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Dementia and Kids
Eric L
Posted: Thursday, February 7, 2019 12:55 PM
Joined: 12/5/2014
Posts: 1050

As things have progressed with my MIL, my older two kids (10 and 8) are really starting to notice the changes especially when "interesting" things happen. Last night, were sitting on the couch and MIL stood up. My wife asked her "Mom, where are you going?" and she looked straight at my wife and said "I need to go tell my daughter (with her name though) something". Without a beat, my wife told her "She isn't home right now. If you need to tell her something, I can let her know".

It confused the heck out of the kids. My middle one asked me when I was tucking him into bed "How come Grandma was asking for Mommy when Mommy was right next to her? And how come Mommy told her that she wasn't home?" I think I did a pretty decent job explaining it to him. She's been telling us she needs to go home and we figured out that "home" is the house that my wife and her brother grew up in. I told him that since Grandma wants to go to her old house and they haven't lived there since Mommy was a teenager, she's probably looking for Mommy when she was that age.

Then I had to answer the "why did Mommy tell her she wasn't home" part of the question. I told him "well buddy, if Mommy told Grandma that she was Mommy, do you think that Grandma would believe her, especially since Mommy is sitting right next to her and she can't recognize her? It would probably make her more upset if she tried to convince her".
Posted: Thursday, February 7, 2019 2:58 PM
Joined: 7/12/2017
Posts: 1287

ALZ and dementia can cause great stress on children, we need to be very aware, you handled it well, and maybe say, grandma's brain is stuck and sometimes its kinder to just go with whatever she believes.
Posted: Thursday, February 7, 2019 5:05 PM
Joined: 1/17/2016
Posts: 884

Eric, my kids were a little older, but dementia was a great lesson for them in patience and understanding.  Explaining why we fib to our LO to save them the stress is a lesson that even some adults don't get.  At 8 and 10 they know lying is wrong, but this is a  great time to talk about the differences.

Also, understanding the illness and not fighting it is something they will see you do and again, they will learn.  I always teased my kids who were 11 and 15 that I was hoping they would see what was up and if god forbid I was ever in this predicament in years to come, they would have it down pat.  My son was more patient then me in the beginning, but eventually I found that agreeing with my mom, using fibs, etc. turned me into a much more patient person.  If dementia has one upside for the family it was the lessons we all learned.

Posted: Friday, February 8, 2019 2:02 AM
Joined: 5/21/2016
Posts: 1940

Hi, Eric, I was quite surprised at how my kids, who were much older than your kids, took many of the roller coaster events in our house in their stride as my parents aged and then died. They were much more accepting in a way of some of my parents' idiosyncrasies. They would make outings just with me a priority in their lives. They "took it easy" with my folks in a way I could not. They spent time with my parents and made an impact on them that I could not have. I appreciate their tolerances of my parents' differences and their commitment now as young adults to create better opportunities for persons trying to age in place.
Mimi S.
Posted: Friday, February 8, 2019 8:32 PM
Joined: 11/29/2011
Posts: 7036

You did a great job. The more your kids understand about the disease, the more help they can be.
Posted: Wednesday, February 13, 2019 7:52 AM
Joined: 2/13/2019
Posts: 2

My kiddos seem a lot more understanding and patient than I could have expected when this started. They are both 9, and I've tried to be as open and honest as possible. Now that I've gotten the hang of these quick go with the flow responses and moved past my desire to be truthful, it's a good reminder to explain why this aspect is happening to the kids. So far, I don't think they've directly overheard me lying. Thanks for sharing this explanation.
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