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my Grandad has been diagnosed with dementia

Dear Sam, A couple of days ago when I came home from my friend's house my mum gave me a snack and said she wanted to have a talk about Grandad she said he had something called dementia and she said he might start forgetting who people are. I am worried because I do not want him to forget who I am can you give me any advice?

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Sam

Hi there,

Dementia can make it hard for someone to remember things, as well as change the way they speak, think, feel and behave. If someone you know has dementia it might mean that your relationship with them will change, and that they’ll need more help and support as they get older.

The first thing you might notice about someone with dementia is that they have difficulty understanding instructions or they don’t remember something they used to know. They might have sudden mood changes, become less interested in things around them and find it hard to do everyday tasks like getting dressed or making a cup of tea. Sometimes they don’t recognise people and as they got older and their dementia becomes more severe, they might not remember their own family members.

The changes in their behaviour are caused by dementia and not by something that you have done or said. You might feel sad, upset or angry about their illness and want them to be more how they used to be, and it’s OK to feel that way. Big changes in how someone acts can be hard to accept and it can help to talk about how you’re being affected and to ask questions about what to expect and how you can help.

There might be things that you can help the person with dementia with - like fetching a drink and a snack for them or making their bed. Always ask before you do something as it can be confusing for someone with dementia when things are changed or moved. You can show them that you care about them by spending time together. Try to include them in conversations, tell them about your day at school or college, watch a favourite program together or read the news to them. Make a photo album of birthdays, events and places that you’ve been together so that you can remember good times.

It can be upsetting or frustrating to see how dementia affects someone you care about - especially when they don’t seem to know who you are, they ask the same question over again or they repeat the same story. It’s important to try to stay calm in front of them, and then talk about your own feelings to an adult you trust like a parent, carer or teacher. You can also talk to other young people who’ve had similar experiences on the Childline message boards or directly with a Childline counsellor whenever you need to.

As the symptoms of dementia progress, it’s likely your Grandad will be more dependent on other people. Your family might have to help more as he is less able to take care of himself. Your family might need support from social services or to apply for benefits to help with financial worries.

If the people you live with are busy, tired or not around as much as they used to be, you might start to feel sad or alone. You could ask your parent or carer to find time each week for a day or a few hours when you can catch up and do something fun together - it’s important that everyone has a break and time to do things they enjoy when caring for someone else

I hope this advice has helped, thanks for writing.

Take care,

Sam

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