Talking to Children About Alzheimer’s Disease

It can be difficult to talk to your children about a loved one’s diagnosis with Alzheimer’s disease. That family member’s day-to-day activities and interests may change quickly because of the disease, and caregiving is challenging in itself. Your children will also be affected. To help them understand the disease, it is best to be open with children and explain the changes clearly.

Some things for children to know:

  • Alzheimer's is not a disease they can catch from their relative
  • Their loved one’s behaviors may change, and that isn’t the child’s fault
  • Not everyone who is older will get Alzheimer’s
  • Children can’t get Alzheimer’s 
  • It’s all right to be frustrated or sad about the changes
  • Scientists are looking for a cure for Alzheimer’s, but there isn’t one yet

Also, reassure your child that they can still have meaningful experiences with their loved one. Some good activities to do together include gardening, watching favorite shows on television, putting together a scrapbook and reminiscing, reading or doing other household activities. It is still possible to enjoy life while living with Alzheimer’s, and children can make positive memories with that family member.

Tips for talking to older kids and teens

Visit the Kids & Teens page on the Alzheimer’s Association website, opens a new window or on the National Institute on Aging website, opens a new window for more information about how to talk with older kids and teens.

Library Resources

Check out this list of picture books for children about grandparents. Some of these might help spark conversations with your children about what they are feeling and experiencing.

For the love of grandparents

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Looking for more resources about Dementia? Visit the Older Adults & Care Partner Resources page or schedule an appointment with an Older Adults Services Librarian for more information.