How to explain about dementia to children and young people.
Finding out that someone close to you has dementia, and then coping with it from day to day, can be distressing for everyone involved. It can be particularly challenging explaining things to children and young people. The Alzheimers Society has a useful factsheetfactsheet which explains how children and young people can be affected when someone close to them has dementia. It also suggests how parents can talk to their children about the condition and ways to help them feel secure and involved.
Lymington Dementia Action Group recommend a number of books about dementia for children and teenagers:
- One of the best picture books on dementia is Grandma by Jessica Shepherd, dealing with a difficult topic gently yet honestly. A beloved grandmother becomes increasingly forgetful and finally moves into a home, but her grandchildren still enjoy her company.
- In Lovely Old Lion by Julia Jarman, King Lion becomes forgetful and muddled, but his friends and grandson Lenny support and care for him.
In many middle grade books, children flung into a difficult situation go back in time to explore their problems and a grandparent's dementia.
- The memory cage by Ruth Eastham has Alex, adopted from Bosnia by a British family, struggle to help his granddad retain his memory. The trouble is that the memories are painful because they've both survived wars.
- War also features in Grandpa's Great Escape by David Walliams. In this humorous tale, a former spitfire pilot escapes from his care home, which is run by the evil Matron Swine.
- A particularly good teen book is Unbecoming by Jenny Downham. Katie, 17, is dealing with a crush on her best friend and her parents' separation when her estranged grandmother appears. The story is told from the viewpoints of Katie, her mum and grandmother. All ages from teens to adult will enjoy this book.
Grandma by Jessica Shepherd, (Child's Play, 2014), 32 pages, £5.99, ISBN: 9781846435973.
Lovely Old Lion by Julia Jarman, (Andersen, 2016), 32 pages, £6.99, ISBN: 9781783442188.
The Memory Cage by Ruth Eastham, (Scholastic, 2011), 240 pages, £5.99, ISBN: 9781407120522.
Grandpa's Great Escape by David Walliams, (Harper Collins, 2015), 464 pages, £12.99, ISBN: 9780007494019.
Unbecoming by Jenny Downham, (David Fickling, 2016), 440 pages, £7.99, ISBN: 9781910989029.