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Talking to Kids and Teens
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Introduction

Alzheimer’s disease impacts family life. Take the time to talk with the children and teens in your family so that they understand what is happening to the person with Alzheimer’s.

The degree to which children and teens are affected by the disease depends on who has it — a parent or grandparent, relative or friend. Other factors include how close the child or teen is to the person and where the person lives (in the same home, assisted living or nursing home, out-of-state, etc.).

Feelings and reactions

Children and teens may feel:

  • Sad about changes in a loved one’s personality and behavior

  • Confused or afraid about why the person behaves differently

  • Worried that the disease is contagious and that they will get it

  • Worried that their parents might develop the disease

  • Angry and frustrated by the need to repeat activities or questions

  • Guilty for getting angry or being short-tempered with the person

  • Jealous and resentful because of the increased amount of time and attention that is given to the person with Alzheimer’s

  • Embarrassed to have friends or other visitors to the house

Children and teens may exhibit their emotions in ways you may not easily recognize. They may:

  • Verbalize vague physical complaints, such as a stomachache or headache

  • Perform poorly in school

  • Spend more time away from home

  • Stop inviting friends to the house


Ways to help children and teens cope

  • Offer comfort and support

  • Provide opportunities for them to express their feelings

  • Let them know their feelings are normal

  • Educate them about the disease and encourage them to ask questions

  • Respond honestly to questions

Activities that can help and be done as a family

  • Go for a walk

  • Do household chores together, such as folding laundry, raking leaves or washing dishes

  • Listen to music, dance or sing

  • Look at old photographs

  • Read a favorite book or newspaper

  • Create a scrapbook or photo album about the person

  • Make a family tree

  • Watch a movie

  • Keep a journal together

Kids & Teens Web section

To help children and teens learn more about Alzheimer's disease and understand how it affects them, we have a special Kids & Teens section. It includes printed resources, book reviews and links to sites that explain how the brain works.


 

Alzheimer's Association

Our vision is a world without Alzheimer's
Formed in 1980, the Alzheimer's Association is the world's leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer's care, support and research.