An image of a woman holding up the book "Gardening with Grandma"
Gardening with Grandma teaches families how to navigate dementia & Alzheimer's
by Meg Herndon

The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) has launched a new educational tool to help adults discuss Alzheimer’s disease with young children in an age-appropriate way. 

“Gardening with Grandma: An Alzheimer’s Story for Children and Their Families” is an educational children’s book created by AFA as a resource for adults, designed to be used as a teaching tool adults can use to open a conversation with children about Alzheimer’s disease.

 “When Alzheimer’s enters a family’s life, it often brings many questions—children especially may not understand what is happening or why their loved one is behaving a certain way,” said AFA President and CEO Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr. “This educational tool gives adults a way to explain Alzheimer’s disease to a child in an age-appropriate way, help them understand brain changes, provide tips on how to engage with their loved ones, answer questions and show them that love is a bond that Alzheimer’s can never break.”

 The story by Linda Bozzo, which is illustrated by Mudassir M. Abid, follows 8-year-old Luke’s experience as he finds new ways to connect with his grandmother, who has Alzheimer’s disease. Grandma, who is early in her diagnosis, shares with him that even though she has a disease that affects her memory and behavior, she still loves him. The story unfolds as Luke adjusts to his grandmother’s move to a new home that provides her with more support.

 “Gardening with Grandma” includes a special message to adults to help them have meaningful, age-appropriate conversations with a child when a close person in their life has Alzheimer’s, including guidance on how to initiate the conversation, sample questions to ask the child and tips to help them better understand.

“Even young children can and should be taught about dementia,” said Teepa Snow, founder of Positive Approach to Care. “‘Gardening with Grandma’ is a valuable tool for helping children understand brain change and empowering them with effective responses.”

“Young children, in particular, may sense something is amiss when a family member has Alzheimer’s, but may not be able to understand the subtle changes that are occurring early on in the disease progression,” said Jennifer Reeder, AFA’s director of educational and social services. “Reading this book together with your child and having a conversation can help make them more understanding and compassionate, less fearful and ultimately learn new ways to communicate with their loved one.” 

AFA also has a helpline that can provide information about discussing Alzheimer’s disease with a child or assistance with other Alzheimer’s-related questions. Reach the helpline by phone at (866) 232-8484, web chat at or text message at (646) 586-5283. 

“Gardening with Grandma” is available for purchase at in both English and Spanish. Proceeds go toward AFA’s programs, services 
and research.

Meg Herndon is managing editor for HomeCare Media.