Family Guide: How To Prepare Children For Visits To Elderly Relatives With Dementia
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Family Guide: How To Prepare Children For Visits To Elderly Relatives With Dementia

Visiting a loved one with dementia can be an emotional and overwhelming experience for both parents and children. When a person is living with dementia, it can be difficult for them to communicate and interact with others as they once did. As a parent, it's important to prepare your children before they visit a loved one with dementia to ensure they get the most out of the visit and show compassion and understanding. With these five tips in mind, you can help create a better experience for all involved. 

1. Explain Dementia In A Child-Friendly Way

It's important to be honest with your children about why their loved one acts differently than they used to. Let them know that dementia is a condition that affects the brain and can cause a person to have difficulty with memory, communication, and behavior. Make sure they understand that the person they're visiting still loves them, but is not able to express that love in the same way. Use age-appropriate language to explain the changes taking place in their loved one's brain.

2. Discuss Ways To Communicate To Prevent Agitation

Before you visit, talk to your children about how to communicate with their loved ones. Encourage them to use short, simple phrases and to wait patiently for a response. Remind them to avoid speaking too loudly or rapidly, as it may cause their loved one to become agitated or overwhelmed. Let them know it's ok if the conversation becomes one-sided; some of their loved one's responses may be limited, and that's alright.

3. Talk About How To Handle Difficult Emotions

Visiting a loved one with dementia can sometimes be a difficult experience for children. They may not be used to seeing their loved one behave differently than before. Discuss with your child how to handle difficult emotions such as sadness or frustration. Encourage them to express these emotions and suggest that they follow up with a talk about it afterward.

4. Teach Your Child To Look For Changes In Behavior

Teach your child to pay attention to changes in their loved one's mood or behavior during the visit. Reassure them that it's ok to mention any changes they observe, but also make sure they understand that some changes are normal and expected. If they notice their grandparent getting tired or overwhelmed, let them know this is a good indication that the visit should end early. 

5. Encourage Bonding Interactions

Encourage your child to engage in activities they can do together with their loved ones, such as reading a book aloud or going for a walk. Make sure to give them plenty of positive reinforcement to encourage the desire for future visits. 

Talk To Senior Helpers Panama

Visiting a loved one with dementia can be a confusing and emotional experience for children. But with some preparation, parents can help their children get the most out of the visit. If you live in or around Panama City, Chipley, Lynn Haven, Marianna, or Bonifay and need help caring for a loved one with dementia, contact Senior Helpers Panama City. Our experienced caregivers are dedicated to providing the highest quality of care for seniors and their families.