Dealing with a parent who suffers from some type of dementia is rather difficult, but if, on top of that, you have your own children to worry about, the whole situation becomes double the challenge. Still, keep in mind that you’re not alone. Many people face the same difficulties as you do and look for the best ways to approach their kids so that they can effectively help them cope with the change they see in their grandparent(s).
Try your best to answer the kids’ questions
It’s perfectly fine to open up to your kids on the matter of their grandparent’s dementia. After all, there’s no other way for them to learn more about this properly than by you talking to them. So, if they ask you questions, don’t hesitate to answer them. And if you happen not to know the answer, tell them so. There’s no reason to avoid this subject with kids when all they want is to understand what is happening to their grandparent better.
Of course, answer with the kids’ age in mind
As mentioned, being open with your kids about their grandparent’s condition is paramount if you wish to establish a better connection between your parents and children, and help the kids deal with the situation as painlessly as possible. But, you also have to provide the answers in an age-appropriate manner. You may be more open, logical and even use medical terms with a teenager, but if you have pre-school kids, use the simple terms they will understand.
Encourage the connection
Depending on the type of dementia and the overall condition of their grandparent, the kids can explore different ways to spend some quality time with them. Of course, you should suggest ideas as well. Sometimes it’s enough to watch TV together or have your kids read to the ill grandparent. And in case your parents enjoy some of the current dementia home care programs, the professionals on the matter can suggest activities that would both grandparents and children find entertaining. These programs are highly individualized with skilled and energetic staff that’s always there to help.
Share the fondness and love in your parent’s stead
In their state of confusion, your kids’ grandparent may not be able to express all the love, pride and fondness they feel for them. Not to mention that younger kids may misunderstand the behavior and think that their grandparent no longer cares for them. This is why it’s so important to talk about all the loving and nice things the grandparent has said about your kids and communicate the love they feel for the youngsters.
Make the most out of available literature
You don’t have to rely on your power of explanation only when it comes to helping your kids cope with their grandparent’s dementia. Thankfully, you can also utilize some books that carefully and engagingly deal with the whole process of dementia change. For instance, books such as Still Alice or Dancing with Rose are good for older kids, while the younger kids may benefit more from books like Still My Grandma or The Memory Box. If necessary, you can read it to them.
Whatever unfortunate situation you may find yourself in, don’t leave your children in the dark. They deserve to know what’s going on with their grandparent. What’s more, being able to understand what’s happening to their grandma or grandpa will help them overcome their own insecurities, and spend some more quality time caring and enjoying the company of their grandparent. This will mean the world for all of you as a family.