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To Sam

My nan and Alzheimer's

So, My nan has Alzheimer's and I get really down because she can't remember me or my dad. and I don't know how to cope with all this sadness. Sometimes I just want to cry.

Can you help?

Ask Sam

Sam

Hi there,

It’s normal to feel sad when a relative or someone you care about has an illness or a disease. Some conditions can affect how well they communicate and understand things happening around them, so it might feel like they’ve changed a lot.

Sometimes these changes can make it difficult to recognise them as the same person.

Someone with dementia can have memory loss in addition to difficulties with language and doing everyday tasks. Alzheimer’s disease causes damage to the brain and it’s the most common cause of dementia. At the moment, there isn’t a cure for the disease but treatment can help to slow down the symptoms.

If someone you know has dementia, you’ll notice changes that can happen gradually at first. They might be more anxious or stressed as the symptoms get worse and they find it harder to concentrate and remember things. It can feel frustrating and upsetting if they can’t remember you and other family members.

It’s important to take care of yourself too, and get support for your own feelings. Sometimes it can feel like you’ve lost the person you knew, as they’re not the same as they used to be and you might feel like you’re grieving for the person, even though you still see them and spend time with them.

When someone you care about has an illness or disease that can’t be cured, it can help to keep a focus on happy times together. You could tell them how much they mean to you and talk about your memories.

Although you might want them to be how they used to be, try to accept them as they are now as much as you can, so you’re able to make the most of the time you have together.

Try to communicate with them, even if it doesn’t seem like they’re following what you’re saying very well. You might need to start conversations if they don’t, and try to speak clearly and slowly. Use short sentences and leave lots of pauses for them to reply if they’re able to.

You might need to focus more on communicating through body language and physical contact when speech is difficult for them. Keep eye contact, use facial expressions to help get a message across and a gentle tap on the hand to help get their attention. Remember, it can be frustrating when someone can’t communicate effectively or feels misunderstood, so try to be patient and listen.

Remember, you can always speak to a Childline counsellor when you need support.

Take care,

Sam

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