New picture book helps explain Alzheimer’s to children

Staff Writer
Baystateparent Magazine
Baystateparent Magazine

Alzheimer’s and dementia can be a difficult subject to discuss, especially when talking to a child. Watching a loved progress through the stages of Alzheimer's disease can be frightening, even for adults, so imagine being a child struggling to understand why grandma is acting so strangely or can't remember who you are. 

A new picture book created by the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America can help parents introduce the subject to children. Dancing with Granddad takes young readers on an age-appropriate learning journey with Nia, a 7-year-old girl, whose grandfather has Alzheimer’s and will need to move to a new home where he will be safer. 

The book gently introduces Granddad’s behavior changes (such as retelling stories, wandering, and confusion) while sharing the constant of the wonderful relationship between Nia and Granddad and her loving parents who are caring for him.

The book also includes a message from AFA about how to introduce a conversation with children about Alzheimer’s disease.

“Young children, in particular, may sense that something is amiss when a family member has Alzheimer’s, but not be able to understand the subtle changes that are occurring early on in the progression of the disease,” says Jennifer Reeder, LCSW, AFA’s Director of Educational & Social Services. “The best time to talk to children about Alzheimer’s or any dementia-related illness is as soon as you can. This conversation is about nurturing and maintaining the bonds between the family members while also helping to eliminate the fear of the unknown for the child, educating them in an age-appropriate way, teaching them how to be compassionate, and learning new ways to communicate.”

The book is available at the AFA e-store atshop.alzfdn.org or by calling 866-232-8484. All proceeds go toward AFA programs, services, and research for treatment and a cure.