How to Talk to Children About Dementia
Talking to children about dementia can be challenging. Kids can become confused and anxious, as they may not understand what dementia and Alzheimer’s disease is, or why grandma doesn’t seem to remember them.
Eventually, as the disease progresses, they may also wonder why their grandparent needs special care. Children will need time to cope with their feelings and may need help and support.
The key to talking to children about Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia is offering explanations that are clear and easy to understand.
Listen to what your child has to say and answer questions as openly as possible to help them better understand. Let them know that dementia is currently a disease with no known cure.
This may upset the child, but it’s important to be straightforward. It’s vital to build trust early on as they may need someone to talk to as the disease progresses. Assure them that they can always talk to you about what they’re feeling.
Focus on the activities they can do to connect with their loved one. At home, children can assist with simple chores. If the loved one is living in an assisted living facility, plan activities that can be done together. It’s important for the person with dementia to still be engaged with their family.
Explaining dementia can be challenging, especially to young children. Reassure them that while dementia affects memories, their loved one is still there and loves them very much.
When is The Best Time to Talk to Children About Dementia
Everyone has their own method of parenting. However unique your approach, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia affect each person and their loved one differently.
It’s best to initiate a discussion to explain dementia to your child when they can clearly see a difference in their grandparent’s behavior or interactions.
Often times young children signal when they don’t understand something they’ve seen or heard. They may tilt their heads, or even frown about something that doesn’t make sense to them.
Or perhaps your child verbally questions everything they see or hear; “Why is the sky blue?” “Why are you wearing that dress today?” Or, “why does grandma ask us what day it is all the time?”
Understanding dementia and its effects aren’t always easy for children and loved ones, but this book provides an approach to the care and thought that’s needed to effectively explain this life-altering disease.
Regardless of any signals given, or the questions that children may ask about dementia, be ready! Be ready to have them describe any changes they’ve noticed in their grandparent. Ask how their grandparent’s noticeable changes make them feel.
Then, share basic information about the disease. Reassure them of their mutual love for one another and share ways in which they can help support their grandparent.
About The Book
This heartfelt story is crafted in an easy-to-follow manner that family members, caregivers, and teachers alike can easily relay to a curious child who is seeking understanding and guidance.
It depicts the love between a grandmother and granddaughter during a time when they experience the stresses of either having dementia or witnessing memory loss.
Grandma’s dementia is not allowing her to remember what time it is, recall where to find certain items in her kitchen, or even remember moment-from-moment what she is seeking.
Frustrated and bewildered, Grandma becomes moody, and even sad. Her granddaughter immediately picks up on these signs and wonders why the loving spirit Grandma has always shown her has seemingly evaporated.
Without the knowledge of her Grandma’s dementia diagnosis, or of the disease, the granddaughter begins to think her grandmother may not remember or love her anymore. This book is for all who are seeking ways to help children understand dementia.
Family members will find this book to be an invaluable resource.
Care givers will find new ways to explain dementia and its effects.
Teachers will want to discuss this book with students to broaden their knowledge.
Library story hour participants will see a different perspective.
Meet Evita Sherman
Evita’s passion is assisting the elderly, especially those living with dementia. Her mission is to help people age in the manner they envision for themselves and not through the lens of others. She works to provide data and resources to assist elders in effectively aging-in-place and equips their families and friends to support their loved ones amidst uncertainty.
Working in the eldercare field as a licensed nursing home administrator and Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS), Evita witnesses both elders and families make tough decisions. Some of those decisions result in despair, while others result in healing. The key to enabling elders to live life to its fullest is to help them find their voices and exercise their right to make their own decisions.
Evita collaborates with family and friends to ensure that her mother, who lives with dementia, and her father, recently diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment, maintain their voices and make well-informed choices as their disease progresses.
Remarkably, her mother has lived with advancing dementia for 11 years. In supporting her mother during this difficult journey, Evita has learned first-hand the effects of this disease on her loved ones, family, and peers.
While some family members and close friends chose to openly discuss her mother’s emotional and behavioral changes, others ignored or became angry at any signs of forgetfulness or wandering. Through the years her mother began to retreat within, preferring not to socialize with friends. She began to depend solely on her family for love and support.
Taking time to listen to a loved one affected by dementia, and emotionally support them as their needs change is as important as understanding the disease itself.
Evita Sherman - Author
Evita is available for podcasts, readings, conferences, library and classroom story hours and interviews. Reach out via the contact form.
Evita’s latest book has been featured
at Language During Mealtime on Becca Eisenberg’s podcast. Give it a listen.
Does Grandma Remember Me?
Available Through Mascot Books
This hardback edition of Does Grandma Remember Me? is available through Mascot Books for a price of $15.95