How to Explain Alzheimer's to Children

Explaining Alzheimer's to children can be quite challenging. Do you want to know how to do it in the best possible way? Here you'll find some tips.
How to Explain Alzheimer's to Children
Ana Couñago

Written and verified by the psychologist Ana Couñago.

Last update: 27 December, 2022

Alzheimer’s is a neurodegenerative disease. According to the Spanish Society of Neuroscience (SENC), at present, 800,000 people suffer from Alzheimer’s in Spain. So, it’s possible that children have a family member or know somebody who suffers from this disease. Therefore, it’s important to know how to explain Alzheimer’s to children. Here, you’ll find some ideas to help you do it.

But, before explaining this to your children in a simple and easy-to-understand way, you should be well informed.

To do this, reading about Alzheimer’s is a good idea. In addition, it could be necessary to get in touch with any organization related to this disease and its development.

How to explain Alzheimer’s to children

Explaining Alzheimer’s to children isn’t an easy task. This is why we’ve created a list of tips that can be of real help. Pay attention to all of them!

How to Explain Alzheimer's to Children

      1. Find the right moment to talk about it

If you have to talk to your children about Alzheimer’s, you have to find the right moment. This conversation should happen in a quiet, relaxed environment, free from distractions. 

Furthermore, it’s important to have the time to give them a proper explanation and to answer all the questions they could come up with.

      2. Give a clear and concise Alzheimer’s explanation

When talking about Alzheimer’s, try to be concise and clear, and use simple words that children can understand easily.

It’s important that children comprehend that Alzheimer’s isn’t just about memory loss. It’s a disease that affects the brain and, in time, it can also affect the body.

Therefore, they need to be prepared to see many changes in the personality of people who suffer from Alzheimer’s. This is especially hard when it happens to a grandparent or another close family member.

      3. Be supportive and understanding of children’s reactions

When you finish your explanation, it’s time to wait for their reactions. According to Alzheimer’s Association, some of the feelings children may experience are:

  • Sadness, because the person who suffers from Alzheimer’s is going to change.
  • Curiosity about the disease.
  • Frustration towards the new situation.
  • Concern about the different ways in which the person may act.
  • Fear of the possibility of other loved ones, including themselves, contracting the disease.
  • Insecurity about the way they may act in front of people who suffer from Alzheimer’s.

Then, you need to be comforting and supportive, and make children understand that their emotions are completely normal, and soon, they’ll get used to the situation.

      4. Use children’s books about Alzheimer’s

Nowadays, there are many children’s books that can help little kids understand Alzheimer’s. Here are some of the best titles:

  • Alzheimer’s: What’s the Matter with Grandpa?: This is a comic book written by neurologist Mercè Boada. This is a story about a boy who discovers that his grandfather has Alzheimer’s, during a vacation they spend together.
  • The Confusions of Matias: This book is about a distracted boy and his grandmother, who suffers from Alzheimer’s. He understands his grandma, because he forgets things, too.
  • The Fox Who Lost His Memory: This is a fable that explains Alzheimer’s disease through the experience of a fox.
  • El hada del Alzheimer (Alzheimer’s Fairy): In this story, the fairy queen from a fantasy place starts to behave in a strange way because she has Alzheimer’s.
How to Explain Alzheimer's to Children

The importance of explaining Alzheimer’s to children

It’s important to explain Alzheimer’s to children, especially if they’ll be in contact with somebody who suffers from it. If you don’t do it, they’ll be scared or confused in front of people with the disease. They won’t understand why they act in a weird way.

In conclusion, if you need to face this situation, remember these recommendations. Explaining Alzheimer’s to children might be easier than you think.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.