I have been speaking to children who have been affected by Alzheimer’s disease . They may be children of a loved one or they may be grandchildren.
The young people need to talk about their feelings as changes occur. These feelings may include:
•grief and sadness at what is happening to someone they love
•anxiety about what will happen to the person in the future
•fear, irritation or embarrassment
•boredom – due to hearing the same stories and questions over and over again
•a sense of loss if their relative doesn’t seem to be the same person that they were, or because it isn’t possible to communicate with them in the same way anymore
•anger or rejection if other family members are under pressure and seem to have less time for them than they had before.
Tips to help discuss the situation effectively.
•Explain the situation as clearly and calmly as possible.
•Make the point more clearly by giving practical examples of behaviour that might seem strange, such as the person with dementia forgetting where they are
•Focus on the things that the person can still do, as well as those that are becoming more difficult.
•Try to be patient. You may need to repeat your explanations on different occasions, depending on the age of the child or young person.
•Ask how the person’s illness makes the child feel. Listen carefully to what they have to say and try to imagine the situation from their point of view so that you can find out exactly what might be worrying them.
•Use humour. It often helps if you can laugh about the situation together.
It is time to speak to all about Alzheimer’s disease as we remember our loved ones for who they were before the disease