One unique factor in “young dementia” is that families may have dependent
children living in the home. Dementia symptoms are difficult for adults to
understand and accept, and can be even more difficult for children, especially
when the adult is the parent. Helping people work through changing family
dynamics can be complicated. It is important to consider the age and maturity of
the child, as well as the quality of the relationship between parent and child,
when making plans for the family.
Read about Rick, Mary Anne, Calvin and Rosalyn’s experiences as a family dealing
with “young dementia”.
As dementia progresses, the changes a child see may seem scary, and everyone in
the family may sense the changing dynamics in their relationship. There are
however, some ways to minimize the negative effects.
Keep up with natural routines and rhythms of family life. Daily schedules,
mealtime routines, weekly tasks and outings are all areas to keep consistent.
Routines are stable, calming forces for all of us, and allow us to function
‘automatically’. Predictability and routines are particularly important for
individuals with dementia.
As the dementia progresses further, the health and well being of the family
member with dementia must come first when considering activities outside of the
For example, a class play or dance recital may be an important and meaningful
event in your child's life, for you and your child. However, keep in mind that
special activities that are outside of the typical routine and/or are in
unfamiliar environments may also be confusing and anxiety provoking for the
person in later stages of dementia.
If/when you plan to attend a special event, consider the following:
- Keep your plans flexible
- Arrange for someone to sit or walk around with the person with dementia if
the activity becomes too confusing or overwhelming.
- Arrange for someone to leave with the person with dementia.
- Arrange for someone to stay at the event and support your child while you
and your loved one with dementia leave.
When Living Apart:
If the individual with dementia is in the hospital or living outside of the
home, it is important to develop new routines while integrating typical things
you previously did as a family, which might include....
- Visit at regular intervals, on a consistent schedule as much as possible.
- Talk about familiar, sometimes the same, subjects.
- Go out to familiar restaurants or shopping areas.
- Participate in typical family outings like walks in the park or going to
You may also find the following links helpful:
Families and friends section of the Alzheimer’s Association web site:
Resources and information specifically for Kids and Teens at the Alzheimer’s
Association web site:
If you have resources or other useful information to share, please
click here to contribute to Young Dementia
and help others.