Children and Dementia
Stories take from my blog about the Grandchildren
Explaining to Alzheimer’s or Dementia to children, can be very difficult, but I suppose the early we start the better it can be explained, and possibly accepted
When I was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia, my daughter 27 years old, who lived at home at the time, accepted the illness, but my son 25 years old could not accept it
I suppose it was easy for Claire as she was doing a biology degree, and had taken some of the problems on board, and had done some research into dementia as part of her course.
Eventually he accepted my problems and that is now history.
Someone once told my wife that my son possibly idolised, me and that was the problem,
This could not be happening to me
Things have now moved on
However my Grandchildren think I have Old Timers, and while they know about the title or the illness, they seem to understand the rest of it.
However some time ago my daughter Claire, tried to explain to our wonderful Grandchildren that I had Lewy Body Dementia, and thought the easiest way was to say that I had old timers illness, which sounded lovely.
I found it hard when the children would treat me with kid gloves at times, but it was Claire's way of protecting me at times.
On day we travelled down to London where we stayed over in a hotel for a night, before going to a meeting about Dementia.
After this we headed off to our daughters in Farnborough in Hampshire where we stayed for a few days. During the week I walked to school with one Grandchild or the other as both girls are in different schools.
However I do feel that it’s so nice when they hang on to your hand and talk to you, while you walk them to school, although I confess that at times it was very hard to take, and sometimes get emotional.
One day my daughter Claire had to take one daughter straight into town from school, to get her feet measured.
As things were going to be tight, I agreed to pick the other granddaughter up from school, so that my wife could keep an eye on the grandson who was still very young at the time and got into everything when you were not looking
So she asked if I would be alright, going up to the school to pick up the youngest from the primary school which is about 1 1/2 miles away.
I have walked this route on many occasions, and enjoy the walk, as it is relaxing, so I agreed to do it.
Having got to the school, I waited as everyone came out, and the teacher looked at me and asked who I was waiting for, and I explained.
I had seen my granddaughter wandering round the classroom, but she was in her own little world, and perhaps because she had not seen her mum she did not come out.
She asked where everyone was, and I explained as we were walking home.
On the way I asked what she had been doing at school and whether she had enjoyed herself.
She was quiet at first, but then started talking about spellings, and how she sometimes gets things wrong or spelt the wrong way, as some words sound differently to the way they are spelt.
I said that I loved spelling when I was at school, but these days I cannot always remember how words are spelt ( and without spell check) I would not be doing this, although sometimes spell check cannot fathom out the words I am trying to spell) so I am stuck. These days I have to break each word down, until I get an idea of the correct spelling
She looked up at me and said. But Grampy you have an excuse as you have old timers?
I confess that I was taken aback by this and felt very tearful as this little girl of five had remembered this, and I felt very humbled that she was being so thoughtful in what she said, and for someone 5 year old that takes some imagination.
We had a long talk going home, and after she had changed out of her school uniform, she came back downstairs and started talking again, sounding so old for her age. As Claire has said on many occasions she is 5 year old, yet there are times she sounds more like 35.
I had trouble trying to explain this to my wife and Claire, because I was still close to tears, the effect had been something I had never expected, as it was so spontaneous.
So it proves that children can understand more about this illness that we accept, and possible think more about it than adults.
Over the last two years things have got much worse, but these children have kept up with me, and always show a lot of care and respect.
Over recent days I have been getting confused with people’s names and today I kept calling one grandson by the wrong name.
He is only four and a half, in the end he turned to me, looked me straight in the face and said, don’t worry Grampy ,you have old timers, so we understand that your memory is not working as it should be.
I understand when you call me by the wrong name.
How can you answer that, when someone that age says things like that?
This has proved one thing to me and that is this. The sooner we are able to discuss this illness with youngsters the better, as they certainly seem to have a way of accepting the truth were adults cannot
So one way or another we need to start educating children when they are at school as these youngsters will help us remove the stigma in the future, and they will help educate others as they go.
There have been many instances where they have done and said things which are amazing but sadly this all disappears into the past, sometimes never to be remembered ever again.
Through all of this the eldest Granddaughter who has Asperger’s, is the most protective, and tells the other two what they can and cannot say or do.
So with all of her own problems she really cares and hangs on to me all of the time.
I really fear for her when my illness comes to its conclusion, because as Claire has said, she will be hit the worst, we have formed an inseparable bond, something that no one can fully understand, but we get on so well, even though she has her own problems.