Granny Mary Thinks Differently: Children’s Book About Dementia

granny mary thinks differently children's book about dementia

Granny Mary Thinks Differently is an eBook for everyone in the family facing dementia.

Dementia is a syndrome that does not have a cure yet. Unfortunately, it affects every family member, including children.

It happens very commonly in families that we completely forsake explaining dementia to children. It is a challenging term for a child to understand. That’s why we need to teach them about the condition their grandparent is facing.

Very often, the child and the grandparent are best friends. However, when dementia occurs, their relationship can change drastically.

Sometimes, kids think it’s their fault, which can even lead to depression.

Explaining Dementia to Children and Young People

With lovely and educational children’s book, Granny Mary Thinks Differently, you can now educate your child about dementia conveniently.

Through carefully picked words and engaging illustrations, your child will understand that dementia is a disease.

They will learn that they are not guilty of a negative reaction from grandparents. The book will also help them stop having the feeling that grandparents no longer like them.

Tell your child when you feel sad, angry, tired, or in a bad mood because of your grandparent’s dementia.

Emphasize that the child is not to blame for your feelings and that he or she has done nothing wrong.

Talk to Children and Young People About Dementia

Additionally, allow the child to talk about their fears, concerns, and emotions related to the changes they observe and experience in grandparents or the family.

It is important that the child does not experience feelings of guilt. You should clearly explain to your child that no one in the family is to blame for the illness – dementia.

At the same time, we need to assure the child that he will not get dementia and that he should not worry about his future or his parents’ future (dementia is rarely hereditary).

If you teach a child about the disease (especially about the noticeable signs that he will easily notice), it will not affect him.

This especially applies to situations when the grandparent forgets his name, repeatedly asks the same question, will no longer want to read them a fairy tale, or even becomes angry at them.

The child will know that this is an expression of the disease. Not the fact that the grandparent no longer likes him/her.

We can also direct the child to preventive action like reading, exercise, quality sleep, learning, healthy eating.

In short, explaining what is good for the brain and how he/she should take care of his/her body to be healthy for as long as possible.

Knowledge is a cure (for the whole family) when we face dementia.

The more information and knowledge a child has about dementia, the easier it will be to find themselves in a new position. When you do not have the answers to all the questions, your child has asked you, find information and solutions together.

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Granny Mary Thinks Differently

We discover dementia and get to know it through the childhood curiosity of Granny Mary’s granddaughter, Anna.

granny mary thinks differently

Hidden in the story are important questions about age, illness, family, friendship, and love, which gives us the strength and courage to cope with the changes that dementia brings to the family.

There are currently about 50 million people who have dementia globally.

The number keeps increasing by almost 10 million each year.

Thus, the topic is rapidly becoming more and more relevant, both on a daily basis and in children’s literature. Changes that come with the disease touch all family members.

Furthermore, everyone accepts the effects of dementia differently, so studying the condition carefully is very important, especially in children.

Children’s world

The book is dedicated to all families, but especially to the grandchildren of grandparents who think differently.

The heartiness and patience of Anna, the granddaughter of grandmother Mary, will invite you to the children’s world, which is often ignored and overlooked when we face illness – dementia – in the family.

By talking to a child in an understandable and acceptable way, we make them aware and influence the recognition and understanding of dementia in society.

Dear Grandma, Grandpa

Even if you forget everything, you will not be forgotten. Let this children’s book on dementia be a display of love that gives us the strength and courage to face change.

Dementia changes a person, but it does not change the family and the love that embraces it.

Dear Granddaughter, Grandson

Let the book be a consolation to you when the days are hard and when you don’t understand your grandmother or grandfather due to their challenging condition.

Remember that the illness needs love. Your help and warmth are always valuable. Ask any question you may have and seek knowledge.

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Reviews & Comments

Teepa Snow, MS, OTR/L, FAOTA

This is a very helpful resource designed to help children better understand why someone they love is changing and seems so different. Petra Boh has done an excellent job of comparing the normal role and relationship of a special Grandma with what might be a new possibility after significant symptoms have started to appear. The illustrator, Andreja Karba, has done terrific work creating a mix of scenes that have action in them, while also highlighting some of the objects or emotions that could be identified by children. This is so needed by families around the world who are coping with these very real situations.” – Teepa Snow, MS, OTR/L, FAOTA, Founder of Positive Approach to Care®

Cameron J. Camp, Ph.D., Director of Research and Development, Center for Applied Research in Dementia

In Granny Mary Thinks Differently we are given the opportunity to see a woman with dementia through the eyes of her granddaughter, Anna. A strong message throughout is the power of love to maintain our humanity. As her granddaughter sees changes in her grandmother, the little girl also learns how to adapt to these changes so that she can maintain their positive and loving relationship. This is a powerful and important lesson to learn, for Anna and for all of us.

Zvezdan Pirtosek, M.D., Ph.D.

Dementia – a word that a doctor wrote in grandmother’s medical record. In front of little Anna, curious and playful, a new world has unfolded, in which her beloved grandmother thinks and behaves differently than before. In “Granny Mary Thinks Differently,” Anna reveals her wonder and her sadness, but also her acceptance, understanding, and finally, the realization that touches us deeply – especially when expressed by a child. The body can become numb, the mind tiresome, and the memory fades – but not the friendship and love that Anna will always feel for her grandmother.

Laura Herman, Elder and Dementia Care Professional

My kids are ages 7 and 8, and I was curious as to how they’d react to Petra Boh’s new children’s book about dementia: ‘Granny Mary Thinks Differently.’ We sat down to read it together. They were immediately drawn in by Andreja Karba’s sweet and colorful illustrations. They delighted in small details, like the framed rabbit portraits that appear throughout the pages. Both kids enjoyed reading about how 7-year-old Anna and Granny Mary spent their time together. They instantly related, and imagined sharing these activities with their own grandmother.”

“They found themselves very engaged in the story. As Granny Mary started to decline, my 8 year old boy choked up, commenting that he didn’t know what he’d do if his Memaw started feeling and acting like that. He especially appreciated the pages about how Anna and the doggie could help Granny Mary feel better when she was having a hard time.”

Teodora Ghiur, Cognitive Neuroscience

Informative, engaging, and accurate, this e-book is an excellent educational tool for all children. Unfortunately, memory degeneration has become a part of life for many of us growing and living with grandparents. Using story-telling and strong visual imagery, this short e-book explains topics that are often painful to put into words, like Alzheimer’s and Dementia in an easy-to-understand and dynamic format. Written into a compassionate tone of voice, this e-book offers excellent science-based information in a language accessible to the little ones.

Jana Mali, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Faculty of Social Work

The main narrator of the story is seven-year-old Anna, who describes how she experiences Granny Mary’s changes due to dementia. This children’s book is a good example of how parents can approach the world of dementia with their child by reading Anna’s story. A child’s perspective on understanding dementia; a world that is different from ours because thinking happens in a special way.

It’s important that Granny Mary remains the main character of the story from beginning to end, as the perspective of people with dementia is still too often overlooked in everyday practices. The recording of the story through the view of a person with dementia represents a great signpost for a change in the relationship we have with people experiencing dementia. We expect changes in a better understanding of dementia, most from the young and middle generation representatives, who will also be the most likely to pick up the book. Let’s take the time to share this children’s book with our kids and consider the next steps for a healthy relationship with people with dementia.”

Explaining Dementia to Children – Here’s How

explaining dementia to children

When a loved one develops dementia, you may be tasked with the responsibility of explaining dementia to children.

While it may not be the easiest of tasks, it is important to let the young ones know what is happening in the lives of their grandparents, parents, or any other relative they are close to.

This is because the illness can bring about some challenges that may affect the kids.

If a child is not aware of what is going on, they can make a joke out of the disease, be frightened of their relative, or distance themselves thinking that the illness is contagious or their loved one does not want to spend quality time with them anymore.

Explaining Dementia to Children

It is, therefore, prudent that the little ones know about the illness as soon as possible.

If you are stuck on how to approach such a situation, you can use the practical tips below on how to talk about dementia to the youngsters.

Be Honest

explaining dementia to children
Anyone who has the job of explaining dementia to children needs to understand that honesty is key.

You need to start having the conversation as soon as the ill person gets a positive dementia diagnosis.

Never lie to a kid that the person with dementia is just being silly or they are acting the way they are because of old age.

It is also crucial that you package this information in a way that the child will digest depending on their age.

If it is a grandmother who has the disease, sit them down and tell them that she has an illness that is hurting their memory and ability to do daily activities.

As you keep the conversation going, the child will most likely guide you on the direction to take.

Stick to age-appropriate and truthful answers as questions arise.

Talk about How They Can Get Involved

talking to children about dementia
While talking about the illness, assure the young one that they can still have a relationship with the affected individual.

Let them know that the loved one is still a person despite their present condition.

Explain to them that while some things may change, they can still have some good times with the ill individual.

Have a list of things that they can still do with the person they love and how they can offer a hand.

Keep in mind that this needs to be an on-going conversation. This will allow you to make the necessary adjustments as the disease progresses.

Most importantly, the kids’ interactions with impaired individuals need to be supervised to make sure that everything stays in place.

Offer Guidance on Appropriate Behavior

offer guidance on appropriate behavior
As you go about the business of explaining dementia to children, you need to teach acceptance.

This is where you let the youngsters in on how to behave when they are around a person with dementia. This will generally be about practicing patience and acceptance.

Prepare the children for any angry outbursts that the persons with dementia may have from time to time.

Tell them not to take any mean comments or reactions to heart because it is the disease that makes their loved one act like that.

They should also know that if the affected person is always asking the same question, it is because the part of the brain that holds answers is not working well.

They should, therefore, not get tired of repeating themselves when need be.

Do not force the youngsters to spend time with the ill individual when they do not want to. Just continue talking about the illness in small doses.

Offering resources such as appropriate videos and books can also help them get a better understanding of the illness in a way that will make them change their mind.

Let The Children Know that The Disease is Not Contagious

let the children know that dementia is not contagious
Many people who have had a conversation about dementia with teens and younger kids report that most minors will not want to associate with the person with dementia because they are afraid they might catch it.

In such a case, you must emphasize that dementia is not a type of flu or any other infection that affected people pass around.

Tell them that it is okay to spend time with their loved one who has dementia at close range and they will not get the disease from being around the person.

If they are young they might be sad thinking that they did something to cause the disease. Comfort them and reassure them time and again that they are not to blame for what is going on.

Let the Young One’s Express Their Feelings

let the young ones express their feelings
While you are explaining dementia to children, do not be the person who does all the talking. Allow the young one to express their feelings about the situation.

When you first have the conversation, they may not be as responsive as they soak in all the new information.

As time goes by, however, you can approach them to talk about their feelings and concerns.

You may also have to carefully observe the child because they can change their behavior after learning about their loved ones’ health condition.

Problems at home, school, or with friends may be a sign that they are upset.

When you feel like it is hard to reverse this errant behavior you can seek help from a social worker or a school counselor.

The professionals can help the kid to further understand the recent changes and teach them how to cope.

Stay connected (playing fun games)

Even though this may be a tough time for the child to comprehend the condition his loved one is going through, they can still stay connected.

And playing different games and activities is best for both.

Below, you can find some of the fun game ideas that a child can play with an older adult with dementia (and vice versa).

Granny Mary Thinks Differently

As mentioned earlier, books are an excellent way of getting your children familiar with dementia.

To make it even easier, we released an exclusive educational children’s eBook, “Granny Mary Thinks Differently,” which will help you interact with the little ones conveniently.

The book introduces dementia through seven-year-old Anna’s curiosity, who is sensing the mysterious change in her grandmother.

Closing Remarks

Many people will agree that explaining dementia to children can be quite difficult.

This is, however, something that needs to be done so that the young ones are not locked out of what is happening.

You can use the tips above to help you when conversing about dementia to the little ones. Keep in mind that this is not something you will do in one sitting and do away with it.

The communication lines need to stay open so that you can handle any concerns as they arise.

You should also expect new challenges as the disease progresses; thus, be prepared to help the child deal with the on-going changes.

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