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Children are often bewildered and upset when a grandparent becomes ill. Telling your children that their grandparent has dementia can be difficult, especially if they are very young. They’re used to seeing a lively and involved grandparent who spends time with them. Suddenly the grandparent doesn’t notice them and is confused.

How do you tell your children that their grandparent has dementia?

  • Dementia can come on slowly or happen extremely quickly and sitting down to discuss the illness with your children is your first step. Don’t leave them wondering what is wrong as children tend to think the worse.
  • There are many books available for children to read that will explain dementia to them in easier terms. Buy them lots of books about dementia. Looks for videos that are for children at their age level that will help them deal with the changes in their grandparent.
  • Very young children often don’t have a problem adjusting to a grandparent with dementia. They are able to accept the grandparent as they are since they have no preconceived notions about adult behavior.
  • Be honest with your children. Tell them that their grandparent will not be the same as they once were but that some days they will be better than other days.
  • If the grandparent lives in a retirement home, bring your children to visit their grandparent frequently.
  • Don’t force your children to interact with their grandparent if they feel uncomfortable. Dementia is difficult for everyone and it may be better if they have something they can bring to give to the grandparent. Keep visits short.

How you, as a parent, deal with dementia will set an example for your children. If they see that you are upset more frequently, they will feel that is the way they should act. For more information on how to talk to your children about their grandparent’s dementia, read the full article here.