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Tips on How to Explain Dementia to Grandkids

Caring worried senior grandpa comforting sad grandson give psychological help

If you’ve been caring for your senior parent with dementia, you have probably come to realize that your relationship will be different from now on. One of the major, most noticeable changes is how you communicate. Altering and adapting the ways in which you communicate with your loved one is essential to maintaining a strong bond and minimizing stress. Although you may understand this is the reality of the situation now, your children may have a hard time even understanding dementia as a whole and how it affects their grandparents.

If this sounds like your current predicament, our team of memory care specialists in Camden County have compiled different communication tips to help better explain dementia to grandchildren.

Tip #1: Start the conversation with full transparency. Be open and honest by offering an age-appropriate explanation to their grandparent’s diagnosis. Try to explain what dementia is and how it will affect grandma or grandpa. For example, grandma may forget some things that may seem easy for everyone else to remember such as the day of the week or your birthday. Reiterate that she is not doing this on purpose and that she may exhibit more changes as time goes on without going into too much detail. There’s no need to alarm them by stating there’s no cure at this time, especially if their grandparent is in the very early stages of dementia and showing very mild symptoms.

Tip #2: Encourage them to ask questions. As scientists and memory care specialists are still researching and questioning many aspects of dementia, it’s only natural for grandkids to have questions too. Allow and encourage them to work through their feelings and curiosity surrounding this memory condition. We’d also like to point out that it’s OK not to have all the answers yourself. If your child asks a question you’re unsure about, gently remind them that it’s a good question to ask and that you’ll get back to them with an answer as soon as you have it.

Tip #3: Comfort them and let them know it’s not their fault. It’s normal for kids to be upset, confused, or even scared of this type of news. They may be afraid of getting dementia themselves or worry that they are doing something to trigger their grandparent’s memory loss. That’s why it’s important to reassure them that what they’re feeling is completely normal and that you also share those same thoughts. It’s also important to remind them that if grandma or grandpa lashes out towards them, it is absolutely not their fault. They did not “cause” this negative reaction – it’s a part of the disease.

Tip #4: Show by example. Undoubtedly, the best way for your child to learn is to have a good role model to follow. Whenever you have the opportunity, show them how to interact with and understand their grandparent with dementia. More importantly, teach them how to react if grandma or grandpa has a bad day and lashes out.

Memory care for seniors and support for caregivers in Camden County NJ

One of the best ways your loved ones can maximize their cognitive abilities and retain their independence is through accessing professional memory care at a reputable senior community. At UMC at Collingswood, Tapestries memory care residents have the opportunity to live in a caring, home-like environment where they are safe to enjoy their hobbies and have meaningful experiences every day.

We also have Life Enrichment Team Specialists on site 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to provide specialized care for memory care residents, which includes exercises to improve and strengthen cognitive function. Our specialists are also available to answer any questions you or your family may have and to ease any stress about your loved one’s transition into our memory care neighborhood.

If your loved one is showing early signs of dementia, please call 856-369-3092 to find out how we can successfully meet the needs of your senior parent. To learn more about Tapestries memory care in Camden County, please contact United Methodist Communities at Collingswood or visit our website at: https://umcommunities.org/collingswood/

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