How to explain mental illness to DCs

(3 Posts)
Cezzy Wed 20-Feb-13 22:57:03

MIL has been in hospital for 4 weeks and we have just been told they suspect she has Alzheimers and cognitive impairment, she is very agitated, has obsessive behaviours, hallucinations and confusion and recently had a seizure. The children have not been to see her as DH felt the ward she is on is not a suitable place for them. She is coming out next week but we are not sure how she will be and if she can stay home, depends on how FIL copes. DH is obviously upset, me not so as we have always had a bit of a difficult relationship. DCs are 9 and 11 and they know nanny is unwell but not details. FIL was upset tonight and has been over for tea each night, quite down each time,DD1 had a big tantrum tonight and goes on about why we are here as we are all going to die anyway. I said to DH that we need to tell them what is happening as I think they suspect something is wrong and we are maybe holding back from them. Has anyone else experienced this situation as I would really appreciate some advice how to explain this to them without scaring them. Sorry it's long.

MamaMumra Sat 23-Feb-13 21:09:12
thingamajig Sat 23-Feb-13 21:23:17

Be calm, tell them the truth and an explanation of what to expect if they see her. They are old enough to understand quite a lot if they are interested, the alzheimer's society has some info here that you could look at together.
Reassure them that she is unlikely to die soon (unless something indicates otherwise) as it sounds like your dd thinks that this is likely (and why wouldn't she, if her GM has been in hospital for 4 weeks and people are avoiding the subject). Talk about why DH and FIL are upset.
It is not so different telling children about mental than physical illness (especially one that is seen as a part of ageing). Her odd behaviour is a symptom of her illness just like sneezing is a symptom of a cold.
I hope the above does not sound perjorative, and I hope you all have a good talk soon.

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