Alzheimer’s Foundation of America Teens (AFA Teens) brings hope that is sorely lacking from the Alzheimer’s medical community. The younger generation is doing something that many of us older adults are not: bringing more awareness to a disease that most of us have been exposed to, either peripherally or specifically. “AFA Teens, founded by a teenager, seeks to mobilize teenagers nationwide to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s disease, and to engage, educate, and support teens and their families.”
As adults, we are affected because the person with the disease is our spouse, partner, sibling, or older relative. But what about the cousins, nephews and nieces, children, and grandchildren out there? Children and teenagers are also exposed to this disease. The challenges faced by teens who are actively involved with these relatives – living close enough to have frequent interaction with them – are challenges that adults have a hard time grasping.
“How come Pappy doesn’t recognize me any more?” “Why does mom always forget the things that are important to me – like my birthday!” That’s right; some teenagers have mothers or fathers with early-onset disease. What should be one of the most exciting times in their young lives is instead spent as a co-caregiver with their other parent. (I addressed this unfortunate family dynamic in my article, Alzheimer’s Heartache: young family members adjusting to a grandparent or parent with dementia.)
I strongly encourage you to visit the AFA Teens website. I know you will be encouraged by the efforts being made by these young advocates.