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Nurturing the Grandparent-Grandchild Bond Amidst Changes

grandparent bond

As the festive echoes of the holiday season gradually fade, our hearts remain warmed by the cherished moments spent with loved ones. However, for those navigating the delicate terrain of the grandparent-grandchild relationship, or in our case the “Great-Grandparent”, subtle shifts in behavior may linger as a poignant reminder of the passage of time. Picture the twinkling lights of the holiday tree casting a gentle glow on the faces of family members gathered around, only to be juxtaposed with the realization that Grandma or Grandpa isn’t quite the same. This post-holiday period becomes a poignant juncture, beckoning us to explore the intricacies of these changes and discover ways to fortify the grandparent-grandchild bond in the face of evolving circumstances.

The grandparent-grandchild relationship holds a special place in our hearts, but when Grandma or Grandpa starts acting differently, it can be challenging for young children to understand. Questions like “Why does he keep calling me by Dad’s name?” or “She just asked that question five minutes ago!” may arise, prompting a need for honest and age-appropriate responses.

Addressing Concerns:

For children under two, who might feel scared, providing simple reassurance works wonders. A phrase like “Grandpa might have a boo-boo, but he still loves you” can help soothe their concerns. Tailoring explanations for ages two to six, you can gently say, “Grandma has a sickness that’s affecting her brain and making it hard for her to think well.” Older children (six to twelve) can grasp the concept of a disease “tangling all the thinking cells.”

Reassurance and Understanding:

Emphasize to children that the disease is not contagious, and their grandparent’s behavior is not their fault. Consistent reminders may be necessary to reinforce this understanding.

Validation of Feelings:

Acknowledge and validate the child’s feelings, as they may be upset or confused by the changes. Open communication about emotions, along with exploring healthy coping mechanisms, is key. Consider utilizing children’s books on the topic, such as “A Kids Book About Alzheimer’s” by Tanya Iovino & Kiki Kouris, available at your local library.

Seeking Professional Help:

If acting-out behaviors or withdrawal from usual activities are noticed, seeking professional help may be beneficial for both the child and grandparent.

Engaging Activities:

To maintain a positive connection, suggest realistic and enjoyable activities for both generations. Activities like listening to music, planting flowers, engaging in arts and crafts, taking walks, looking at photo albums, storytelling, or having a picnic can create meaningful moments.

Benefits of Children for Alzheimer's Patients - Kids and Seniors Benefit

Avoiding Inappropriate Responsibilities:

Emphasize the importance of not putting a child in charge of “babysitting.” This responsibility is beyond their capacity and may pose safety risks for both the child and the person being cared for.

Navigating changes in a grandparent’s behavior requires honesty, reassurance, and open communication. By validating a child’s feelings and engaging in enjoyable activities, we can foster a resilient and enduring grandparent-grandchild bond amidst the challenges.


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