Dealing with a dementia diagnosis can be hard enough for adults, but how do you explain it to a child? We have lots of information and advice to make it a bit easier
Watching Emmerdale’s young Arthur Thomas cope with his dad’s death from dementia, was a stark reminder to millions of TV viewers of the heartbreak dementia can cause, not only to adults but to children as well.
Arthur (played brilliantly by nine-year-old Alfie Clarke) seemed to handle this traumatic situation with great maturity, largely because the adults around him have been so open, honest and sensitive to his needs throughout his dad’s illness.
But every child is different. What you say to them at each stage of the dementia journey, and how you say it, depends not only on their age but on their personality and emotional resilience. Whilst Arthur wanted his dad’s final days to be filled with fun and laughter, his teenage half sister Gabby craved quiet time alone with her dad. There are no rights and wrongs.
If you, or someone you know, is struggling to help a child or teenager cope with any aspect of a dementia diagnosis, it’s important to remember that you aren’t alone. There is lots of help available, whether it’s explaining a diagnosis, answering a tricky questions, handling visits to care homes or coping with their grief. We have lots of tailor-made articles you could find really useful. Whatever their age, and whatever your own unique circumstances we hope you’ll find something here to help them and you.
How to tell young children about a dementia diagnosis
What should I think about when taking children to a care home?
How to tell children and teenagers that a parent has dementia
Explaining dementia: 4 fab books for children
These lovely picture books are beautifully illustrated and offer simple, honest explanations of dementia through stories that children of all ages will understand. They offer positive and practical information and are a great way to open up conversations with children about dementia in general.
1. Grandma’s Box of Memories Helping Grandma to Remember by Jean Demetris
When her grandma starts to become forgetful, Alice and her family create a box of memories to remind her of the good times they’ve shared together.
2. Really and Truly: A Story about Dementia by Emile Rivard
Charlie’s grandpa gets dementia and can’t remember the stories he used to tell, but then Charlie has a good idea…he can tell the stories back to Grandpa instead.
3. Grandma by Jessica Shepherd
This touching story shows how a little boy called Oscar manages to keep having fun with his Grandma when she has to go into a care home.
4. Grandpa Sea Shells by Jo Johnson
Three young children spend the day with their grandparents after their grandfather has been diagnosed with dementia. Recommended for children aged 4-10.