I recently had the pleasure of speaking to four high school classes about dementia. This was an entirely new experience for me. High school students are not exactly my target audience, but they are certainly feeling the effects of dementia in their world.
We know that 10% of individuals 65 and over have Alzheimer’s. We also know that 50% of individuals 85 and over have Alzheimer’s. It would stand to reason these students have grandparents (or even parents) who have dementia. Helping the younger generation to understand is important.
The younger the child, the more delicate the explanation. Helping the child to understand Grandma’s inabilities needs to be handled in a way to bring understanding without belittling Grandma. A good conversation might sound like this.
“Joey, Grandma has a few problems remembering things. Would you mind helping her by reminding her of our trip last week? Could you tell her stories about when we stopped for ice cream? Ask her to tell you stories about growing up.”
This conversation would make Joey feel important and needed, and it would help stimulate grandma’s brain.
If the grandchildren are teenagers, I recommend being the source of good information. From about middle school on, our kids can understand what is happening on a physiological basis. They can process that information and use it to become efficient and wonderful caregivers.
In my opinion, educating our young folks is a must. As an individual is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s every 61 seconds, our world is becoming more and more populated by individuals with dementia. If we are training our kids to be good caregivers, we are preparing a brighter future for us all.
That’s just me pondering, and I hope it gives you Something To Ponder.
P.S. – Check out this wonderful book –
MY NAME IS CALLY.
It will help explain dementia to kids ages 9-12. –
Sometimes, You’ve Just Got To Laugh!