The important role of grandparents with dementia

YOUR mum or dad has recently been diagnosed with dementia and now you need to help your child understand that while their beloved 'Nan' or 'Pop' is experiencing some memory changes, their feelings are still the same.  

Grandparents play a vital role in our society and the special bond that exists between grandparents and grandchildren has a positive, life long impact for all.  

But what happens when a grandparent experiences memory loss or develops dementia?   

David Mack, Senior Coordinator of Clinical Practice for Ozcare's Dementia Advisory and Support Service, says that while everyone's experience with dementia is different, it can affect a person's mood, personality and behaviour and this can be confusing to children.  

"We all need to be needed, and grandparents living with dementia have so much to offer in caring for their grandchildren," said David.   

"Even if providing unaccompanied child care is no longer an option, there are many aspects of child care that a person with dementia can excel at.  

This helps to boost their self esteem as they feel they are making a valuable contribution to their family."   

Some tips for encouraging grandparents living with dementia and their grandchildren to continue to share experiences and joy together include: 

  • Keep photographs of family handy with names in large letters

Select a familiar activity you know grandparents and grandchildren can enjoy together such as children's books, rhymes and simple games

CDs of songs, rhymes and stories can be listened to together and sung aloud. Memory for songs and music can remain strong for a person living with dementia Encouraging children to break free from the stigma and raising awareness and understanding of dementia will benefit families to live a happier life.   

To find out more about dementia resources for children, or to speak to a dementia advisor, contact Ozcare's Dementia Advisory and Support Services on 1800 Ozcare (1800 692 273) or visit        

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