Right at Home’s Kristin Canny Urges Conversation with Kids About Alzheimer’s
Kristin Canny, owner of Right at Home in Plymouth, an in-home senior care provider, says talking to children about Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia can better help children understand what grandparents or other loved ones may be experiencing.
“It helps them understand what’s going on, helps them not be afraid of their grandparents and it also helps them understand what may happen,” explained Canny.
The Alzheimer’s Association says 50 million people worldwide are living with the brain disease.
Canny says the first thing parents should remember when discussing with children about the disease is to remember their own behavior.
“Anything that you are doing as an adult child with your parent is going to be mimicked by the child. You want to make sure you don’t correct them . You should redirect different conversations, not telling them they are repeating themselves,” said Canny. “You want to keep everybody comfortable. The more frustrated you get with your parent, the child sees that.”
Instead, Canny says try to encourage the child to develop empathy.
“They can understand that dad or grandma is scared too and they don’t know what’s going on with their body. It helps them understand and cope with the situation better,” said Canny.
Canny says to remember that honesty is the best policy.
“Be age appropriate, but do have an open and honest conversation so they understand that,” said Canny. “Be direct and clear.”
Canny advocates that being honest and upfront with children can help them be less fearful of the situation. Canny says focus on the grandchildren spending time with grandparents doing chores and household tasks like setting the table.