Helping children understand dementia

Bupa Aged Care homes are trying to educate children and teenagers about dementia and break down some of the barriers and stigmas that may be associated with care homes and people living with dementia.

Here’s how: 

Inclusive environments in aged-care homes

Providing inclusive environments for children who are visiting care homes is very important. 

Some Bupa Aged Care homes have play equipment, such as slides and climbing apparatuses. Many homes also have areas where children can play with toys and colour in pictures, so that children always have something to do when they visit. The residents love to watch children play, but the youngsters can also enjoy activities with the residents and help them with their own activities.
 
Children might also like visiting and interacting with pets in the care home. This can help make the home a fun and interesting place to visit, especially for children who don’t have pets of their own.
 
All of these activities can help children enjoy and even look forward to visiting their relative in a care home.

Babies and toddlers

Some care homes offer playgroups or parents’ groups – Bupa Bellarine, for example, has had a playground since 2006 – and this can help support parents of toddlers, too.
 
In these cases, babies and toddlers learn about visiting a care home right from the start. As a result, the attention they receive during their interactions with residents grows their love of such encounters.
 
The residents give the tiny tots positive feedback and unconditional love. As research shows, these enjoyable childhood experiences are important in helping kids develop the right attitudes towards elderly people.

Primary-school children

Many Bupa Aged Care homes run activity programs that involve local primary-school children. Residents can visit a school to see children attend class, and children can visit the care home.
 
When children visit the home, they may read to residents, sing, put on a play or simply talk and interact. The teachers and staff can explain to the children why some residents have difficulty in communicating with them, experience memory loss or use incorrect words. This support helps the children feel comfortable.
 
It’s wonderful to watch shy or uncertain children gain confidence in their interactions. The residents can be very encouraging and so delighted to engage with the children that the youngsters lose all self-consciousness.
Teen and grandmother using mobile

High-school children

Interacting with residents in aged-care homes can be a helpful and positive experience for teenagers, too.
 
Some care homes run programs that encourage students from local high schools to visit, and many homes have community-service programs that support their local secondary schools. In fact, many teens have become Bupa volunteers in these care homes.
 
The residents welcome these teenagers warmly, ensuring that these new relationships start in a positive way. As a result, the teens gain confidence in the way they handle these interactions, and they begin to see things differently. They learn about the experience of living with dementia and impact of the condition, such as memory loss, through their relationships with people who live with the condition, and though they may feel unsure at first, they soon become comfortable in caring for and supporting the residents.
 
The teenagers help with lifestyle and leisure activities, and they develop special friendships, too. This helps them develop positive attitudes to the elderly, along with skills that help them communicate effectively with people who live with dementia.

Bupa Aged Care

Bupa Aged Care, offers a full range of care including respite, residential and specialised dementia care.

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