Carrie Steckl, also known as Dr. Chill, has outlined six ways to help children and teens learn more about Alzheimer’s and develop coping strategies.
1. Talk to them. If you’re at a loss about how to talk to your child or teenager about such a difficult topic, check out the Alzheimer’s Association resource, Parent’s Guide: Helping Children and Teens Understand Alzheimer’s Disease.
2. Have them read. The publishing industry has recognized the need for books about Alzheimer’s that are geared toward youth. Here’s a list of books recommended by the Alzheimer’s Association, sorted by appropriate grade level: Information for Children and Adolescents.
The list also includes: Showing them quality videos. Finding quality TV shows. Having them learn actively. And you talking to other parents.
For more great advice, check out Steckl’s list.
Further reading, for young people, suggested by the Alzheimer’s Association
Juvenile Fiction Preschool
Abeele, Veronique van den; illustrated by Claude K. Dubois. Still my grandma. Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, UK: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2007. A young girl describes her special relationship with her grandmother, both before and after Grandma contracts Alzheimer’s Disease.
Altman, Linda Jacobs. Singin’ with Momma Lou. New York, NY: Lee & Low Books, Inc., 2002. Nine-year-old Tamika uses photographs, school yearbooks, movie ticket stubs, and other mementos to try to improve the memory of her grandmother, who has Alzheimer’s disease.
Ballman, Swanee. The stranger I call Grandma: a story about Alzheimer’s disease. St. Cloud, FL: Jawbone Publishing Corp., 2001. Andrew’s beloved grandmother is acting strange. When she has to come live in his house, Andrew’s life is suddenly turned upside down. Grandma scares his friends and accuses him of things he did not do. He hates her. Mom has to explain to him why grandma acts as she does. They learn what they need to do to make life tolerable for everyone.
Billington, Carin; illustrated by Keturah Stevens. Grandma can’t remember: so I remember for Grandma. Mustang, OK: Tate Publishing & Enterprises, 2007. Grandma Can’t Remember was born out of the real life experience of the author whose mother had Alzheimer’s disease. The book is written from the viewpoint of a young granddaughter as she tries to understand, as well as accept, her Grandma’s new life robbed of her memory.
Fox, Mem. Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge. Brooklyn, New York; La Jolla, California: Kane/Miller Book Publishers, 1985. A small boy tries to discover the meaning of “memory” so he can restore it to an elderly friend.
Glass, Sue. Remember me? Alzheimer’s through the eyes of a child = Te acuerdas de mi? Green Bay, WI: Raven Tree Press, LLC, 2002. This bilingual tale centers on a girl whose grandfather has Alzheimer’s disease. The little girl thinks that her grandfather cannot or doesn’t want to remember her. She knows her mother is upset. It must be something she did or didn’t do. But what? She mistakenly blames herself, not only for her grandfather’s lack of memory but also for her mom’s sadness.
McIntyre, Constance R; illustrated by Louise McIntyre. Flowers for Grandpa Dan. St. Louis, MO: Thumbprint Press, 2005 “This story in this picture book follows a family through the complete progression of Grandpa Dan’s illness, providing a springboard for family discussions. The book also contains an informational page, provided by the St. Louis Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, that offers facts and suggestions to help adults talk with children about the disease in a candid and supportive way.”
Rosenbluth, Roz; illustrated by Maurie J. Manning. Getting to know Ruben Plotnick. Brooklyn, NY : Flash Light Press, 2005. This is a story about school-age embarrassment and senility. David is worried about how a popular boy, Ruben Plotnick, will react when he meets Grandma Rosie, whose senile moments cause her to say and do unexpected things. The result is unexpected encounters and surprises.
Sakai, Kimiko; Arai, Tomie. Sachiko means happiness. San Francisco, CA: Children’s Book Press, 1990. Although at first five-year-old Sachiko is upset when her grandmother no longer recognizes her, she grows to understand that they can still be happy together.
Shriver, Maria. What’s happening to grandpa? Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Company, 2004. Kate, a bright and wise young girl, decides to understand her grandfather and help him and her deal better with his Alzheimer’s disease by making a scrapbook G
Thurston, Dorie. Thank-you for the thistle. White Stone, VA: Dorie Books, 2001; http://www.doriebooks.com This is the story of Great Aunt Nellie and her feathered friends. When her nephew Brent notices the golden finches have stopped coming to the bird feeders because Aunt Nellie forgot to find their favorite food, Brent steps in to help.