Introducing children to dementia can be a daunting prospect for anyone providing home care. If they have known their senior for a long time, apparent change in mood or behavior can be difficult to understand or explain. However, there are several reasons and benefits to introducing the difficult topic with children that are of the age to understand it.
According to Very Well Health, intergenerational interaction improves dementia patients’ health and engagement based on the following observations:
- Positive engagement: Dementia patients who interacted with children regularly were more positive and engaged in their surroundings than those who didn’t.
- Passing on lessons: Adults with dementia can often be frustrated by their loss of skill and ability to perform complex tasks. Those interacting with children have the opportunity to teach simple skills and songs that they still remember how to do. This can improve good feeling and make seniors feel like they are contributing to home care.
- Benefits for children: Children who interact with seniors regularly are shown to have fewer behavioral challenges.
For those providing home care to seniors with dementia, there are certain precautions you should take and discussions to have with your children to ensure everyone’s safety.
- Discuss dementia: Your children who are old enough to understand should be given a summary of what dementia is and what it means. This can help children treat their seniors with more empathy and help them understand if they aren’t immediately recognized.
- Prepare for difficulties: Children are not known for their tact, and seniors with dementia may unintentionally say things they don’t mean either. Discussing some potential conversation topics with your child before a visit can help keep conversation moving smoothly.
- Employ facial expressions: Patients with advanced dementia may find it difficult to look for the exact word they need. However, they still remember facial expressions. Encourage your child to smile at their senior.
- Maintain supervised care: There is a difference in the level of care and understanding a teenager can provide compared to a small child. Visiting children should know to monitor things like the oven and stove, open doors and other potential dangers.Supervised visits with adults present can also help children understand the disease and its effects.
- Limit responsibility: Children and teenaged visitors should be there to enjoy their senior and spend time in fun bonding activities. For caregivers, this can be a chance to take care of some chores or rest for a while, but remember to keep an eye on the visit.
- Come prepared: An easy game like a small puzzle or coloring, story to read or simple card game can give seniors a chance to interact and play with children without the pressure of heavy intellectual requirements.
Interacting with children has proven benefits for both seniors with dementia and children. While diagnoses can be daunting for children to understand, taking the time to get them accustomed to it and interacting with their seniors can create a world of benefits for both.
IF YOU OR AN AGING LOVED ONE IS CONSIDERING SENIOR CARE IN LITCHFIELD PARK, AZ, CONTACT THE CARING STAFF AT GOLDEN HEART SENIOR CARE. CALL TODAY (623) 748-3301.