Helping Children Understand Alzheimer's Disease

Thank you for taking time to visit this web site and learn about The Magic Tape Recorder, a book I have written to help children understand some of the changes experienced by people as they age. The book explains that some older people experience problems with vision, others have a hard time hearing or perhaps need assistance walking. Unfortunately, a significant number of people experience the memory loss that is the primary symptom of Alzheimer's disease (AD) or another dementing illness. When a person has AD, remembering things that have just happened become more and more difficult, as the disease progresses With over five million Americans living with Alzheimer's disease, this disease impacts the lives of many children. During more than thirty years of working with people who have Alzheimer's disease or a related dementia, I have seen too many instances where grandchildren stop visiting their grandparents because they don't understand why grandma can't even remember their names. When memory loss is explained as a "broken" tape recorder, the children can understand that when a grandparent can't remember their name it's not because they don't care about them it's just because their tape recorder is not working. Alzheimer's disease takes enough of a toll on families; it should not rob them of a relationship between grandparents and their grandchildren.

The Magic Tape Recorder is based on a program I have been offering to elementary school children for over 10 years. I have discovered that when I show children how to be "helpers" to people, who can't hear very well, have vision problems or can't remember things they are not uncomfortable with maintaining a close relationship with them. When I started doing these programs, most children had not heard of Alzheimer's disease. Now when I ask a class how many have heard about it, many hands are raised and then quite a few tell Grandma Joyce that they have a grandparent who has AD or has died from it. The book has received wonderful reviews from experts in the field of aging and most importantly from the children who have read it. Some parents have told me that they never understood short-term memory loss until they read the book. I hope that it is a book for all ages for children in many countries.

As so many things in life, The Magic Tape Recorder has taken on a life of its own. I live in Florida during the winter months and in Prague, Czech Republic in the summer. The book has become international as I have collaborated with a very talented artist Inka Delevov who has drawn colorful illustrations to support the text. The book has been translated into Czech and was launched at the United States embassy in Prague. This year it was translated into Greek by the Greek Alzheimer's Society. As people live longer all over the world, Alzheimer's disease has become an international problem that affects children all over the world. The Magic Tape Recorder provides one way to help them understand memory loss.

I am also available to anyone that may want to sponsor a Grandma Joyce event in a local school or library. I offer sessions at conferences on educating children about memory loss as a single session or as a plenary speaker with children on stage interacting with Grandma Joyce.

Hugs to all from "Grandma Joyce"
Joyce Simard, MSW