Helping children deal with a grandparent who has dementia

  • Mind
  • Saturday, 03 Oct 2020

It is never easy for children when their grandmother or grandfather has dementia, but activities like playing with toys and singing songs together are still possible. — dpa

When an elderly family member suffers from dementia, it becomes a challenge for everyone, even children, who often struggle to understand and deal with how grandma or grandpa are gradually forgetting things.

It can be a scary and confusing experience for children when grandma can’t remember the simplest things or when the grandpa is behaving strangely.

If a family member is suffering from Alzheimer’s or any other form of dementia, children should be given a clear explanation, say experts from Germany’s Alzheimer Research Initiative (AFI) association.

The United Kingdom’s National Health Service (UK NHS) says a common question from children when confronted with the reality that a grandparent struggles to recognise them, is: If they don’t remember who I am, what’s the point?

Children can be reminded that there will be times when the grandparent does know what’s going on.

If you happen to come at one of these times, it will make them happy to know that there’s a grandchild that cares about them, the UK NHS says.

Before visiting a grandparent with children, parents should consider a few activities that rely on grandma or grandpa’s strengths.

It’s generally still possible for younger children to play with someone suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, AFI experts say.

But parents should intervene every now and again so that everyone can take a break.

One thing that often works is for young children and grandparents to throw a balloon back and forth, or to sit and roll a ball to each other.

Another thing they can do is to build a house of cards together.

Normal conversations will likely be more difficult, but singing children’s songs together is often something that remains fun for everyone involved.

Small children can also try ask grandma or grandpa if they still remember what they liked to do or play when they were children.

Alzheimer’s sufferers often have good memories from long ago. – dpa

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Dementia , Alzheimer's disease , family


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