Thursday, June 19, 2008

Children Talk About Grandparents and Dementia, Alzheimer's Disease (Video 6:30 mins.)

Dementia refers to a group of conditions that gradually destroy brain cells and lead to mental decline. Many conditions can cause dementia, but Alzheimer’s (Ahlz-high-merz) disease is the leading cause. Most people who have the disease are over sixty-five, with eighty being the average age of diagnosis.

So often, we hear about responses of adults regarding parents with dementia. But what is dementia like through the eyes of grandchildren? Imagine their emotions when a loved one forgets their names and can’t remember the relationship they have. What about the hurt feelings children experience when an agitated grandparent with dementia strikes out at them verbally or physically and they’ve done nothing to cause this?

Dementia must be explained to children in age-appropriate ways that can support them in their adjustments to the dementia of a grandparent. Listening to children’s concerns and encouraging them to express them are important. Family discussions can be helpful for everyone.

Parents should be aware of changes in children’s behavior at home and school. Children need reassurances that they are not the cause of a grandparent’s mood swings, that they are still loved by the grandparent who has an illness that sometimes interferes with the expression of that love. They should be reminded of the many good times in the past that they shared with a grandparent.

In this video, children talk about their experiences of having grandparents with dementia.

Frances Shani Parker, Author
"Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes”
Hospice and Nursing Homes Blog


  1. The early stages of Alzheimer's and other causes of dementia can be difficult to spot, but there are some signs that are useful in spotting the disease.

  2. Caring for a spouse, parent or a loved one with memory loss, Alzheimer's disease or any other types of dementia requires a commitment to cope each day with patience, compassion and flexibility.

    Dementia Clinic