Forgotten Teens: How To Cope With Your Grandparent's Alzheimer's Disease

If your beloved grandparent loses his or her memory to Alzheimer's disease, you may feel helpless that you can't help him or her remember who you are. The helplessness may turn to anger because your loved one will eventually forget everything about his or her life as well. Your loved one's deteriorating health can affect you in numerous ways, including the way you feel about yourself as a teen. But as your grandparent receives the care he or she needs, you should also seek help and guidance. Here are steps you can take to overcome your negative feelings as you deal with the life-changing effects of Alzheimer's disease.

Talk to Your Parents

Although your parents may have a lot to deal with regarding your grandparent's care and well-being, you shouldn't be afraid to approach them and talk about your feelings. Your grandparent's deteriorating health and memory can affect you, especially when you see your loved one go through the mental and physical changes of Alzheimer's disease. Talking to your family can bring you strength and guidance you didn't think was there.

You may have problems approaching your parents because you don't want to add to their stress. But there are ways to approach your parents without stressing them or yourself. For instance:

  • Approach your parents on the weekend — The weekend is a good time to talk to your parents because they may be off from work. It gives you time to sit down to talk without the interference of taking busy phone calls, rushing off to meetings or other issues pertaining to your parents' job responsibilities.
  • Talk to your parents in the evening — If your parents have some time available in the evening, ask them of it's okay to talk about your grandparent. Try to approach them right after dinner or sometime before bedtime. But avoid approaching your parents right at bedtime, as they can be too tired to talk and won't understand what you have to say.
  • Plan family time away from home — You can take the initiative and plan family time for you and your parents. Choose a quiet place like the park to talk. The free time may create the ideal opportunity to express your feelings.

If none of the above tips help you, seek professional Alzheimer's disease counseling and assistance for family members.

Seek Counseling

Counseling is one of the best options for working through your problems. Many Alzheimer's disease organizations work with their clients' family members who need guidance and advice about their loved ones. The assistance teaches you many things, including how to cope with your anger as a teen. For instance, you:

  • Learn how to redirect your anger — This part of the counseling helps you avoid things that can hurt you, such as hanging out with the wrong crowd or skipping school. Instead, you learn to express your anger and frustration in positive ways, such as joining sports activities to clear your head or to blow off steam. 
  • Learn to accept that your loved one is ill — Counseling may help you accept that your grandparent is no longer able to be there for you the way you want him or her to be. However, you can learn to be there for your grandparent by visiting him or her as often as you can.
  • Learn to feel loved again — If you feel neglected because your parents spend a lot of time with your grandparent, you may feel unloved. Counseling teaches you to express this concern with your parents now instead of later. Negative feelings can create hostility and pain over time.

Counseling can be a great way to support your parents during this great time of need. Ask your parents to join you in counseling. It may bring you closer together as a family unit.

If you need help coping with your loved one's health condition, ask your parents to talk with a memory care specialist or counselor. You shouldn't feel forgotten during this tough time in your life.