How do you explain Dementia/Alzheimer's to children?

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Mother is in the early stages of dementia, currently living with my sister since Christmas. I have 3 grandchildren under the age of 7 and am having a difficult time explaining the disease so that it will be on a level they can understand. I visited with my mother and sister this weekend and when I saw my grandchildren they wanted to know how "NaNa" was doing that they knew she was sick. They love being around her. The only thing I could come up with is that her brain is sick. But that just didn't seem to be enough.
Any suggestions on this would be greatly appreciated.

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Expert Answer
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Your problem is unfortunately a common one, and very difficult to deal with. Please read the article below for some information and tips. Good luck. It's not a straight line, no matter what you do, as dementia is progressive and the kids will have to keep adjusting.
I explained to both adults and children that the brain is a little like a light bulb, that sometime the little connectors just do not work all that well at times. Sometime people with dementia and Alzheimers understand what is going on and other times the little connectors were not working all that well. Just like a light bulb sometime it starts to flicker when the power go out and then other times it works well.. This worked well with my daughter who at the time was 4 years old as my mother had Alzheimer's and she would say that nana's brain was flickering.
Please read the comment that was made to me under Prophet from a question I asked yesterday titled "I am hurt. The first answer was so helpful and yes it something wrong with the brain." It's so hard to explain to children because as an adult I really don't understand. My daughter just says Granny is sick and doesn't remember things anymore and we have to help her remeber. I think sometimes she can handle this more than I. Its difficult. Please read that answer it really helped me,
I've explained it that Grandma's not feeling well. Her Brain is sick. It's similar to a spool of yard unwinding......sometimes it stops and she stays in certain places of her lifetime.......Grandma just isn't the way she used to be, she needs lots of tender love and understanding, especially when her Brain gets stuck, because she knows it's stuck sometimes and it makes her really nervous, affraid and embarrassed. Be patient with Gramma, try to pretend nothing is wrong unless you see Grandma doing something that you know you aren't supposed to do and she could harm herself.
"What's Happening to Grandpa" is a good book to help kids understand. I think it's by Maria Shriver.
I think the first thing we should do is to understand that Alzheimer's is the disease and dementia is the result of the disease. So many times I hear people refer to their loved one as having a little dementia. When we come out of the "closet" and not be ashamed of this devastating disease, we might be closer to a cure.

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