Alzheimer’s is a powerful disease, affecting not only its victims but also those around them. We often forget the plight of the family members of Alzheimer’s patients, particularly the children involved.
Understandably, Alzheimer’s is a difficult disease for children to comprehend. It often has no physical manifestation, no visible signs that there’s something wrong. When Grandpa or Grandma can’t remember a child’s name, the child cannot help but be hurt and confused. What happened to their close relationship, the love between grandparent and grandchild? It’s so easy for the child to think it’s somehow their fault that the grandparent doesn’t seem to love them or even remember them anymore.
Luckily, books have been helping our children understand complicated situations for years. As the Alzheimer’s epidemic grows, so does our need for a kid-friendly way to explain it. And now we have one.
Christie A. Engelfried is the author of Elephants Never Forget – Daisy’s Story, a children’s book about an old elephant named Daisy who is her herd’s “beloved leader.” As she ages, she becomes forgetful and irritable and even gets lost one day. It is then that her family realizes she has a problem and needs their support and encouragement as she struggles with this incurable disease.
Beverlee Beale, a retired executive director for curriculum at Moore County Schools in North Carolina, has this to say about the book:
The reader, along with Daisy’s family, discovers that shared understanding of Alzheimer’s disease alleviates fear and that supportive love provides immeasurable comfort. ‘Elephants Never Forget, Daisy’s Story’ is an inspirational story of a family’s love and support for their loved one. Read it with your family to initiate the discussion of Alzheimer’s disease. You will find understanding and comfort in this family’s journey.
If you know someone with Alzheimer’s who has a young child in their life, please consider telling their family about this amazing story. As Alzheimer’s continues to affect greater and greater numbers of people (including more and more children), it’s important that we teach them to cope with it, regardless of their ages.
If you’re struggling to comprehend Alzheimer’s yourself (which many of us are), click here to watch as a man undergoes an experiment to better understand what his mother’s disease is like for her on a daily basis.
Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?