Dementia can be a very difficult topic for children to understand. It is a scary condition not only for those suffering but also for their loved ones. Children will find it harder to understand why their grandparents are forgetting their names or why their behavior has changed. The symptoms become more obvious as time passes, and one will not be able to hide it from their loved ones. Your loved ones need as much compassion and patience as possible to cope with their disease, and this requires everyone to understand the condition better. These discussions should happen in a comfortable and safe space for children to be able to let go of their fear. Give your children time to ask hard questions and allow them to lead the conversation so that you can know their level of understanding. Here are some tips to explain dementia to children.
A fact that may surprise many is that children are very instinctive and can sense that something is wrong even before it is spoken about. They could even be the first ones to ask why their loved ones are not acting the way they are. When that scenario happens, you should be honest with your children and let them understand that dementia is a progressive, incurable disease. It can and will upset your children, but this honesty is important so that they know that they can trust you with their stories. It also opens an opportunity for them to talk to you about the progression of their loved one’s dementia.
Remind Them that Their Loved One Is Still There
Although your children will be upset that their loved ones have changed for good, you should remind them that their loved one is still in there and that they are still deeply loved by them. Allow them to understand that dementia will never take away the love they have for your children through the memories that may be lost. Remind them that their loved ones are not at fault for the disease they have, and let them know how they should act around them. Explain to them that they would need to be extra patient with their loved ones and remember that dementia is causing the changes and not out of their loved one’s will. There are even some things that can be done to help cope with dementia, such as yoga.
Explain the Condition
For your children to fully understand the condition of dementia, you should explain to them more about it. Let them know that it is unpredictable and will never have a consistent pattern. Explain to them that there will be days where their loved ones are okay and other days when they are not, but that does not mean that it does not exist within them. Let them know about the progression of dementia and how their loved one’s personality will change. When all of this is done, they will be able to understand that these changes are all part of the course of the condition.
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