Sunday, August 26, 2012

Alzheimer's and Children


My own observations tell me that unlike adults, young people see right through Alzheimer's disease. They see the grandparent they have always known, and recognize that they are sick. While this saddens them they seem to rise to the occasion in a way that most adults might never expect.

By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room


Alzheimer's and Children
Dotty, Kaitlyn
Previously Max Wallack wrote -- What is it like for a child to be an Alzheimer’s caregiver? Max followed up with -- Answers to Questions On Being a Young Alzheimer's Caregiver.

Max wrote in answer to a question:
I was thinking about what you could tell your daughter when her grandmother zones out. Maybe you could explain that Grandma’s brain needs to rest sometimes to help her remember better. Explain that when Grandma isn’t talking, it means her brain is resting. Then, your daughter won’t feel that her grandmother is displeased with her in any way, but rather just needs a little rest so they can spend more time together.


A wonderful observation.

I learned over the years that older patients suffering from Alzheimer's love being around children. This is certainly true of Dotty. She lights up when she is around children. She is always more engaged when talking about her grand chilren.

Previously, I wrote about two Catonsville mothers, Wendy Geist and Amy Nelson, who initiated a volunteer project of collecting used dolls to ease the suffering and bring joy to seniors experiencing Alzheimer's disease. The women say, "beneficial effects can be amazing." See -- Women collect dolls to benefit Alzheimer's patients.

It is clear that children can bring meaning and joy into the lives of Alzheimer's patients -- Kids bring joy to Alzheimer's Sufferers.

Lindsey Jordan is sixteen years old, and she is an Alzheimer's caregiver. In her essay, Teen Caregiver she wrote,
Care-giving is a 24-hour-a-day job, and I helped Mom wherever I could. As a young child, I remember helping Dad get dressed, tying his shoes, and preparing his breakfast, all before I went to school.

I often held my Dad's hand so he wouldn't wander and get lost. I worried when he did. To calm both our fears, I often read and sang to him. All the simple things we took for granted became much more difficult.
See -- Alzheimer's Disease Caregiver Lindsey Jordan -- Teen Caregiver (Essay).

In Grandpa Do You Know Who I Am (the Alzheimer's Project) children ages 6 through 15 discuss and describe how they deal with Alzheimer's disease. Go here to watch this documentary on the Internet via streaming video.

It appears that parents struggle with the issue about how to tell their children about Alzheimer's. I think Max has it right. The best policy is to include them in the process.

My own observations tell me that unlike adults, young people see right through Alzheimer's disease. They see the grandparent they have always known, and recognize that they are sick. While this saddens them they seem to rise to the occasion in a way that most adults might never expect.

Alzheimer's disease can provide life lessons for everyone. It seems the children are better than adults at learning the lessons to be learned. Children are and can be very compassionate. They don't run for cover.

Please consider sharing this with parents who have children that are being touched by Alzheimer's disease. Also consider reviewing this information. There is lot to be learned from the children.


Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room