Daily Bulletin


The Conversation

  • Written by The Conversation
imageSurveys of children revealed they don't like being lied to about the degenerative condition. Author provided

Why does Grandpa keep forgetting my name?

Why does Mum do silly things like put salt in my hot chocolate?

With 900,000 Australians expected to be living with dementia by 2050, these are the types of questions more and more children will be asking as they come to know someone living with dementia. But are parents, caregivers and educators prepared for these questions?

Alzheimer’s Australia’s first national survey of dementia awareness last year would suggest that the answer is no, with people with dementia reporting low community awareness and understanding of the condition.

So how do we talk to kids about dementia and what do they want to know? I recently ran focus groups and interviewed over 40 children, people with dementia and the loved ones - including children - of people with dementia. This is what they told me.

1. Tell the whole truth

Children want adults to be completely open and honest about dementia. In the words of a 10-year-old boy:

I wouldn’t say everything will be okay because I hate – I absolutely hate it - you’d rather someone say to you, yeah, your grandma’s never going to get better.

We need to tell children that there is presently no cure for dementia and that the health of the person with dementia will get worse. This may be upsetting, but is important to ensure your child’s trust. If you are unsure about how much to say, let your child ask the questions. This will help you gauge your child’s current level of understanding.

imageKids need to know why grandma does silly things like put the keys in the fridge.from www.shutterstock.com

2. Remind children that their loved one is still a person

Remind your child that Grandpa is still Grandpa, that Mum is still Mum. A 12-year-old girl said:

It’s important to know that there is actually a person underneath […] they’re not just some random now they’ve got a disease […] they’re still special.

Children with a loved one with dementia were also emphatic that knowing it’s not the fault of the person with dementia, and that they cannot help or control what they do, was the one key thing that helped them understand the change in their loved one.

3. Prepare children for the unexpected

Parents spoke about the unpredictability of dementia and how it was confusing for their child. Children told me that inconsistencies in the behaviour of a person with dementia made them wonder whether the person was making the behaviour up.

Dementia is different for everyone. We need to emphasise this and talk about all the behaviour changes that people with dementia can experience. Children described the changes they saw in a loved one, such as in personality or mood, rather than memory loss, as being the hardest to understand. Fear often comes from the unknown; so by keeping your child informed, it may reduce any fear that your child may feel around your loved one.

4. Brainstorm activities for children to do with a loved one

Fear or awkwardness around people with dementia can also be because of not “knowing what to do”. Children can listen to music, look at old photos, show videos on their iPad, play games, or do craft with their loved one with dementia.

This also means the time spent with their loved one is likely to be fun and happy. Parents should emphasise that showing love and kindness is key and, most importantly, that you do not need a good memory to have a good time.

imageFind something children can do with their loved ones.from www.shutterstock.com

5.Look for positives

The children described some beautiful positives:

they’re cool in a way because they are quirky […] I liked that they were different.

We need to seek and share positives with children. Emphasise the good times; for example, take photos of your child and your loved one together during happy occasions.

These findings are informing the development of a government-funded education program for Australian schoolchildren about dementia.

Some children and grandchildren of people living with dementia have already started the conversation about dementia. They have spoken candidly about what it is like having a loved one with dementia, in a bid to help other children better deal with the condition. You can watch their videos here.

Jess Baker receives funding from NHMRC and Dementia Collaborative Research Centres

Authors: The Conversation

Read more http://theconversation.com/five-tips-on-how-to-talk-to-kids-about-dementia-46924

Writers Wanted

Five things to know about the Antichrist

arrow_forward

New modelling finds investing in childcare and aged care almost pays for itself

arrow_forward

The Conversation
INTERWEBS DIGITAL AGENCY

Politics

Prime Minister Interview with Kieran Gilbert, Sky News

KIERAN GILBERT: Kieran Gilbert here with you and the Prime Minister joins me. Prime Minister, thanks so much for your time.  PRIME MINISTER: G'day Kieran.  GILBERT: An assumption a vaccine is ...

Daily Bulletin - avatar Daily Bulletin

Did BLM Really Change the US Police Work?

The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has proven that the power of the state rests in the hands of the people it governs. Following the death of 46-year-old black American George Floyd in a case of ...

a Guest Writer - avatar a Guest Writer

Scott Morrison: the right man at the right time

Australia is not at war with another nation or ideology in August 2020 but the nation is in conflict. There are serious threats from China and there are many challenges flowing from the pandemic tha...

Greg Rogers - avatar Greg Rogers

Business News

Top 3 Accident Law Firms of Riverside County, CA

Do you live in Riverside County and faced an accident and now looking for a trusted Law firm to present your case? If yes, then you have come to the right place. The purpose of the article is to...

News Co - avatar News Co

3 Ways to Keep Your Business Safe with Roller Shutters

If you operate your business in a neighbourhood or city that is not known for being a safe environment, it is not surprising if you often worry about the safety of your business establishments o...

News Co - avatar News Co

Expert Tips on How to Create a Digital Product to Sell on Your Blog

As the managing director of a growing talent agency, I use the company blog to not only promote my business but as a way to establish ourselves as an authority in our industry. You see, blogs a...

Adam Jacobs - avatar Adam Jacobs



News Co Media Group

Content & Technology Connecting Global Audiences

More Information - Less Opinion