Explaining Alzheimer’s Illness to Youngsters


Grandparents Day is celebrated every year on July 26th to celebrate the important role grandparents play in families. At NeuronUP we would like to take this opportunity to discuss the difficult task of explaining Alzheimer Disease for children.

It is undeniable that explaining Alzheimer’s to children is not an easy task. Children may not understand why their grandparents who used to care for them picked them up from school or gave them a snack, can no longer do these things. So we should be the first explain to the child in age-appropriate language what happens to the grandparents.

Explain Alzheimer’s Disease to Children

What is Alzheimer’s?

“Your grandpa (or grandma) has Alzheimer’s, a disease that makes the brain forget things.” But Alzheimer’s isn’t just memory loss, and the child needs to be able to gradually understand all other symptoms.

Alzheimer’s Symptoms That Children Should Be Familiar With

This type of dementia usually starts slowly and first affects the parts of the brain responsible for memory, thinking, and language. Over time, these symptoms worsen to the point that people who have Alzheimer’s disease do do not recognize their closest relatives, including their grandchildren. At this moment, children will most likely be sad, so it is important to explain to them that it is so not the fault of the grandparents, but the illness that makes them forget. Sometimes the grandparents forget how to dress or groom and we have to explain it to the children in order to help them.

In addition to pronounced memory problems, patients with Alzheimer’s disease develop other symptoms such as changes in the ability to think, aphasia, apraxia, deficits in visual-spatial abilities, and changes in mood and personality.

Will my grandparents’ Alzheimer’s disease be cured?

Other common questions the child may ask during the illness are: Can Alzheimer’s be prevented? What is the treatment for Alzheimer’s? Will my grandma be cured? Or will my grandpa die of Alzheimer’s?

Children must be told that there is currently no drug that can reverse the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. However, it’s a good idea to talk about the fact that there are medications and activities available for people with Alzheimer’s that can delay the progression of the disease, especially in the early to middle stages.

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Spend time with your grandparents

“Just because Grandpa has Alzheimer’s doesn’t mean he can’t spend time with you.” Specialists insist that Love with Alzheimer Benefit from our love and our visits. Read more about the relationship between memory and Alzheimer’s here.

Watering the plants or working on puzzles are everyday activities that grandchildren and grandparents can do together.

Comic to explain Alzheimer’s disease to children

With the aim of helping children understand Alzheimer’s, we recommend the comic Alzheimer’s: What’s Up With Grandpa? aimed at young people between 10 and 16 years of age.

The author of the comic, Mercè Boada, is a neurologist and director of the ACE Foundation of the Catalan Institute of Applied Neuroscience (Barcelona, ​​Spain). The comic tells the story of Ramón, a grandfather who is beginning to show the first signs of the disease, and his grandson Julio, who spends a few days with him in the summer.

On the 18 pages, the 13 year old teenager realizes that his grandfather is disoriented, forgetful and kind of weird. Then he tries to figure out what Alzheimer’s is and looks for a way to help it.

If you liked this post on Alzheimer’s, you may also find the following interesting:

  • 10 Cognitive Rehabilitation Activities for People with Alzheimer’s Disease
  • The remains of a shipwreck: emotional memory and Alzheimer’s

The entry “Explanation of Alzheimer’s Disease for Children” appears first on the NeuronUP blog.

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