Montana residents who wish to help their children or young relatives better understand Alzheimer’s disease can now access a free storybook and reading guide.
The reading guide, offered by the Montana State University (MSU) Extension program, includes questions to spark discussions about the storybooks and children’s activities. It also includes information about emotions children may feel about the neurodegenerative disease.
“The goal of these guides is to help the reader fully engage themselves with the child while at the same time following with the concepts of the book,” said Jennifer Munter, project co-collaborator and grant manager for the MSU Extension rural prescription opioid misuse education and awareness program, in a press release.
“By doing so, the reader and the child may gain a better understanding of the feelings children encounter and the perceptions they may have about the behaviors a person with Alzheimer’s disease may show. When children gain knowledge about the disease and ask questions, they may have an easier time adapting to the changes they see and experience.”
Munter and co-collaborator Marsha Goetting, an MSU Extension family economics specialist, have lost family members to dementia-related disorders. Munter’s father-in-law had Parkinson’s disease, and one of Goetting’s parents had Alzheimer’s. Munter, who had a long career as an early-childhood teacher, is a recent MSU graduate who helped to develop the reading guides during her senior year.
“Jennifer had over a decade of experience working with children and their families, so her ideas for questions and activities to enhance the storybook’s lessons were invaluable,” Goetting said.
The eight illustrated storybooks are titled “Ferguson the Forgetful Frog,” “A Garden of Flowers,” “My New Granny,” “The Remember Balloons,” “Still My Grandma,” “Striped Shirts and Flowered Pants: About Alzheimer’s Disease for Young Children,” “What a Beautiful Morning,” and “When My Grammy Forgets, I Remember: A Child’s Perspective on Dementia.”
In the storybook descriptions, for example, “Ferguson” is a frog with dementia. The author, Marta Schmidt Mendez, uses the animated character to help young children understand and talk about the condition. The story explains the challenges someone with dementia could face, the feelings they could have, and the behaviors dementia may cause.
Reading guides are provided for each book and may be downloaded here. For “Ferguson,” questions to ask include: What does it mean to have dementia? What are some of the things Ferguson needs help doing? And where will his love for the people around him go?
The guides also include children’s common reactions to Alzheimer’s-related dementia, possible activities to complement the storybooks, and a listing of other resources.
One storybook is available per person. Go here to order.
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