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What do we tell the kids?

Discussion in 'I care for a person with dementia' started by littlemisssun, Jan 30, 2015.

  1. littlemisssun

    littlemisssun Registered User

    Nov 2, 2014
    Hi there,

    Will be seeing my mil in a couple of weeks and wondering what to tell my bright boys, if anything, before we see her. We haven't seen mil for a year, I am expecting to see a deterioration in conversation and concerned about her being overemotional. Apparently she talks about the dementia a lot, I am not sure what is appropriate for the kids, do I divert and distract if possible if I am not happy about the conversation? She is not at a stage so far as I am aware that she is not in control of what she is saying( apart from word confusion etc) but low and everything centres around her thoughts and beliefs. Thanks.
  2. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    Hello littlemisssun

    I`d be honest with them and give them some preparation . It`s much better than seeing them shocked and also allowing your mil to see shock on their faces.

    You could say you don`t really know how she will be but you do expect to see a change in her.
  3. Wendy7713

    Wendy7713 Registered User

    Aug 18, 2014
    Depends how old they are? I was diagnosed last year, aged 58 and telling family and friends was really hard, but the hardest is when people ignore you because they don't know what to say or are embarrassed so be open and honest. I'm sure if you look in the Alzheimers books on their web site there will be ones for children. Children often say just the right things and are much better at this than adults:)
  4. marionq

    marionq Registered User

    Apr 24, 2013
    Children are almost always smarter than you expect but they are not little adults. They approach things from a different viewpoint. Honesty is the best policy but keeping in mind not to burden them with stuff they don't need to know just yet. They don't need to worry about the future but they do need to know how to deal with things as they are at present. So tell it how it is as you believe it to be.
  5. Pete R

    Pete R Registered User

    Jul 26, 2014
    If you have a rough idea of what MiL is going to be like then have a look on you tube, find something similar and talk them through it whilst watching.

    Good luck.:)
  6. henfenywfach

    henfenywfach Registered User

    May 23, 2013
    Hi we often try and shelter them bit the reality is they cope and accept things better than we do..there is information especially for children written by the alzheimers society..it might help...

    You know them best and how theyll react..i suppose the ultimate would be not recognising them!..

    My little cousin always took my aunt at face value..wasnt even afraid..actually the children were therapy and a huge comfort to her..there were questions why does she do this and whats wrong etc..

    Just be prepared with a reason or distraction...should you need to react quickly....

    Only yesterday i saw an elderly gent react to a baby and it was amazing...almost therapeutic...such a pleasure to see.

    i hope it goes well..and there are more positives than negatives
    Best wishes

    Sent from my GT-I9505 using Talking Point mobile app
  7. littlemisssun

    littlemisssun Registered User

    Nov 2, 2014
    Thank you all, that is reassuring and along the lines of what I am thinking. My boys are 10 and 12, I want to avoid comments like " You have already said that Grandma" on one hand whilst hoping they won't have to experience too much of topics that they don't need to know about. I will have a look at the website, then chat to my husband( who I also feel may be in for a shock). Thanks...
  8. Linbrusco

    Linbrusco Registered User

    Mar 4, 2013
    Auckland...... New Zealand
    You can only but tell them the truth, on an age appropriate level but without going into too much detail.
    Something along the lines that their grandmother is not well, and her brain doesn't quite work and think the same as it used to and her memory is very poorly.
    She may get upset when she sees them, or may even forget their name.

    If they get upset visiting, ( or your MIL) have a plan of one of you taking them outside, or into another room, and taking a game or such to keep them occupied.
    If at all possible either of you taking them in the car for a drive.
    Its going to be a case of play it by ear, but have a Plan B.

    My children are now 12 & 17. They are very accepting of my Mums Alzheimers.
    My son at 17, hears a dozen times a day from Mum if hes got a girlfriend.
    My son just smiles and tells her he has many, and then changes the subject and asks her a question :)
  9. Tell them the truth, but just as much as they will understand in a simple way. Most importantly, make sure they know what she CAN do, as much as what she can't. Make suggestions as to what they can do with her, share some sweets, play on an iPad, tap a balloon back and forth, stroke a soft toy.....whatever they and she can both do.

    Urge them not to ask her any questions...she won't know the answers, but when she speaks to them for them to agree with everything she says, however bonkers. And to smile...she will love their smile.

  10. Concerned J

    Concerned J Registered User

    Jun 15, 2014
    My children are a little bit younger 9,7 & 3. They see my Mum frequently. I often try to make light of the situation and we laugh at home about the daft things Gran does and says. When with my Mum they really brighten her up although we try not to stay too long as Mum can get a bit anxious when things get a bit hectic.
    Honesty really is the best policy.
  11. RobinH

    RobinH Registered User

    Apr 9, 2012
    thinking of the future

    All good advice. What I would add is to make your kids understand that this isn't how ALL old people end up. They will see her and be thinking about you, and themselves. Dementia affects only a minority, no matter how long you live. If they ask, tell them that a healthy lifestyle helps reduce the risk, but that it is random and not inherited.

    Also 10 and 12, depending on the kids, is pretty grown up these days. Don't under-estimate them.
  12. #12 DazeInOurLives, Jan 31, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2015
    A great way to quickly divert a conversation with a person with moderately advanced dementia is to use links (however tenuous) in a single sentence to bring the subject back to something in the person's life that made them feel **exceptionally** proud and happy at the time. A really positive stand-out moment for them.

    For example, yesterday my Mum was muttering about a lady's fat legs in a rather mortifying way. I looked down at both our legs and said..."Oh Mum, those are the shoes that you wore when you met the Queen!" She completely forgot about the other lady and started laughing and we happily chatted about her meeting the Queen some years ago (this is a false but very believable and happy memory that she has conjured from a real memory of a trip to Buckingham Palace). We enjoy this 'memory' with her because it brings her real joy in a shrinking world where there is so little joy for her now.

    I keep physical prompts within easy reach that help to bring her back to specific proud moments and I use them at tricky times in the conversation, perhaps at a time that I don't follow what she is trying to say and she is getting frustrated, or, more usually, when she is expressing her internal voice in a socially unacceptable way. For Mum her it's her old school whistle, a picture of the Queen, a tiny model barge and an old map of Greenford where she grew up. Bringing these out, apropos of nothing at times, can bring instant relief to a tense moment for us both.

    The important thing is to divert the conversation-to a stand out proud and important moment in the person's life, because those wonderful feelings flood in and override everything else. My Mum physically changes in appearance when we do it...she sits up taller, puffs up and beams. The joy of dementia (?) is that we can do this as often as necessary with her and it never wears out.

    This is something that I learned from the amazing http://contenteddementiatrust.org and has been just one of their truly compassionate methods that still brings real personal happiness to Mum over 13 years into her illness.
  13. littlemisssun

    littlemisssun Registered User

    Nov 2, 2014
    Thank you, I have found reading all your comments very helpful and they have given me some ideas both as how to plan the situation to some extent plus I have spotted in your thoughts more straits that mil exhibits. Have for how said to boys about not worrying if she gets upset or repeats things, don't ask questions and be aware she might repeat herself. Thanks again.

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