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FAQ and Answers for parents and children who have a family member with Alzheimer's

What is Alzheimer’s Disease?

It is a disease that slowly destroys the brain and prevents it from working properly. After a period of about eight years, the brain is completely ruined.


What goes wrong in the brain of a person with Alzheimer’s Disease?

The nerve cells get tangled up and stuck together.


How do you get Alzheimer’s Disease?

Doctors do not really know what causes Alzheimer’s, but they are working hard to figure it out. They do know you don’t ‘catch’ Alzheimer’s from others like you do the flu. So, it’s all right to hug someone with Alzheimer’s like you might have done before they had the disease.


What kind of behaviors might you see in people with Alzheimer’s Disease?

  • Forgetting things

  • Getting lost

  • Not recognizing you, your family and friends

  • Not being able to do the things they use to do like cook, clean, & drive

  • Asking the same thing over and over

  • Telling the same story over and over

  • Arguing and hitting

  • Wandering around at night

What activities can you do with someone with Alzheimer’s Disease?

Most people with Alzheimer’s enjoy activities such as singing familiar songs, dancing, reading stories aloud, playing quiet games, looking at old family pictures, making a memory book, and coloring. Just remember, they may not be able to participate as well or as much as they did before they got the disease. It’s important to be calm and treat them with respect.


When should children interacting with someone who has Alzheimer’s Disease
ask for help from a responsible adult?

It’s time for a child to get help when he/she starts to feel uncomfortable or nervous. For example, call an adult when the person with Alzheimer’s starts to argue, wander around, or needs help with eating or going to the bathroom.


Tips for successful interaction with someone with Alzheimer’s Disease?:

  • Pick a time for the visit when both the person with Alzheimer’s and the child are in a positive mood. Time of day for interaction is best between late morning and early afternoon. Avoid evenings.

  • Be aware of either the child or the person with Alzheimer’s showing signs of restlessness. End the interaction while they are still enjoying each other. Short, frequent, meaningful interactions are better than a few long interactions.

  • Make sure activities are age-appropriate for the child. The person with Alzheimer’s probably a parent at one time and is familiar with playing at the child’s level.



  • - a place to learn and share

  • - has a template for a memory book.

What is Mackenzie’s Monsters?

Mackenzie’s Monsters is a book series designed to help children face issues that arise when people in their lives are coping with both physical and emotional challenges. The Alzheimer’s book is based on a true story about a child and her Gran (Grandmother) who has Alzheimer’s Disease. The purpose of the story is to teach children about Alzheimer’s, and to give them ideas how to interact meaningfully with someone who has this disease. The book is not yet available, but in the meantime we are sharing this important information.


About the authors:

Alder Allensworth, RN, MM, LMHC has been counseling people with Alzheimer’s and their families as a music therapist, hospice counselor and nurse for over 25 years. Alder’s mother died of Alzheimer’s Disease in August of 2010. Alder assisted her father in providing care to her mother for over eight years. During this time the grandchildren were the highlight of her mother’s life. With time, patience and support the grandchildren learned to interact in a meaningful way with their grandmother despite the disease.


Brenda Freed has an MA in Music Therapy/Music Education with an emphasis in Counseling. She pioneered the music therapy program at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics where she worked with clients of all ages and diagnoses, including Alzheimer’s Disease. She currently teaches voice, piano, and guitar privately to all ages, and in workshop situations. She is a performing singer songwriter with nine music releases. She also has developed and markets a line of Effortless Music Instruction products.


Alder Allensworth is available to provide workshops and support to families and children who are affected by a loved one who has Alzheimer’s Disease. Brenda Freed is available for book presentations at libraries and schools.
Contact: Phone: 727-560-7502


Copyright Alder Allensworth & Brenda Freed 1/15/2017 


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