Dementia is a difficult diagnosis for anyone to process. However, while adults and caregivers are able to understand dementia as a medical condition, kids comprehend it on a much more emotional level as their elder loved one slowly changes before their eyes. Below are a few tips for talking to children about an elderly loved one's diagnosis.
How to Talk to Children About Dementia
1. Be Honest But Age Appropriate
When addressing the subject of dementia with kids, tell them openly and honestly about what the condition entails and how it will impact their loved one. Don't dismiss it as quirky behavior or a part of growing older. Explain to kids that dementia is an illness like any other and that it affects an elderly person's abilities to remember and do everyday things. Use age-appropriate language, bearing in mind that while the subject can be scary to your child, your words don't have to be. Invite questions and give gentle but truthful answers. Assure the child that they cannot catch dementia and that it is safe to be around their loved one.
2. Encourage a Continued Relationship
It's normal for a child to wonder if and how their relationship with their loved one is going to change. As you have conversations with your child about dementia, encourage them to maintain their normal relationship with their loved one as much as possible. Tell them that there will likely be an increased need for caregivers, medicines, and doctor visits, but their loved one will still have time for them and want them around. You may need to simplify some of the previous activities the child and their loved one enjoyed together. However, by fostering a continued bond with someone who has dementia, a child will still feel valued and loved by their loved one — and the loved one will feel the same way.
3. Prepare for Challenges
A person with dementia might experience mood swings or personality changes, so discuss this possibility with your child. Again, remind the child that dementia is an illness and that people can't help it when they get sick. Confirm to the child that no matter what their loved one may say or how they might behave, the child is still loved and cherished, and the elderly individual is still worthy of respect and dignity.
If someone in your life has been diagnosed with dementia, trust the caregivers at Compass Homecare. Serving the Anchorage, AK, area, they provide adult in-home care for those who need assistance with the tasks of daily living. Their senior care services are tailored to the unique needs of every client. To schedule a caregiver, call (907) 276-6960 or visit them online.