Helping Your Kids to Understand Aging

Understand AgingAs your parents age, if can be tough to explain to your children just what’s going on with their grandparents in a way that they can grasp. Answering questions about ageing isn’t always easy, but it’s important to help your child understand the physical and behavioral changes that their grandparent is going through as they grow older.

Communicate

You can make things easier for your child by having an open and honest discussion with them about aging. Gradually introduce your child to concepts such as declining physical health or the onset of dementia. Remember to go slow, as giving too much information at once can be overwhelming and may just further confuse your child. Before anything else, you should talk to your kids to figure out their worries concerning an ageing grandparent before launching into your own explanation. Asking simple, open-ended questions such as, “How did you feel about seeing Grandpa today?” can help to start a dialogue. You can ease their fears with simple reassurances and by explaining what to expect when a grandparent has an accident, is diagnosed with a disorder, or moves into a residential care setting.

Keep Things Simple

How you talk to your child about their aging grandparents will depend on how old they are. An eleven-year-old can understand abstract concepts such as aging and death with much more clarity than a four or five-year-old. You should aim to give appropriate details based on a child’s age, emotional maturity, and state of mind, and try to explain everything in the simplest terms possible. Leave out any nonessential details that might just create more confusion or panic for your child. You should also try to make your explanations relatable. This can help your kids understand the situation at hand by making connections and drawing conclusions from their own life.

Stay Positive

Aging grandparents often have trouble with physically exerting activities, and they may no longer be able to play tag or give piggyback rides like they used to. It’s important to remind your children that just because grandma or grandpa can’t play with them anymore doesn’t mean that they are no longer loved. Children may also be concerned about behavioral changes that often accompany old age and cognitive decline. It can be difficult for kids to understand why their grandparents are suddenly much more forgetful or cranky. You should keep a positive attitude when explaining to your child what’s going on, and make sure that they understand that their grandparent still cares about them.

Schedule Visits

Regular visits with the grandparents at their home or assisted living community can give you the chance to show your child that, despite their age, older adults are still able to maintain an active and fulfilling lifestyle. Your child and your parent can bond over activities such as board games, story books, scrap-booking, and more. You can even encourage children to participate in small care giving tasks during visits to boost their confidence and help them to feel involved. Simply by being around their grandparents, children can get used to the idea of an aging relative.

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