By Joy Loverde
Day One the test results are back and confirm that you have Alzheimer’s disease. What are your plans for Day Two? Stay in bed, pull the covers over the eyes and cry like there’s no tomorrow? Yet, there is a tomorrow. And many tomorrows after that. If you do not take charge from this moment on, everything will be decided for you – like it or not.
As you begin to battle the disease, your family is experiencing struggles of their own including grandchildren who may not completely understand how your illness will eventually take its toll on them. If you are assuming that your grandchildren do not notice that something is wrong, think again.
Initially, they may be wondering why you no longer ask them to do fun activities together or feel hurt that you don’t laugh with them as much as before. They may think it is strange that you don’t remember their names.
The reality is that children are observant and worry when someone they love changes their behavior towards them, and worse yet seems to have disappeared from their lives. Grandchildren have questions that deserve answers. And right now, the best person for that task is you.
If you have recently been diagnosed with a dementia-related illness, the time is now to sit down with your grandchildren and read them When My Grammy Forgets, I Remember: A Child's Perspective on Dementia by Toby Haberkorn.
In the author’s words, “Alzheimer's and other dementia conditions are adult topics; but this book is written in a simple, straightforward manner that children ages 4 to 10 years old can understand. The lovely drawings convey the warmth and sensitivity of the family’s journey.”
Research has shown that dementia can dramatically change the relationship between grandparents and grandchildren, and it doesn't have to be all negative. Being as honest as possible and offering clear explanations offers grandchildren the kind of respectful reassurance they deserve. No doubt, you’ll feel better, too.