With more than 6 million Americans living with Alzheimer's or dementia (2021 Alzheimer's Facts and Figures), you may know someone affected. The enormous changes in family dynamics are hard to handle and hard to explain to children. That's why I really like the book I won from author Paulette Boching Sharkey, illustrated by Samatha Woo, and published by Beaming Books.
A Doll for Grandma: A Story about Alzheimer's Disease shows a close, fun relationship between young Kiera and her Grandma. Kiera notices changes in Grandma that she doesn't understand. Mom explains that there's something wrong with Grandma's brain. When Grandma is moved to a memory care home, Kiera tries to think of ways to reconnect with the Grandma she knew. With her mom's help, Kiera's idea of getting Grandma a doll did the trick. They were able to enjoy their dolls together and establish a different, but still special relationship. The book includes a page for grownups by Judy Cornish, "Helping Children Understand Alzheimer's Disease." While real life may differ, this book gives adults a way to help children understand, with encouraging ideas of how to connect and engage the person with dementia.
Sometimes the process of living with Alzheimer's or dementia is called "the long goodbye." This is well described by my friend Carmen Graber, who graciously allowed me to post her poem here.