- Written by Linda L. Osmundson Linda L. Osmundson
Talking to grandkids about dementia With America’s aging population, more and more people/children face some form of dementia through a relative. My husband has dementia, not Alzheimer’s but probably one of the many other forms. Unfortunately, the only accurate diagnosis comes with an autopsy.
I’ve learned a lot about dealing with dementia. For instance, little white lies are not only okay but necessary. They prevent arguments. A person suffering with dementia loses the ability to reason. Therefore, they are always correct, even when they are wrong. White lies save you from stress.
As a writer, I want to help parents show the progression of dementia which children might face with their grandparents. The short story below, “Papa’s Changes,” illustrates some common experiences caregivers, family members and especially children may encounter. These examples help a child understand what to expect. The story illustrates in actions how a dementia sufferer changes and how love can still be a part of the dementia process.
When my husband fell and broke a neck vertebrae, our grandson drew Papa’s picture. He included the walker with papers piled on the seat, the neck collar, his glasses and a big smile. As an activity, you might copy some of the examples of the story on separate sheets of paper and have the children draw the before or after. Or, divide the paper in half and draw both.
Share “Papa’s Changes” with your children who are facing dementia in their loved one.
My Papa has changed.
Papa liked to work in his garden. I helped him plant the vegetables. But now…Papa forgets to water the garden.
Papa liked to pull weeds from among the flowers. I helped him. But now…he pulls flowers as well as weeds.
Papa liked to play catch with my twin brothers. But now…Papa can’t catch the ball so he sits and watches them.
Papa liked to dance with Nana. Sometimes he even danced with me. But now…he falls and can’t clap in rhythm.
Papa liked to drive when he and Nana went on long trips. But now…Nana drives.
Papa liked to send me emails. I look and look for a new email. But now…he doesn’t turn on his computer.
Papa liked to treat our family to dinner in a restaurant. He figured the tip and paid the bill. But now…Nana pays the bill and we all thank Papa.
Papa liked to walk fast. He walked circles around Nana and me. But now…we hold his hands and slow our steps to match his.
Papa liked to tell stories about the “good ole days.” But now …he tells about walking to school in the snow again and again.
Papa liked to watch football on TV. He’d yell “Yea!” when the team made good passes and scored. But now…he naps and misses the touchdowns.
Papa liked to dress up in a suit, white shirt, and tie. But now…he buttons the shirt crooked and can’t tie the tie.
Papa liked to read stories to me. But now…I read to him.
Papa liked to call me Princess. But now…he can’t remember my name.
Papa has changed. But I still love him.