Becoming the primary caregiver for an aging parent with Alzheimer’s disease is no easy task but when you add your young children into the mix, it can seem nearly impossible. Kids can easily become sullen, resentful or even frightened of their grandparent. Here’s what you need to know about helping your children cope with the changes in their home.
Explain What’s Happening
While it may seem easier to say “Grandma’s just having a bad day” or “Grandpa forgets things sometimes”, you’re not doing your children any favors by minimizing the impact of the disease for their benefit. While it’s not necessary to give your kids all the information at once, it’s important to keep the channels of communication open.
Research Alzheimer’s together in an age appropriate way. The Alzheimer’s Association has some great tips for talking about the disease with your kids. Assure them that while things are certainly changing, you’ll always be there to answer their questions or listen to their problems.
Encourage a Healthy Relationship With Their Grandparent
Young children may not understand why Grandma or Grandpa sometimes cries, forgets their name or gets angry. This uncertainty can lead to a fractured relationship with their once-beloved grandparent.
While you should never force your kids to spend time alone with their grandparent, you should definitely encourage them to maintain a relationship. There are plenty of things you can do as a family that will allow your kids and your parent to spend time together.
Exercise is great for those with Alzheimer’s. In many cases, it can help to decrease the anxiety they feel as their disease progresses and give them a sense of accomplishment. Make a habit of walking as a family each day. This can help to promote a healthy bond between your children and their grandparent.
Encourage your kids to talk to Grandma or Grandpa, even if they won’t (or can’t) reply. While it may be difficult at first, your children will be babbling away about their day before you know it.
Take a Break
Children can be demanding and when Grandma or Grandpa is taking up all of your time, they’ll quickly become resentful. As much as your parent needs you, your kids need you, too. It’s okay to take a break or ask for help when you need it.
In-home Alzheimer care options are varied. If your parent has no pressing medical needs but can’t be left unsupervised, a companion service is a solid choice. Someone will come to your home and sit with your parent while you’re away. They might help with crafts, read a book or simply sit and visit.
For those who need help getting to the bathroom, bathing or other private tasks, a personal caregiver may be the right option. They can help get your parent dressed, showered and work them through their daily exercises.
Your kids need your attention but so does your parent and it’s impossible to be in two places at once. When you’re torn in two different directions, in-home care—such as that provided by ComforCare National—can allow you to spend quality time with your children while ensuring that your parent gets the support and care they need.
Alzheimer’s can be difficult for the whole family but children are often the ones who suffer the most. It’s a bumpy road but when you keep an open dialogue, encourage family activities and make time for your kids, you’ll come out the other side just fine.Read More