When a senior loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia, it can be very difficult to talk about, even as adults. However, helping children to understand can prove to be especially challenging. If you have a senior loved one making the move to be a resident at our memory care living in Oceanside, we want to help any young children or grandchildren better understand. Keep reading to learn some tips that we have to offer.

1.) Be Straightforward and Simple

When it comes to explaining your loved one’s disease to a child, it can be tempting to water things down or skip over some of the not so pleasant parts. While it is important to express these things in language that is age appropriate and explain it in a way your child understands, it is also vital to keep things straightforward so as to not cause any further confusion. This can be a delicate balance, but open and honest communication is always the way to go. 

Make sure to answer any questions the child may have, listen to any thoughts or fears that they express, and let them know that you are always available to hear them out throughout the entire process. If you need some guidance for your child specifically, feel free to talk to your senior’s doctor or to have a conversation with one of our staff members at memory care living in Oceanside. 

2.) Explain That Their Senior is Still the Same Person

Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease can impact a person in different ways. This could include memory, speech, fine motor skills, and more. If these signs and symptoms do crop up, reiterate to the child that their senior loved one is still the same person.

Be sure to explain that there are just some things that are going to happen to their senior loved one that they can’t control, as much as they wish they could. Encourage your child to still view them as the same person they know and love because it’s true. Remind them that there is nothing to be afraid of, and that their grandma or grandpa still loves them very much. 

3.) Shift in Mood and Behavior Are Inevitable

One of the hardest aspects about Alzheimer’s or dementia is the sudden shifts in behaviors or mood swings that can occur. It is vital you prepare your child for these moments, as they can be the easiest to take personally and are inevitable as well as unpredictable. There are some key touch points you need to go over, including explaining that sometimes grandma or grandpa might get confused and not know where they are. They also might not remember their loved ones from time to time, including their own children and grandchildren. They might even ask questions that are sort of confusing. Prepare your child in advance for the fact that each visit could be different, or they might get asked the same things over and over. 

Be sure to emphasize that when these behaviors do occur, that it’s not your child’s fault and that they did nothing wrong. Give them the opportunity to discuss their feelings and thought processes after you are back at home together, taking the time to answer any questions and tackle any tough emotions. Ensure to your child that the staff at our memory care living in Oceanside are going to help grandma or grandpa get back on track and will make sure that they are well taken care of. 

4.) They Can Still Have Fun Together!

Just because their senior loved one has been diagnosed with dementia doesn’t mean that they still can’t have fun together! There are a whole host of activities that young ones and their seniors can do to spend quality time with each other. Think back – is there something that they liked to do together prior to grandma or grandpa becoming diagnosed with dementia? A shared activity both parties enjoy will make for a more comfortable, welcoming environment, even if your senior is having a hard time remembering that day.

If you can, make time to supervise these activities, especially if it involves something like baking or cooking. Or opt for other fun and creative activities such as arts and crafts, something hands on that can create keepsakes to cherish for a long time to come. Even something as simple as looking through old family photos can be an excellent way to connect and bond with one another.

Activities are a great way to stimulate your senior’s brain as well! Puzzles, board games, arts and crafts, playing music – you name it, and your child and senior will have fun spending time together. Don’t forget to take lots of pictures, too!

A senior man and his granddaughter laugh and play together outside

5.) Start the Discussion

The most difficult part of all might be figuring out how to start the conversation. While there is no easy way to go about it, it’s important to do all the same. Remember to be open and honest with the child, as well as remaining compassionate and understanding about their questions or responses. Also, keep in mind that you will also serve as an example for them when you’re interacting with your senior loved one. Try to be as patient as possible as you navigate through this as a family.


Memory Care Living Oceanside

Has your senior loved one recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia? We know it can be a very challenging time, and our team here at the memory care living in Oceanside is here to help. For a person with this diagnosis, it can be extremely dangerous for them to live alone. Even if they live with another adult, it can be taxing on family members, especially as the disease progresses. You don’t have to face this alone, however – let our team help.

Contact us today to schedule a tour of our community! We would love to show you and your senior loved one around our grounds, talk about the amenities that we offer, and discuss what the future holds. At Heritage Hills, memory care is all we do, and we do it well!