Dementia can be a difficult condition for anyone to understand, but it can be especially challenging for kids. If their grandparent begins to show signs of dementia, children will naturally want to know why he or she is behaving differently. In these cases, it’s always best for parents to talk to their kids about the realities of dementia and what they can expect going forward. Here are five tips for talking to kids about dementia.
1. Be Honest
Many parents feel an instinctive need to shield their kids from the harsh realities of dementia. Honesty is always the best policy, and kids deserve to know the truth if they want to hear it. Broach the conversation by giving your kids the basic facts about dementia being a condition that leads to memory loss and personality changes. After your kids have some information, let them lead the conversation. If they ask whether your loved one is going to get better, don’t outright lie. There’s no known cure for dementia, and if your kids expect grandma or grandpa to get better, watching the disease progress will be more difficult.
If your senior loved one has been diagnosed with a serious condition and needs help with tasks like meal prep, transportation, bathing, and grooming, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of home care Tucson, AZ, families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.
2. Be Prepared
For many kids, the most confusing thing about dementia is its unpredictability. On one visit, grandma or grandpa may remember your kids’ names and seem relatively normal. On the next, he or she might seem forgetful and anxious. It can be difficult for kids to understand irrational behavior, and if your loved one’s behavior wavers, your kids may become hesitant or afraid. Prepare your kids for changes in your loved one’s mood or personality. If the kids know what to expect, they’ll be better equipped to process behavior that seems irrational.
3. Ask How They Feel
Dementia doesn’t just affect the person with the condition. It also touches the lives of the person’s family members, including his or her grandkids. After the initial explanation of dementia, intermittently check in with your kids to see how they’re handling the situation. Ask your children if they have any more questions when the symptoms of dementia become more obvious or whether they want to talk about their feelings. Kids need a safe space to process difficult situations, and they’re more likely to open up if their parents keep the avenues of conversation open.
4. Emphasize Compassion and Kindness
People with dementia don’t always have control over their behavior, and this can be difficult for kids to understand. Remind your kids that your loved one shouldn’t be faulted for his or her outbursts or behavioral issues. If your kids understand this, they will have an easier time approaching grandma or grandpa with kindness and compassion. If you approach your loved one with empathy, your kids will take your cue.
Consider hiring a professional caregiver if you need someone to provide care to your elderly loved one. Tucson senior home care experts are available to provide high-quality care to seniors on an as-needed basis. From assistance with mobility and exercise to providing transportation to the doctor’s office and social events, there are a variety of ways professional caregivers can help your aging loved one continue to live independently.
5. Find Bonding Activities
Seniors with dementia can still spend time with their grandkids. Before each visit, brainstorm activities that are appropriate for both kids and seniors. Options range from listening to music to making crafts to going for a walk.
Caring for older adults with serious health issues can be a challenging task. Families who find it difficult to care for their aging loved ones without assistance can benefit greatly from professional respite care. Tucson, AZ, family caregivers who need a break from their caregiving duties can turn to Home Care Assistance. Using our proprietary Balanced Care Method, our respite caregivers can encourage your loved one to eat well, exercise regularly, get plenty of mental and social stimulation, and focus on other lifestyle factors that promote longevity. To create a comprehensive in-home care plan for your elderly loved one, give us a call at (520) 214-5440 today.