Explaining dementia to children

It can be a challenging time when a family member is diagnosed with dementia. It can take a while to adjust when someone you love is dealing with such a complex condition, especially if there are children involved.


We’ve put together our tips on how to explain dementia to children, ensuring that they understand the condition and how it may affect them.


Be honest

Honesty is vital when dealing with such a sensitive issue. You need to be clear in what you’re saying, while still offering reassurance. Of course, you may need to adapt what you’re saying depending on the age of the child. You can also encourage them to ask questions about what’s going on, so they understand why their loved one is sometimes acting out of character. 


Expect a range of emotions

It’s natural for a child to feel upset as they come to terms with a loved one’s dementia diagnosis, but they might also experience lots of other emotions. They may feel anger over what their relative is going through or anxiousness over what may happen in the future. They may also feel guilty if they become bored or irritated with the repetition that can be associated with dementia.


Remain positive

Focus on the things the person living with dementia can do, rather than what they can’t. Start the conversation with the positives, while still making sure you explain the things that their loved one is starting to find difficult.


Let them be involved

Be guided by what the child wants to do. If they want to spend as much time with their relative as possible, then keep in mind that they still need to carry on with their normal lives. If they would rather keep their distance, then make it clear that that’s ok too.