Grandparents play a very important role in the lives of children and the bond they form together is truly unique. To highlight this special relationship, national Grandparents Day is celebrated each year during the month of September.
When a grandparent is diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s, it can be extremely confusing to younger children, as to why Grandpa or Grandma may not behave in the same way that the grandchildren have grown to love and expect.
However, the good news is that there are a number of activities that grandparents and children can participate in together that will bring happiness and meaning to everyone involved.
Activities for Elderly People with Dementia & Grandchildren
It is important to remember that grandparents can still enjoy wonderful relationships with their grandchildren even while living with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Let’s take a closer look at some activities that can be shared together.
Spending Time Outdoors
Experiencing the beauty and wonders of nature can be a calming experience for many seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s. Whether it’s time spent out in the garden growing flowers or vegetables, birdwatching or going on a nice picnic, these are all great ways to encourage quality bonding time.
With the proper supervision, grandparents and their grandkids can bond by preparing and cooking a great meal for everyone to enjoy. Even people with advanced dementia or Alzheimer’s can participate in such cooking activities as baking cookies or making sandwiches. If the grandparent is able to, have them teach the younger people a family recipe that has been handed down through the generations.
Starting a Project
Many grandparents and grandchildren have found great satisfaction and joy in participating in a project together. Based on a grandparent’s cognitive ability, activities can include painting, creating a family scrapbook, making jewelry with rope and beads, or building a birdhouse. Whatever the project turns out to be, the end result will be cherished by everyone involved.
For both grandparents and younger children, reading out loud to each other can be beneficial for everyone involved. This activity not only helps the grandkids improve their reading skills, but it also has a notable effect on the grandparent’s quality of life as well. If possible, ask a grandparent to read aloud. It will be a great help to them and the grandchildren will enjoy hearing a fun story narrated in their grandparent’s own voice.
Helping Grandchildren Understand Dementia & Alzheimer’s
Having a loved one who has developed dementia or Alzheimer’s can be a very difficult journey for all family members, especially children. Because of their limited experience in life, younger people may not understand what is happening to Grandpa or Grandma. It is important that everyone in the family knows as much as they can about cognitive problems in older people so the best can be made out of a difficult and sometimes scary situation.
Once again in life, honesty is always the best policy. Seeing the changes taking place in a grandparent with dementia or Alzheimer’s can be frightening, and children don’t often understand what is happening to the person in their life that means so much.
By talking to children openly about what dementia or Alzheimer’s is and how it affects some older people will help relieve a lot of fear in the younger family members. Also, telling grandchildren that any upsetting behavior that might be witnessed regarding the grandparent should not be taken personally, as it’s just part of their illness.
Let the grandchildren in your life know that their worry and fears about a grandparent’s dementia or Alzheimer’s is completely normal and it is ok to have such feelings. Sometimes, younger people feel that they must somehow be responsible for their grandparent’s condition. Assuring them that this is not true can help them feel more at ease with the situation.
Spending Time Together
It is very important for grandchildren to know that they can still talk to and interact with their grandparents as much as they would like. Enjoying activities such as the ones stated above will help keep the bond among family members strong and vibrant.
Frontier is here to Help
Living with a loved one who has dementia or Alzheimer’s can be both physically and emotionally stressful for everyone in the family, especially young children. By being honest about what is happening to Grandpa or Grandma, and encouraging the grandchildren to spend quality time with them is very important for everyone.
If you would like some additional information about how to best manage a relationship between a grandparent with dementia and a grandchild, we would be happy to discuss our knowledge and experience on this topic with you in more detail.