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  • Writer's pictureNicole Will

A Toolkit for Children to Learn About Alzheimer's Disease

caregiver support aging parents willgather podcast

A Toolkit for Children to Learn About Alzheimer's Disease with Alder Allensworth, MM, RN, LMHC & Brenda Freed, MA, MUS Founders of Mackenzie Meets Alzheimer's Disease

How do we bring children and families into our interactions with our loved ones and maintain those positive relationships during difficult times? My guests are Alder Allensworth and Brenda Freed, the Founders of Mackenzie Meets Alzheimer's Disease.

The inspiration behind Mackenzie Meet's Alzheimer's Disease Educational Program is based on the true story of the interaction between Alder's eight-year-old niece and Alder's mother who had Alzheimer’s disease. Alder realized that there was a lack of resources to help children learn, understand and interact with their loved ones living with the disease.

With over 4 million people in the U.S. in the sandwich generation caring for loved ones, this toolkit provides families with education and support as they create positive memories with their loved ones from diagnosis through disease progression. Improving the quality of life for the family is the focus of this program that highlights Mackenzie, an 8-year-old-hero. Once she learns of Gran's diagnosis, she goes on a journey to learn about the disease and how to develop a positive relationship with her loved one using art, music, and dance.

Alder and Brenda have worked with children and older adults in their professions and they are bringing all that knowledge with them into this program. It was a joy to meet these kindhearted women. Thank you, Alder and Brenda, for creating a wonderful resource for children and families.

Alder and Brenda share about:

  • Their personal story and motivation for developing the program

  • Who benefits from the program

  • Why it's essential for children to be involved with their loved one who has Alzheimer's disease

  • How to explain Alzheimer's disease to children

  • The role that children play in the lives of their loved one who has Alzheimer's disease

  • When and why should a child ask a responsible adult for help

  • What are some activities that children can do together in the different stages of the disease

  • Tips for adults for those incorporating their children into the care of a person with Alzheimer's

  • How we can access the Mackenzie Meets Alzheimer's Educational Program and use it as a resource

About Mackenzie Meets Alzheimer's Disease

Alder Allensworth, MM, RN, LMHC

Alder is a counselor and a registered nurse. The inspiration for this project came from Alder’s personal experience watching her Mother who had Alzheimer’s disease interact with her grandchildren (Alder's nieces and nephews).

Professionally, she worked with children and geriatrics, including those with Alzheimer’s disease. Allensworth has also published several articles in professional journals. She won a Richter Publishing book contract in 2017. Her book, Prevail: Celebrate the Journey, is available on Amazon and has a five star review rating. She is a speaker and presenter in the field of disabilities on local, national and international stages. Allensworth has been featured on CNN, local and international television and newspapers for her life’s work of promoting quality of life for all people with disabilities.

Brenda Freed, MA, MUS

Brenda is a music educator/music therapist and performing singer songwriter with several published albums of original material. As a music therapist, Brenda worked with a variety of populations including children and people who had Alzheimer's disease. She has also published music therapy articles, a poetry magazine and an arts & entertainment magazine. Brenda teaches guitar, piano and voice privately, and teaches voice and vocal harmony workshops at festivals and conferences. She has produced a line of Effortless Music Instruction products and coordinates the Young Artist Performance Incubator (YAPI) program at the renowned Kerrville Folk Festival. Brenda currently performs in the Him & Her Trio.

About Mackenzie

The Mackenzie’s Meets Alzheimer’s Educational Program is based on the true story of the interaction between Alder’s 8-year-old niece, and Alder’s mother who had Alzheimer’s disease.

In the Program, Mackenzie is an 8-year-old hero. After being told her Gran has Alzheimer's, she goes on a journey to learn about the disease, and to figure out how she can help her Gran. Mackenzie discovers how to maintain a meaningful relationship with her Gran using art, music and dance.

Join Mackenzie as she learns how to enJOY and interact with her Gran. This multi-media Program will help your family have quality time with your loved one who has Alzheimer's disease, or any type of dementia.

The Mackenzie Meets Alzheimer’s Educational Program is a digital and downloadable video-based, multicultural, multimedia educational program. The Program includes an animated Mackenzie Meets Alzheimer's Disease Story Song Video that is the perfect introduction to Alzheimer’s for children, and the following 5-video Mackenzie Meets Alzheimer’s Disease Educational Video Series: What is Alzheimer’s Disease? (6 min. 28 sec.), Mild Stage Alzheimer’s Disease (9 min. 30 sec.), Moderate Stage Alzheimer’s Disease (11min. 45 sec.), Severe Stage Alzheimer’s Disease (7 min. 15 sec.) and Coping with Alzheimer’s Disease for the Responsible Adult with Children (26 min. 39 sec.).

The videos describe what is happening in the brain of someone who has Alzheimer’s, the signs of each stage of the disease, and activities to do in each stage with a loved one who has the disease. We’ve also included a video for responsible adults to assist them in coping and caring for their children and their loved one. The Program videos are extremely accessible because they are concise, as demonstrated by the length of the videos provided above, and they are digital, making them available anywhere there is internet service. The Program also includes the downloadable Mackenzie Meets Alzheimer’s Quick Reference Guide that highlights information in the videos, making the information accessible whenever it is needed. Transcripts of the videos are available for the hearing impaired upon request, and there is a lyric video of the animated story song for the early reader and for the hearing impaired of any age.

LISTEN NOW: Apple Podcasts, Spotify & on your favorite podcast platform.

We are not medical professionals and are not providing any medical advice. If you have any medical questions, we recommend that you talk with a medical professional of your choice. willGather has taken care in selecting its speakers but the opinions of our speakers are theirs alone. Thank you for your continued interest in our podcasts.

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Nicole Will is our host and founder of willGather.

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