Tips for children who are visiting a grandparent with dementia

Dementia can be confusing for children, which is why it might be helpful to explain what it is and how it’s affecting their grandparent. Visits from friends and family can comfort and reduce anxiety for loved ones living with dementia at what can otherwise be a very lonely time. Taunton School share their tips for visiting a grandparent with dementia. 

Explain what dementia is

Dementia can be confusing and sometimes scary for a child to understand, which is why it may help to explain what it is and how it’s affecting their grandparent. For this, you might decide to use a children’s storybook, such as 'Away with The Fairies' or 'Travels with My Granny'. By having an understanding of what dementia is, your child can be more mindful and respectful of their grandparent's condition.

Think about loud noises

Noise can be a factor that causes a lot of distress for people living with dementia, which is often overlooked. The slightest of sounds that are undetectable by us, can be a source of discomfort and disorientation for those with the condition. 

The importance of touch and body language

A gentle touch, like a pat of the knee or a touch of the shoulder can help people living with dementia feel less startled and panicked when greeting them. Enter the room with a friendly smile and maintain eye contact to help them feel reassured. Often, we forget about these forms of physical contact but they are powerful forms of communication.

Speak slowly and clearly

Dementia can impair hearing in older people, making it difficult to hear and follow a conversation. To make communication easier for them, advise your child to speak slowly and clearly, in patient way so that grandparents can understand what is trying to be said. 

Diverting the conversation

It can be frustrating for someone with dementia to realise the deterioration of their condition. To shift focus, talk about what they can do. Talk about things that you see in the room, like a painting, so you can explore together what you like about it. You could also bring along a photo album, so you can talk about pictures of the past, as reminiscing has been shown to relieve feelings of anxiety. 

Thanks to Taunton School for working with us on this guest blog.

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