“Why does Grandpa keep forgetting my name? Why does Mum do silly things like put salt in my hot chocolate?”
With 900,000 Australians expected to be living with dementia by 2050, these are the types of questions more and more children will be asking as they come to know someone living with dementia. But are parents, caregivers and educators prepared for these questions?
So how do we talk to kids about dementia and what do they want to know? I recently ran focus groups and interviewed over 40 children, people with dementia and the loved ones – including children – of people with dementia. This is what they told me.
1. Tell the whole truth
Children want adults to be completely open and honest about dementia. In the words of a 10-year-old boy:
I wouldn’t say everything will be okay because I hate – I absolutely hate it – you’d rather someone say to you, yeah, your grandma’s never going to get better.