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Local InterestBY SHERII SHERBANTeaching Youth About DementiaOne of the easiest ways for children to be comforted, assured, and connected is through activities.Why is it that a senior with dementia will light up when they see children and yet the same children can be somewhat shy with the person living with demen- tia? I believe that some of the reticence comes from the adults around them. They just need to learn that it is OK, and quite possibly lots of fun, to spend time with them.When a loved one receives a diagno- sis of dementia the entire family is im- pacted, including the children. Now is the time, if it hasn’t already happened, that a conversation with the kids should occur. Talking to the kids in a clear and calm way is important. While they do need to realize that there is no cure they should be reassured that they can still love and interact with the person living with dementia. They should be encour- aged to ask questions about the disease. Learn more about dementia in the next issue of Scene.It is important to recall those activi- ties that the adult enjoys, or enjoyed in their youth as well as how those activi- ties might be adjusted for both younger and older children. Together, they can have fun and learn.Reminiscing was always one of my very favorite things to do. My great grandmother used to tell me all sorts of stories when I was younger. I was fas- cinated by all the amazing places she went. It wasn’t until I was in college that I realized that she was telling me about movies she had watched when she was younger. Casablanca was her favorite; Rick was her boyfriend. I tell you this34 SCENE 4308 I BACK-TO-SCHOOLsimply because it’s important for parents to understand that it is not necessary to correct them during the storytelling pro- cess as long as they are both engaged in spending enjoyable time together. Cor- rections can always be made later, even on the way home if it’s necessary.Reminiscing can also happen with photo albums, home movies, or even photos from a box. Ask about everyone in the pictures.Therapeutic activities might include water, walking, or coloring. Maria Shriv- er has a wonderful coloring and activity book called “Color Your Mind” that of- fers a lot of learning along the way. If you can’t find it, any coloring book will do. There is also a coloring pad set with markers that only leaves color on the special paper that is provided, eliminat- ing the need for concern over messes.Water might be perfect on a hot day outside; get out that water hose and sprinkler for some silly fun. If the senior also enjoys gardening, working with elevated gardens might be a great activ- ity and can include digging in the dirt as well as watering the plants, flowers, or vegetables that are growing.Walking in a defined area might also be just what both the smaller kids and the adult need. Older kids can make their way around the block, through the park, or even enjoy a visit to the zoo. Because older kids often have a cell phone they can enjoy taking photos together of vis- its outside and look at the pictures again later. It provides a connection to safety as well in case of an emergency.Creative activities are good for both children and the person living with some form of dementia. Coloring was men- tioned above but there is also painting, making books, cards, or necklaces with baubles, dancing, and so much more. It’s also possible that Grandma can teach the grandkids a thing or two such as sewing, knitting, even playing with the piano. Cooking and baking might also be some- thing that can be enjoyed together.If staying inside is a must then tech- nology can make time together fun by playing games on the iPad, PlayStation, or Wii, or even watching a favorite movie. A musical can make it even more fun and might lead to dancing in the living room if it’s safe to do so.Both might enjoy other games as well, including board games and card games. I learned to play all sorts of card games when I was in elementary school. Canasta was my favorite to play with my grandparents. And who else would have the patience for the never-ending game of Monopoly?With all the fun things to do lets not forget about reading. It can be benefi- cial for everyone. It can help the young learner get more comfortable with words as they are read to and then to become a better reader as they practice reading to Grandma.The bottom line is that spending time with the person with dementia can be beneficial for kids and adults.Miles for Memories is having their annual community stroll on September 15, starting at 10am. Bring out the kids and start learning today.

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