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.
Don’t Try to Hide It
It’s 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. It’s often surprising how much children can pick up, even if things haven’t 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 what’s happening.
Visiting with Children
If you decide to bring children with you to a nursing home where there are others living with dementia, it’s also wise to call ahead and make sure it’s 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.