CambridgeACT on Alzheimer’s: Children, teens and Alzheimer’s disease

The CambridgeACT on Alzheimer’s Survey Team

In an effort to raise awareness, educate our community, reduce the stigma associated with Alzheimer’s disease and assist families who have been touched by Alzheimer’s disease; this month’s article highlights how Alzheimer’s disease impacts family life in regard to children and teenagers.

It’s important to talk with children and teens so they understand what is happening to the person who has Alzheimer’s disease. How children and teens are affected will depend on these factors:
• Who is it who has the disease; a parent or grandparent, relative or friend.
• How close the child is to the person.
• Where the person lives; in the same home or out of state.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association there are many feelings and reactions that children or teens may feel. They may feel:
• Sad about changes in a loved one’s personality and behavior.
• Confused or afraid about why the person behaves differently.
• Worried the disease is contagious and they will get it.
• Worried 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 given to the person with Alzheimer’s.
• Embarrassed to have friends or other visitors to the house.

Children and teens may express their emotions in ways that are unfamiliar or unrecognizable to you:
• 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.

Here are some simple ways to help children and teens cope a little better with this situation:
• 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.

We have resources right here at our fingers tips at our local library.

East Central Regional Library in Cambridge has an array of resources for our community that will provide education, information and materials related to Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.

There is a new collection of books, DVDs and audio books available for you to check out. Also available will be Brain Fitness Kits. Brain Fitness Kits contain four games that stimulate and engage your brain. Recent studies have shown a direct link between playing games and retaining brain function.

This is true for people as they age, but all ages will enjoy these games.

These are great resources for families to use to engage children and teens with the person who has Alzheimer’s disease. These materials are ready for you to check out now. For more information contact Sarah Hawkins, East Central Regional Library Resource Librarian at 763-392-0122 or email is [email protected]

The Alzheimer’s Association has a kids and teens web section to help children and teens learn more about Alzheimer’s disease and understand how it affects them.

It concludes printed resources, book reviews and links to sites that explain how the brain works, www.als.org/mnnd.
Source: Alzheimer’s Association

“Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family.” ~ Kofi Annan

Dementia Friends offered through Community Ed
Learn more about dementia and Alzheimer’s and how people’s lives are affected by it. You’ll learn five key messages about dementia and what it is like to live with it.

In addition, you’ll learn how to become a dementia friend and turn your understanding into action that can help someone with dementia living right here in our community.

You’ll see how actions can be big or small and that every action counts. There is no charge for this class and anyone can become a Dementia Friend. Registration is required. Sessions will be offered on Thursday, May 11, from 2-3:30 p.m. and Thursday, May 18, from 7-8:30 p.m. Call Community Education at 763-689-6189 to register.

For more information about the CambridgeACT on Alzheimer’s call Julie Tooker at 763-691-6192. For caregiver support and information about local resources contact Jayne Mund at 763-689-8811.

Your input and assistance is valuable. Let’s ACT together to create and sustain a dementia friendly community. There is Hope. There is Help.

• Alzheimer’s Caregiver Support Group meets the third Tuesday of the month from 10-11:30 a.m. at Mill Ridge Terrace, 235 Fern St. N., Cambridge. Contact Molly Carlson for more information at [email protected] or call 763-691-6172

• Alzheimer’s Association, Minnesota-North Dakota Chapter, www.alz.org/mnnd, 800-272-3900, 24-hour helpline.