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How To Explain Dementia To A Child

Do People With Dementia Get Angry

Explaining dementia to children – Shaw healthcare – An animated poem

Living with dementia may mean that the person is concentrating a lot harder to do things that come easily to others and so can make them feel very tired or frustrated, a bit like how you may feel if you are struggling with school work you dont understand. Feeling tired and frustrated may make the person more short tempered and angry.Sometimes the person may feel anxious or afraid as they are struggling to understand what is happening around them.

Try to speak calmly to the person, tell them who you are and again share past memories and feelings with them. Try to remember it is not you they are angry with but the difficulties they are having. If you feel worried then always seek help from an adult.

How To Help Children Understand Dementia

  • How to Help Children Understand Dementia

  • November 26, 2018

    Author Jean Demetris shares tips for families on how to explain dementia to children and help them better understand the disease. Her book, Grandmas Box of Memories, speaks to children aged 4-7 years, and prompts a discussion about what they can do to be involved in the care of a grandparent or loved one with dementia.

    Learn more about the authors experience with the disease and about her book for children, below.

    Helping Children Understand Dementia

    Coping with dementia is distressing for everyone involved, including children. It is natural for an adult to want to protect the child when it comes to a dementia diagnosis, yet it is important to explain what is going on in a clear and calm way. The child needs reassurance that adults are there for them, and that they will be offered a discussion that includes the encouragement to ask questions about the disease.

    The child should understand that dementia cannot be cured, but that there are still ways that a child can help the person feel loved and wanted.

    In my research, I found that there were books for adults on dealing with dementia and with children in such a situation, but that the material available for children to help them understand the condition was extremely limited. This gave me with the idea to write a book about how young children can be more involved in the welfare of a family member with dementia.

    The result was: Grandmas Box of Memories: Helping Grandma to Remember. The books title refers to the box in which the main character Alice and her family create a box of memories to remind grandma of all the good times they shared together.

    I worked closely with my son, Alex Demetris, who did the illustrations for the book. For this I thank him.

    Have you helped children better understand dementia? Wed love to hear about it in the comments below.

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    For Children Ages Two Through Six Years Old:

    • Children as young as two may begin to develop ideas about illness.
    • Its quite common for children between the ages of two and six to ask questions about their grandparents disease.
    • Address their questions as candidly as possible.
    • If you dont know the answer to their question, just say so.
    • While you want to be strong and comfort your child, that doesnt mean you should hide your emotions. For example, if you are feeling sad, express it.
    • Remember that even though your child might continue to enjoy normal childhood activities like playing, that doesnt mean theyre not deeply affected by the illness.
    • Encourage your children to express their emotions with activities like reading a story together or working on an art project.

    How To Teach Children About Grandparents With Dementia

    Favor Home Care: Explaining Dementia to Children

    Contributed by Haley Burress

    Caring for your aging parent can be full of challenges and meaningful moments. If you add raising children into the mix, certain situations can get even more difficult to handle. If you are struggling with how to teach children about dementia, or why Grandma is confused, you are not alone. Over five million people currently live with Alzheimers disease and this number only increases when adding in the older adults with other types of dementia. Teaching your kids, or other children in your family, about dementia can be challenging. However, it can also be a positive shifting point in their relationship with their grandparent. Knowledge is power, right? So empower your kids by learning how to teach children about the dementia process. Here are a few tips to get you started.

    Dont shy away from questions.

    Kids are naturally inquisitive, so they might start to notice that Grandma forgets a name or two after a few visits. If your children start to ask questions, dont brush them off or switch the subject because you dont feel ready to talk about it yet. So much of how to teach children about dementia relies on you being honest and vulnerable. If you dont know the answer to their question, be honest and tell them as much. Their questions can be a great start to a conversation about what is happening with Grandma.

    Answer in age appropriate terms.

    Suggest different ways to connect.

    Reinforce the love.

    Use books.

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    Offer Guidance On Appropriate Behavior

    As you go about the business of explaining dementia to children, you need to teach acceptance.

    This is where you let the youngsters in on how to behave when they are around a person with dementia. This will generally be about practicing patience and acceptance.

    Prepare the children for any angry outbursts that the persons with dementia may have from time to time.

    Tell them not to take any mean comments or reactions to heart because it is the disease that makes their loved one act like that.

    They should also know that if the affected person is always asking the same question, it is because the part of the brain that holds answers is not working well.

    They should, therefore, not get tired of repeating themselves when need be.

    Do not force the youngsters to spend time with the ill individual when they do not want to. Just continue talking about the illness in small doses.

    Offering resources such as appropriate videos and books can also help them get a better understanding of the illness in a way that will make them change their mind.

    Be Honest About The Diagnosis

    Children are susceptible to everything that goes on around them – they pick up on things quicker than adults, as they are more often in a set routine. Because of this, theyâll notice if something is different. If there is going to be a change in the everyday family routine that will affect them, you should tell them before it happens. A sudden change in the routine with no explanation may leave your child feeling lost, confused and left out, which may result in them feeling rejected. Honesty is the best policy.

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    How To Explain Dementia To Children

    Children have a strong understanding of the world around them. However, when it comes to explaining an illness like dementia, it may be difficult for your child to understand what it means for both their loved one and for themselves.

    Having an open dialogue with your child is the best way to go. Beating around the bush or lying can make this difficult time harder for your child.

    However, knowing the right things to say and do isnt easy, especially if youre dealing with younger children. To help, weve created a guide to help you explain dementia to your children.

    How To Explain Alzheimer’s Disease To Children

    How to talk to young children about dementia

    I am so pleased to share this guest blog post from Laurie Zelinger, PhD, ABPP, RPT-S, author of the Please Explain to Me book series.

    Before we jump into the guest blog post, I want to share my review of Dr. Zelinger’s newest book Please Explain Alzheimer’s Disease to Me: A Children’s Story and Parent Handbook About Dementia:

    Finally! A book to explain Alzheimers disease to children in an easy-to-understand, developmentally appropriate manner! As a nurse and mental health counselor, I know how much this book is needed, as Alzheimer’s disease impacts almost 6 million adults. Please Explain Alzheimers Disease to Me not only offers children a chance to understand the many changes that a loved one may experience due to Alzheimers disease but also offers resources for adults to have meaningful conversations with their child.

    Zelinger’s book even includes a kid-friendly explanation of the changes that happened in the brain because of Alzheimer’s disease! There are many changes children need to understand and adapt to when a loved one has Alzheimer’s disease, and Please Explain Alzheimers Disease to Me is a gentle and realistic way to begin those difficult conversations. Parents will find the tips for families, and the question and answer section, especially helpful.

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    Alzheimer’s Facts And Figures

    Most people are familiar with the term Alzheimers, which comes under the broad heading of dementia. There are several other forms of the disease, but Alzheimers is the most well-known, accounting for 60-80 percent of cases of dementia. Last year, 6 million people in the United States were living with it and worldwide the number is reported to be about 50 million . Dementia is a brain disease that includes a specific group of degenerative symptoms that include memory loss, problems with language, thinking, reasoning, attention, planning and judgment. It is often accompanied by personality changes and a decline in overall functioning that impairs a persons ability to function in daily life . Alzheimers disease is not a normal part of aging. Although it more often affects people over age 65, early onset affects about 200,000 adults under the age of 65. The cause is not known, however genetics and family history are contributory.

    There is no cure for Alzheimers disease, a degenerative disease that leads to ultimate deterioration of all faculties. On average, individuals live 4 to 8 years after being diagnosed and by age 80, 75 percent live in a nursing home. While dementia cannot be reversed, there are 5 medications on the market which may be helpful in slowing its progression and others which can address the often troubling behaviors that accompany it.

    Compassionate Care For All Stages Of Memory Loss

    Bridges® by EPOCH at Pembroke provides assisted living memory care that is comfortable, positive, safe and engaging. Exclusively dedicated to caring for those with Alzheimers disease and other forms of dementia or memory impairment, weve created a wellness-focused lifestyle that promotes dignity and individual preferences. Our memory care professionals receive specialized and ongoing training designed to help residents maximize their independence in a secure, calm environment making a truly positive impact on the lives of our residents each and every day.

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    Talking To Children And Young People About Dementia

    Finding out that someone close to you has dementia is difficult for everyone. We all need time to adjust and come to terms with our feelings.

    Children and young people are no different. However, it can be harder for them, as they may not properly understand what dementia is, or they might find it harder to cope with their feelings.

    They might also be coping with things in their life they find difficult, or changes such as moving classes at school, puberty, exams, or university.

    Explain That A Dementia Diagnosis Is Not The Same As A Cold Or Upset Tummy

    How to Explain Dementia to a Child

    Children, especially very young children, may not know the difference between an illness you usually recover from and one that is permanent. Tell kids that grandmas disease is not like catching a cold or running a fever. Then clarify what it means.

    On the one hand, the disease isnt going to get better. The good part is that you cant come down with the illness when you are around your loved one. If your child is fond of hugging their grandparent or sitting on their lap, make sure they know they can still do that. You might want to say that being close to Grandma or Grandpa is more important than ever.

    Youll also want to be on the lookout for what some experts call magical thinking. This is the tendency for children to think that the things they say and do can change other people. For example, I got upset and yelled at Grandma and now she has Alzheimers. Is it my fault?

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    Be Ready For Their Questions

    Here are four common questions

    Does it hurt? No it doesnt hurt but she might get a bit annoyed or upset if she cant remember something.

    Can I catch it? Definitely not, it isnt contagious.

    Is she going to die? I hope not! Shes still as fit and strong as she was yesterday. We dont know what will happen in the future nobody knows when theyre going to die.

    Is it my fault? Definitely not, no one is to blame. If she sometimes acts a bit weird its not your fault either, its just the illness.

    If they dont seem convinced by your answers give them more information about dementia, or ask them to read this.

    What’s The Best Way To Explain Dementia To A Child

    It can be difficult to know how to approach a child who is affected in some way by dementia. Children, like adults, deal with a loved one who is living with dementia in different ways. A number bottle it up, some attention-seek and others get very upset and need constant support over a long period of time.

    Dont Try to Hide It

    Its best to be upfront with children from the beginning of a diagnosis, as it may be more upsetting for a child to find out later on. As always, honesty is the best policy. Explaining to a child that the reason their grandparent is acting in an unusual way is part of their illness and not aimed at them is important to stop any further upset.

    Give Them Time

    Allowing time for a child to express their feelings about how the diagnosis of a loved one is affecting them is important too. Its often surprising how much children can pick up, even if things havent been explained to them explicitly. It can be useful for them to be given time to open up so you can see how much they understand about whats happening.

    Visiting with Children

    If you decide to bring children with you to a nursing home where there are others living with dementia, its also wise to call ahead and make sure its going to be a good day to visit with a child. Calling in when there is an activity taking place or animals visiting the home may be the best time as it could keep their young minds occupied.

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    How Do You Talk To Children About Dementia Without Frightening Them

    Dont beat around the bush. Sit down with your child and give it to them straight:

    Grandma has something called Alzheimers disease. After all, the young people in your life are

    going to hear it sooner or later. When you explain things to them clearly yet gently, it cushions the fear factor.

    Of course, its important to lay things out in an age-appropriate way that your child will understand. Later in this article, well cover some guidelines for having a conversation about dementia with children of different ages.

    If a childrens hospital is nearby, they might have a Child Life Specialist. The job of a Child Life Specialist is to know how to explain health problems to youngsters. A social worker or nurse educator might be able to help too.

    There are also some good books about dementia education for children. Check out the Magination Press. They have a helpful childrens book about Alzheimers, such as My Singing Nana.

    When Should We Tell Children About Dementia

    Memories with Grandma

    It can be reassuring for children and young people to understand what the problem is. If they are not told the truth about what is happening sooner, they may find it difficult to trust what someone close to them says later on. It may also be more upsetting for the child or young person to find out about a diagnosis later, than to cope with the reality of what is happening now.

    Seeing how people around them cope with difficult situations can also help children and young people learn valuable skills about dealing with tough and distressing situations. This can help them to better manage painful emotions.

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    Why Its Important To Tell The Truth

    Think back on the time your loved one began to show symptoms of dementia, and how confusing and upsetting that may have been. Comprehending dementia when it happens may be even more confusing for children. Therefore, it is important to guide them right away.

    Its normal to want to shield children from difficult situations. However, children can sense tension or a negative atmosphere and will notice changes in behavior, even if the facts have not been told or explained to them.

    So its better for a child to find out about a loved ones diagnosis sooner rather than later. Being open and honest with the child will help them better understand and empathize with their loved one with dementia.

    Be Honest And Truthful

    What is dementia?

    Its a question that your child is bound to ask sooner or later and when it comes to answering, honesty is always the best policy. Children notice more than we often give them credit for, and it wont be long before they start to pick up on the little things, such as snippets of conversation or paperwork.

    As a result, its better to be honest from the beginning.

    While you wont need to go into specifics especially with younger children its important to let them know what exactly is happening.

    One of the best ways to handle this difficult conversation is to sit down with your child and explain that their loved one has dementia. Then, explain to them what this might mean and how, unlike the colds and stomach bugs theyre used to, this is permanent.

    For older children, you may want to explain some of the early signs of dementia or dementia symptoms that they can expect. This will help them prepare better.

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