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When Grandma Has Alzheimer’s: Helping Your Child Cope

Children with grandparents who have Alzheimer’s may become afraid, confused, sad, angry, frustrated, guilty, worried, and/or embarrassed.

Children typically fear:

1. The grandparent doesn’t love them anymore
2. It’s somehow their fault
3. They may catch the disease
4. Their parent(s) may get it

A child who is having a hard time might do one of the following:
1. Withdraw from or lose patience with the person
2. Do poorly in school
3. Express physical pain, like a stomachache or headache
4. Spend more time away from home
5. Stop inviting friends to the home

How You Can Help Your Child Cope:

1. Explain the disease in simple terms your child can understand.

2. Encourage your child to ask questions. Answer them honestly and simply.

3. Set aside time to be together when your child can feel safe to talk about the situation.

4. Have your child make a box filled with items that will remind them of special times spent with the grandparent in the past.

5. Read with your child books written especially for children on Alzheimer’s. The Alzheimer’s Association’s Web site has an annotated list of such books.

6. Encourage your child to spend time with the grandparent. The Alzheimer’s Association Web site has a list of 101 ways to spend time with a person with Alzheimer’s disease.

7. In the later stages of the disease if your child strongly resists spending time with the grandparent it’s probably wise not to force the issue.

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3 Responses to “When Grandma Has Alzheimer’s: Helping Your Child Cope”

  1. Rusty from Maine says:

    I’m in the sandwich generation – taking care of my mother and my children. My kids are very upset about mother’s condition. She can’t even remember their names, although she does still express affection for them. I’ve tried to help them emotionally but nothing I do seems to help much.

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