“Mom, why does grandpa act so weird? Why doesn’t he know who I am? We used to play games together and now he won’t even talk to me.”
If you have young children, tweens or teens, you may have been asked this question. How did you respond? Did you ever think about being asked this question and how you would handle it?
As Caregivers to our parents, we owe an explanation to our children no matter what their age. It’s hard enough to understand ourselves what’s going on and why this is happening; imagine a young person trying to make sense of this!
Being honest and open with kids of all ages is first and foremost. Never try to skirt around the subject. Never tell them you don’t have time to talk about it. When is the right time? Kids don’t want to be brushed off, especially when it comes to someone they love. You don’t like it if a doctor brushes off your questions, right? So be upfront and honest with your kids.
You have ways of communicating to children and young people about what’s going on with their grandparent(s).
One way is with books you can read together on the subject of dementia. AlzAuthors is a great resource for these books. Reading about brain changes with children can help you get the message across in a way you’re not able to express, or feel unsure how to communicate in the right way.
It doesn’t matter how young or how old your kids are, when it comes to wanting to know why their grandparents are not the “same” you must be ready to explain. It’s never easy to sit down with the family and talk about what’s happening with your loved ones, but it is something that has to be dealt with.
If you feel you might upset the kids by talking about what’s going on, just think how much more upset they will be if you don’t tell them. They are part of your family and there should be no shame or secrets when it comes to explaining brain changes. Kids are much more resilient than you may give credit.
Once your children understand what’s happening to their grandparent(s) you will be pleasantly surprised at the level of love and care they want to share with them. Kids have a way of dealing with issues that we adults seemed to have a hard time with. Because children are much more uninhibited about such things, they’re a natural for showing and giving compassion. The grandparent(s) will gravitate toward that compassion in ways you cannot imagine.
Never underestimate a young person’s capacity to understand what’s happening to the people they love.
Being open and honest with your kids allows them to see you are able to be transparent with them and in return, they can be the same way with you. It’s all about them trusting you knowing how much you love and care about their feelings as well.
If you’ve been procrastinating having this conversation, NOW is the time to sit down and tell them what’s going on.
Recite this verse to yourself:
“In quietness and trust is my strength.” Isaiah 30:15