Talking to Kids About Seniors in Home CareApril 30, 2021
Talking to Kids about Seniors in Home Care: Your parents are elderly, and they’ve chosen to live at home rather than assisted living or a nursing home. Your dad’s memory isn’t what it used to be. And eventually the diagnosis you’ve been dreading comes through: he has Alzheimer’s.
You know there’s no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, and while some drugs may slow the progression of the disease, nothing will stop it completely. Your relationship with your parents is likely to change, as your mom will be spending a lot more time taking care of him, and your dad will be fighting the disease.
Now would be an excellent time to suggest they get some help at home with an at-home caregiver. But there’s another factor to consider. Your kids love their grandparents, and they don’t understand why grandpa can’t remember things like he used to.
Maybe he calls them by your name and calls you his sister’s name. Or he just seems a lot quieter these days. It’s important, both for your dad and for your kids, to talk to your kids about what is going on.
Answering Your Children’s Questions about Alzheimer ’s Disease
The most important thing when talking to your children about Seniors in Home Care and Alzheimer’s is to be honest. There is much we don’t know about the disease yet, and it’s ok to tell them that. Some common questions they may have:
How did Grandpa get sick? Did he catch it from someone? Are we going to catch it from him?
We don’t really know why people get Alzheimer’s disease. But even though it seems silly to adults, emphasize to your kids that Alzheimer’s is not contagious, and there’s no chance they’re going to get sick from him.
Is he going to get better? How can I help?
While it’s hard to tell your children this, it’s true that their grandpa’s condition is going to get worse over time, and they’ll need to be ready for that. As for helping, just spending time with him is the best thing they can do. Seniors in Home Care with Alzheimer’s, especially in earlier stages, still appreciate connections with family, even if they have some difficulty remembering who is who.
Why can Grandpa remember a baseball game he went to a long time ago, but can’t remember my name?
Alzheimer’s doesn’t erase someone’s memory like in the movies. Rather, it tends to affect recent memories and makes it more difficult to make new ones. And some theories suggest that dementia patients tend to remember good times as a way to make themselves feel good. Your kids should encourage him to talk about these memories, both for his sake and for theirs.
If Grandpa doesn’t remember my name but remembers my sister’s name, does that mean he loves her more?
Probably, yes. Just kidding! Of course not. But that’s the perfect example of a question that kids may think of that a grownup never would.
It’s important to reinforce that grandpa loves them the same as he always has, and no disease can change that.
Now That You’ve Answered Your Kids’ Questions About Elderly Grandparents and Dementia…
You may have some questions of your own about your elderly parent with dementia and your kids. The most common one (and the one with the most difficult answer) is how long you should keep having your kids visit with him.
After all, you don’t want your kids’ memories of their grandfather to be who he is at the end of his life, especially if he loses most of his cognitive function, doesn’t remember who they are, and (as sometimes happens) becomes aggressive or irritable. But you also don’t want to rob your kids of that relationship, and it’s hard to know if it might help your dad. Some tips to making this decision:
- Be flexible. Alzheimer’s disease is a “good days and bad days” condition. And just because it’s a holiday or family special occasion doesn’t mean it will be a good day. So plans may have to change at the last minute.
- Talk to his caregiver. If your mom is taking care of your dad and getting help from an in-home caregiver, talk to them both about whether visits with the grandkids are helpful to your father or draining.
- Don’t forget to make time for Grandma. Taking care of an Alzheimer’s patient is a full-time job, one that doesn’t stop just because the grandkids are there for a visit. Make sure your kids get to spend some time with Grandma as well, and maybe volunteer to take care of your father, or have a professional caregiver come in to provide her with some respite care so she can spoil her grandkids for the day.
- When the time comes to stop seeing grandpa as much, make sure your kids know what’s going on. Some people describe someone in an advanced stage of Alzheimer’s as not being themselves anymore. It’s ok to tell your kids that although grandpa is still alive, in some ways it’s not really him anymore.
Get More Help for Your Kids When Dealing with Elderly Grandparents with Alzheimer’s Disease
The Alzheimer’s Association has a website for kids and teens to provide more information about dealing with an elderly family member with Alzheimer’s disease. Your children’s school may have additional resources. Plus it’s a good idea to let teachers and counselors know what’s going on, in case your kids ask about these things at school.
And there are some good Alzheimer’s explainers on the web for kids. Having parents who are Seniors in Home Care Alzheimer’s disease can be stressful. Your impulse may be to try to be there for your parents as much as you can be, the way they were for you. But it’s also the case that the same way they were there for you, you’ll want to be there for your own children.
Home Care Powered by AUAF Can Provide Quality Home Care for Your Elderly Parents
Whether it’s help around the house with cleaning and laundry, meal planning and preparation; or help seniors and their families live independently. Finding the right caregiver for older adults in your life is an enormously important step. That’s why the dedicated professionals at Home Care Powered by AUAF work tirelessly to help bring you and your elderly parents the peace of mind you’re looking for. Call us at 773-274-9262 or contact us for more information or to get started.
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