Dementia is a complicated and emotional topic for everyone. Many resources are available for adults but only a few resources are specifically designed for the information needs of young adults, teenagers or children. This post features a selection of resources on dementia for young people. All titles are available for loan through the Alzheimer’s Australia Vic library and may also be available via your local public library service.
Website: Dementia In My Family by Alzheimer’s Australia Vic
Children and teens of all ages impacted by a diagnosis of dementia in their family can now find support and information at our newly launched website, dementiainmyfamily.org.au
Featuring videos, games and quizzes, this site is full of colourful, interactive, age-appropriate content about dementia. Kids and teens can read the shared experiences of others in similar circumstances and learn they are not alone. They will find ideas to make sense of what is happening in their families and how to take care of themselves, as well as information on how to get more help if they need it.
This excellent site offers young people of all ages tailored information on dementia.
Books for readers aged 0 – 6
Book: When My Grammy Forgets, I Remember : A Child’s Perspective on Dementia By Toby Haberkorn, Illustrated by Heather Varkarotas (2015)
When My Grammy Forgets, I Remember: A Child’s Perspective on Dementia provides conversational openings and stimulates discussion between parents and children about compassion and this debilitating disease. Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia not only affect the person living with the disease, but the entire family, including the children. This story explores the difficult reality of dementia and the bittersweet changing relationship between a granddaughter and her grandmother. By including children in the family discussion, parents help them become resilient and empower them to provide comfort for the grandparent or loved one with Alzheimer’s.
Book: My Grandpa by Marta Altes (2013)
My grandpa is getting old but that’s how he is, and I love him. This unique look at old age through the eyes of a young bear is big-hearted, poignant, and beautifully observed. Whether they are boldly traveling the world in an armchair or quietly listening to the song of a hidden bird, the mutual adoration of grandfather and grandson is warmly evident.
Book: A day with grandpa by Fiona Rose (2014)
Take your child by the hand and enter grandpa’s enchanted world, where everything is possible for a day. Every page bursts forth with magical images that add extra meaning to the poetic story of a child and his grandad.
Books for readers aged 6 – 10
Book: Weeds in Nana’s Garden : A Heartfelt Story of Love That Helps Explain Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias. By Kathryn Harrison (2016)
A young girl and her Nana hold a special bond that blooms in the surroundings of Nana’s magical garden. Then one day, the girl finds many weeds in the garden. She soon discovers that her beloved Nana has Alzheimer’s Disease; an illness that affects an adult brain with tangles that get in the way of thoughts, kind of like how weeds get in the way of flowers. As time passes, the weeds grow thicker and her Nana declines, but the girl accepts the difficult changes with love, and learns to take-over as the magical garden’s caregiver. Extending from the experience of caring for her mother, artist Kathryn Harrison has created this poignant story with rich illustrations to candidly explore dementia diseases, while demonstrating the power of love. It is a journey that will cultivate understanding and touch your heart. After the story, a Question and Answer section about Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia is included.
YouTube: Kids4Dementia, Alzheimer’s Australia NSW (2015)
Children and grandchildren of people with dementia speak frankly about what it is like having a relative with dementia.
Book: Always my grandpa : a story for children about Alzheimer’s disease by Linda Scacco, illustrated by Nicole Wong (2006)
This heartwarming tale describes what it is like to be close to a grandparent who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. Daniel and his mom spend every summer with his Grandpa at a cottage by the sea. Daniel loves these summer visits: playing baseball, walking on the beach, watching the sunset, and hearing Grandpa’s stories of his fishing boat. As the summer passes, Grandpa begins to change. Daniel learns that since Grandpa has Alzheimer’s disease, he will have trouble remembering all the things that belong to him—his clothes, his words, his memories—and eventually, his own grandson.
Through gentle narration and easy-to-understand explanations, the book explains Alzheimer’s disease and how it affects children, and families.
A Note to Parents offers guidance for helping children with common emotions and reactions to Alzheimer’s disease.
YouTube: My Grandmum, My Papu, My Grandpa and Me by Alzheimer’s Australia NSW (2014)
My Grandmum, My Papu, My Grandpa and Me is an animated series produced by Alzheimer’s Australia NSW which features three children, Ezekiel, aged six, Bibi, aged nine, and Julia, aged 11, talking about their experiences of their grandparent with dementia, in their own words.
Book: Haven House : A Child’s Perspective of Alzheimer’s Disease by Rebecca Darling (2016)
Gillian loves to spend time with her Nanny. They enjoy precious moments together, from long walks in the park to drawing beautiful pictures with special colored pencils. Gillian also loves to hear Nanny’s stories about their family. Gillian starts to notice changes in Nanny. She begins to lose interest in activities and becomes easily confused. As nanny’s health declines and dementia sets in, Gillian must accept her Nanny’s condition and find new ways to love and connect with her.
This story includes the person with dementia’s transition from family-based care to a specialised residential aged care setting and explains this with sensitivity and respect in an age-appropriate way.
Books for readers aged 10 – 15
Book: The Memory Cage by Ruth Eastman (2011)
Alex’s grandfather keeps forgetting things, and Alex has overheard his adoptive parents say that they’re going to put granddad in a home. His grandfather begs Alex to save him from that, and it’s a promise Alex is desperate to keep. But Alex once promised his little brother that he would save him, and in the terror of the Bosnian war, he failed. As Alex struggles to protect his grandfather, he uncovers secrets that his family and the village have kept for two generations. Unravelling them will cause grief, but will they save grandfather, and perhaps help Alex come to terms with his own private war?
Book: Sundae Girl by Cathy Cassidy
Jude’s family are crazy, quirky, bizarre …her mum brings her nothing but trouble and her dad thinks he’s Elvis! All she wants is a hassle-free life – but it’s not easy when she’s chasing a trail of broken promises. To add to the complications, Jude’s grandmother has Alzheimer’s disease and her grandfather is very busy caring for her. Things go from bad to worse, but could the floppy-haired boy from school be her knight on shining rollerblades …?
Books for readers aged 15+
Book: Hour of the Bees by Lindsay Eagar (2016)
When Carol and her family move to her grandfather’s deserted ranch in order to transfer him to a care home, Carol struggles to cope with the suffocating heat and the effects of her grandfather’s dementia. Bees seem to be following her around, but the drought means this is impossible. She must be imagining things. Yet when her grandfather chooses her as the subject for his stories – tales of a magical healing tree, a lake, and the grandmother she never knew – Carol sees glimmers of something special in what her parents dismiss as Serge’s madness. As she rethinks her roots and what she thought she knew about her family, Carol comes to the realization that Serge’s past is quickly catching up with her present. A stunning coming-of-age story.
Book: Unbecoming by Jenny Downham (2015)
Three women – three secrets – one heart-stopping story. Katie, seventeen, in love with someone whose identity she can’t reveal. Her mother Caroline, uptight, worn out and about to find the past catching up with her. Katie’s grandmother, Mary, back with the family after years of mysterious absence and ‘capable of anything’, despite living with Alzheimer’s disease. As Katie cares for an elderly woman who brings daily chaos to her life, she finds herself drawn to her.
You can find more dementia stories and resources for children, tweens and teenagers here, in a previous post on this topic.
Remember: All titles are available for loan through the Alzheimer’s Australia Vic library and may also be available via your local public library service.