflection on your child.

You don’t want your child to feel worried about your parent’s health, so make sure not to place any of the burden on them. Explain that even if your parent has behavioral changes or expresses anger, frustration, or depression in your child’s presence, it is not because of anything your child did wrong.

Help Your Child Adjust Their Expectations

You should help your child adjust and manage their expectations. Explain that your parent will have good days and bad days and that not every day is a great day for a visit or activity. You want your child to be prepared for the fact that your parent may not be as able to play, have a conversation, or take part in activities and events as they were in the past.

You also want to make sure your child knows not to put any pressure on your parent to participate or take part in activities they aren’t capable of.

Involve Other Family Members in the Conversation

If possible, you should involve other family members in the conversation. This can take some of the pressure off of you and also give your child other perspectives to consider. If your child expresses any kind of denial or anger about the conversation, having other family members there might make it easier to proceed.

Discuss Ways Their Relationship Will Stay the Same

You can reassure your child and calm their anxieties by going over the ways their relationship with your parent will stay the same. Be sure to tell them that they will still see their grandparent and spend time with them. It just may be under different circumstances than it was in the past.

Reassure your child that their grandparent still loves them and wants to spend time with them. You can also go over the ways in which you and your child will be involved in their care.

Be Patient and Honest

Stay calm throughout the conversation, and be as patient and honest as possible. Give specific examples when you can, or use a book or video to further illustrate your points. By telling the truth and being open, you are building trust with your child and giving them the opportunity to be honest about their feelings and concerns.

Make Room for Your Child’s Feelings

Be sure to make room in the conversation for your child’s feelings, questions, and concerns. Leave the conversation open-ended so your child can interject and ask questions throughout. Make sure your child knows that they can always come to you with more questions or concerns or if they notice something changes.

Give your child space to discuss their feelings so they can process them in a safe space. They may feel anxious, sad, scared, angry, confused, embarrassed, or overwhelmed. Encourage them to use their words and explore those feelings, and reassure them that they are normal feelings to have.

Answer All Questions in a Straightforward Way

Answer all of your child’s questions in as honest and straightforward a way as possible. Your child will be able to tell if you are being evasive or vague, and that might make them feel like there is something even scarier that you are not telling them.

Get Support From an Expert

If possible, get support and assistance from an expert before talking to your child. Ask your child’s pediatrician for advice, or consult with a family counselor or child psychologist. You can also find resources like videos, books, and articles online that can guide you through the process.

Once you have had the conversation with your child, you could even plan a visit to a psychologist or support group to give your child a chance to talk about their feelings with a professional.

Get In-Home Alzheimer’s Care in Southern Arizona

At Placita In Home Care, we offer in-home memory care and Alzheimer’s care in Southern Arizona. Our in-home care specialists are highly skilled and experienced and undergo extensive training to ensure they are exceeding client expectations.

We can offer assistance with bathing, dressing, hygiene, personal care, toileting, meal preparation, light housekeeping, transportation, medication management, and companionship. Our goal is to keep your loved one safe, healthy, and engaged in the comfort of their own home. We can also schedule a free home safety evaluation to make sure your home is free from health and safety hazards.

If your loved one is ready to transition into an assisted living Alzheimer’s care facility, we offer free placement services. To schedule a consultation for Alzheimer’s care in the Tucson or Phoenix metro area, call us today or fill out our contact form online.