Thursday, May 24, 2012

Books on What to Tell Children About Alzheimer's

How can you explain the changes Alzheimer's brings to a grandparent to children? Two children's books help.

In The Memory Box, by Mary Bahr, published in 1992, Zach tells the story of visiting his grandparents for three weeks on summer break. He looks forward to fishing with Gramps and eating Gram's cooking.

One night early in the visit Gramps tells about a memory box that his father, Great Gramps, had given Gramps. The idea is that an old person and a young person fill the box together so that "no matter what happens to the old person, the memories are saved forever." The three characters decide to make a memory box for Zach and Gramps. Pictures, a recipe and written stories are put in the blox. More will be added.

One day, on a walk Zach notices changes with Gramps. "That day it seemed like his body walked with me, but his thoughts strolled somewhere else." Another day Gramps wanders off without shoes. When found, Grams explains, "The mind doesn't go all at once, or all the time, but it never comes back the same way."

At the end of the visit Zach was sent home with the memory box to add things to it for the next summer when he would come back.

Maria Shriver has written What's Happening to Grandpa? published in 2004. The book is about a girl named Kate who was taught "always, always to stick up for your family." Kate's family always visited the grandparents on Sundays, and one Sunday Kate noticed that Grandpa kept repeating the same storeis and didn't remember what he had done earlier in the day. Kate notices when her Grandpa gets angry because he can't find something and he yells at Grandma. Kate asks her mother about this behavior and finds out that he has Alzheimer's. Mom tells her he will begin to forget more and more and says
That's why it's so important to cherish who he is today.
One Sunday Kate chooses to be with her Grandpa instead of with her friends. She explains to them: "Alzheimer's is when you lose your memory. You get confused and ask the same things over and over. It starts slow and gets worse with time." That Sunday Kate works with her Grandfather to make an album of pictures. She writes down what he tells her.  


Character Shawn, a disabled young person in Stuck in Neutal by Terry Truman, writes:
Memory is all we have, for ourselves and for the people we love. The memories of us, once we die, are all that's left of us.
For the believer, there is more; life in heaven awaits where there will be no more Alzheimer's. Meanwhile there are grandchildren  who need simple answers that these two pictured books provide. They can cherish the memories of grandparents while there is opportunity.


  1. I think it's wonderful that books have been written for children to understand this disease. They sound like a wonderful help.

  2. Hey there! I just stopped by to catch up. The last I read was a "Shot of Joy" which I loved. The posts since are very informative and helpful. I don't respond every time I read, but you are doing a very good thing here with Plant City Lady. I know you are an encouragement to caregivers that come in contact with you. I have mentioned that since my dad had dementia and his father as well, I am going to be informing my siblings about all that I have learned through knowing you, and perhaps we can disrail the possibilities we each may have and push back dementia/Alzheimers. If only we had known about the benefits of coconut oil while my dad was still living.

  3. Books helping children understand Alzheimer's would be a good benefit for them.

    Undortunately, my grandchildren have experienced too much firsthand information. I hope and pray that someday ..soon..there will be a cure.

    Thanks for your helpful info,,
    Hugs and prayers

  4. I love finding out more children's books that help them to understand the real world. Thank you for sharing.

    BTW, we have a picture book on memory loss called 'Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge' by Mem Fox. A sweet little book about a little boy who goes finding items to represent memories to give to his friend who seems to has lost her own memories.

    Praying for you and your dear hubby.

  5. Jake's granddaughter has such a better relationship with Jake, my friend Sally reported, after she read Maria Shriver's book. Kerry, would love to borrow that book sometime. I would love to loan you Maria Shriver's book, but I have sent that to my husband's grandchildren.