Having a relative with dementia can be really hard for young people. This short animation has been developed to help children aged 8-12 understand what having dementia means. It aims to help them understand some of the changes in their relative’s memory and behaviour, as well as giving them some practical tips for communicating with someone with dementia and continuing to enjoy quality time with them.
What is dementia?
Dementia is a condition or illness that affects the way the person’s brain is working. The brain controls everything that we do and so dementia can cause changes in the way the person thinks, their memory, the way they see things and the way they talk.
Will they get better?
Dementia is a condition that gets worse over time and there is currently no cure or way of stopping this from happening. Although the person won’t get better, there are lots of things you can do to help them feel happy and secure.
Anna, aged 9
“Sometimes it is hard to know how to help Grandma and what we can play together. I like reading to her and playing Snakes and Ladders. This cartoon is amazing! It will help lots of children.”
Will I get it too?
Dementia is not like other illnesses such as chicken pox or a cold, you cannot catch it from someone. Just because a family member of close friend has dementia it does not always mean that you will get it too.
Will the person forget me?
Sometimes people living with dementia have difficulty recalling names and as we grow our faces change so they may struggle to recognise you. However the way the person feels about you will stay with them for much longer and often a voice is easier to recognise. So if you are worried the person does not know who you are, try talking to them about memories you have shared and how you both felt at the time.
Do people with dementia get angry?
Living with dementia may mean that the person is concentrating a lot harder to do things that come easily to others and so can make them feel very tired or frustrated, a bit like how you may feel if you are struggling with school work you don’t understand. Feeling tired and frustrated may make the person more short tempered and angry.
Sometimes the person may feel anxious or afraid as they are struggling to understand what is happening around them.
Try to speak calmly to the person, tell them who you are and again share past memories and feelings with them. Try to remember it is not you they are angry with but the difficulties they are having. If you feel worried then always seek help from an adult.
Where can I get more help and information?
You can talk to an adult family member or your teacher if you want more advice. The Dementia UK website also has written information and support that you may find useful. Or you could call the Admiral Nurse Dementia Helpline and speak to a specialist Admiral Nurse who will be happy to answer any questions and talk with you about any concerns you have.