Making sense of the world can be difficult for kids, but making sense of the world when an adult in your life is struggling with memory loss is even harder. It's hard to talk about, hard to understand and hard to deal with your feelings and questions. It can be sad and confusing for everybody, including the person with memory loss. Treasured memories are lost, shared times are forgotten and the whole family may struggle to adapt.
If someone in your family has Alzheimer's disease, you may have seen that person forget your name or your face, become confused in an everyday situation, or do something that has embarrassed you. It is important to remember that Alzheimer's disease only happens to older grown-ups and it doesn't mean that they don't care about you anymore.
There are still ways to spend time together as a loving family. The Alzheimer’s Association has resources for families, including videos, and "Alzheimer's Disease: The Mind Robber" explains the disease and recommends activities you can do with a loved one with Alzheimer’s. You can also read a story together as you spend time as a loving family.
Stories to Read Together
In Forget Me Not, Julie begins to notice that her grandmother is forgetting to water her plants and perform other household tasks. She is sad to see how different visits with Grandmother are now and worries about spending time with her when she can't live by herself. Van Laan's cool toned illustrations and the forget-me-not flower are a soothing treatment of Julie's worries.
Lucy's Little Mamá Forgets, in fact, Little Mamá has forgotten how to do many of the things that she needs to do in order to take care of herself and Lucy, but her family celebrates all the special ways she remains a part of their everyday lives.
If our memories were brightly colored balloons in a bunch, we would see our bunch grow as we got older, and we might see the balloons of others drift away. In this beautiful, gentle way, Jessie Oliveros explains the concept of memory loss to young children in The Remember Balloons. James sees his grandfathers balloon bunch get smaller and smaller, but finds some small satisfaction in adding to his own balloon bunch as he spends time with his grandfather retelling their stories.
Tamika is frustrated, and a little embarrassed, to have to introduce herself to her grandmother each time they visit her—especially when she thinks about how things used to be. A forgotten scrapbook helps Tamika find a way to help her grandmother regain some of her memories. While it's not what Tamika had hoped for—Momma Lou doesn't regain her memories—Tamika has made new memories for herself by Singing With Momma Lou.
Chapter Books to Read by Yourself
In Curveball, Pete, sidelined from baseball with an injury, develops a new interest in photography—a love he shares with his grandfather. While he learns to examine the world through the lens, it is what Pete sees going on with his once sharply focused grandfather that freezes the frame.
While Jake remembers the grandfather he once knew—who valued kindness and believed in everyone—he has to face a disturbing role reversal as his grandfather's caregiver and begin to accept his grandfather as he is with the hope that his life will become a little lighter in The Graduation of Jake Moon. This title paints a realistic picture of memory loss from a child's perspective.
In The Secret Life of Lincoln Jones, Lincoln, is good at keeping his home life secret from his school friends until a nosy classmate pushes her way into the assisted living facility where he helps his mother in her job as a nurse in the memory loss ward. It gets real when they realize how a neighbor and a classmate are affected by memory loss.
We hope you will find in the stories above a way to share and unpack this difficult topic as we remind ourselves that no matter what, our family members with memory loss are always family.