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Tips for Visiting Grandparents with Alzheimer’s

By Mary-Frances Walsh, 9:00 am on

For children, going to visit grandparents can be an exciting experience. Grandparents are lenient, fun, and easy to get along with. When seniors are living with Alzheimer’s or dementia, however, these visits can entail a number of unpleasant surprises. Fortunately, kids are far more resilient and understanding than they’re often given credit for. Following are several strategies that parents and caregivers can use to ensure that these visits are both positive and stress-free for all involved.

Keep Visits Regular

It is best to have children see their grandparents at regular intervals, rather than waiting several months before scheduling a visit. Alzheimer’s progresses at its own pace and too much time between face-to-face meetings could leave kids feeling a bit shell-shocked. Marked changes in an aging adult’s physique, posture, and behaviors are easier to adapt to when these are confronted on a gradual basis and in small increments. Keeping visits regular also gives younger children time to adapt to new behaviors before these become the norm.

Talk with the Primary Caregiver

Spend some time talking with the primary caregiver, whether that’s a family member or a caregiver from a Sonoma County elder care agency. Find out what changes in behavior can be expected and ask for suggestions on how you should encourage your child to respond to these things. Primary caregivers tend to have the best understanding of the different nuances and needs of the seniors they care for. They can also tell you the best time to visit, how long you should stay, and whether or not any actions, activities, or sounds are prone to causing agitation. As the disease progresses, helping caregivers keep seniors calm and content should always be the foremost concern for these visits.

Encourage Kids to Ask Questions

In advance of your visit, talk to your child about Alzheimer’s and how it affects the brain and behaviors. There are countless resources on the web that are designed to assist young children in understanding Alzheimer’s and adapting to changes that must occur in their relationships with their grandparents. Encourage your child to ask questions and always be as honest as possible.

Get Kids Involved

Kids of all ages tend to feel best about these changes when they know that they’re able to help. Bringing a pair of slippers or a glass of water to a grandparent can make a child feel helpful, involved, and appreciated. These efforts can also be comforting when aging adults have a hard time recognizing or engaging with their loved ones.

Let Kids Find Their Own Comfort Zones

For small children, the behaviors that are common to Alzheimer’s may seem frightening. Let kids decide how comfortable they are in interacting with their loved ones during these visits. They may prefer to sit on their parent’s lap or take part in other activities. As kids grow more familiar with this disease and its effects, they often warm up to their grandparents, even in spite of radical personality changes.

If your aging parent has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and you’re unsure what comes next, turn to Home Care Assistance. We provide hourly and live-in senior care in Sonoma County, ensuring seniors of all ability levels have the help they need when they need it most. Schedule a complimentary in-home consultation today by calling (707) 843.4368 and speaking with a dedicated Care Manager.