Dementia can be a difficult subject to talk about. Especially when you are trying to explain the condition to a child. You might wonder when you should talk to them and what you should say or you could be asking yourself what you shouldn’t say. In fact, you might even believe that, especially for young children, it’s best to put off that discussion for as long as possible.
If these are the sorts of questions rolling around in your head, here are some answers that might surprise you and reassure you.
The Best Time to Explain an Alzheimer’s Diagnosis to Your Child
Believe it or not, experts say that the best time to talk to children about dementia is…as soon as possible. You see, even very young children notice when something is different. While it’s natural to think you might be better off avoiding the subject, this approach can have unintended consequences.
When we protect our child’s feelings by acting like everything’s fine or flat-out fibbing to them, this can return to haunt us. While it might not matter much at the moment, eventually kids figure things out or, at the very least, question them.
Maybe they’ll notice some medical paperwork about a grandparent’s diagnosis. Perhaps they will see a stack of Get Well cards addressed to Grandma or Grandpa. Then out of the blue, your child chimes in with, “Mommy, why did Grandma Betty get this card? I thought you said she wasn’t sick!”
Suddenly, you’ll have to come clean and explain dementia to the young person in your house. If you haven’t been candid before, your child might question if you are telling the truth now.