Pre-Schoolers and Old People

20 Mar

I have spent the better part of the last five years dealing with the world of dementia and elder care. And when I started down this path, it was with a pre-school-age child in tow. Before my uncle and my mother became ill, I would have thought there could not be any two more disparate groups of individuals than young children and seniors with dementia. I was so wrong. Little kids and people with dementia actually have a lot in common. Neither are burdened by inhibition or complex thought processes. And while both are prone to tantrums and frustration, it can take very little to get a smile out of either.

Some other things I’ve learned that pertain to both pre-school-age children and people with dementia:

  • Reasoning is futile.
  • Calm is better than chaos.
  • If a toddler or a senior with dementia is upset about not getting their way, distract or change the subject. They’ll forget about it quickly enough.
  • They’re guaranteed to be at their worst right around sundown.
  • Pointing out errors beyond their control is upsetting.
  • Don’t tell your kid his invisible friend doesn’t exist; don’t tell someone with dementia the person he’s asking for is dead.
  • The Montessori method can be strangely effective.
  • Ice cream for dinner is always preferred.

My now seven-year-old  has spent a lot of time with seniors.  I’d imagine far more than most kids his age. I’m quite confident when I say his ability to be comfortable around the aged is far better than many adults I know.  I think it’s because he’s not overwhelmed with memories of how the aging individuals in our lives were before they became ill. But if asked, I’m sure my son would say it’s because they have ice cream when he comes to visit.

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6 Responses to “Pre-Schoolers and Old People”

  1. lifeonmylane March 21, 2013 at 7:56 am #

    I agree whole heartily! Great advice, thank you. And it gave me a smile because my Mom LOVES ice cream!!!!

    • judila416 March 21, 2013 at 10:19 pm #

      LOML: I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I don’t know what it is about ice cream, but it has to be the ultimate mood changer for the very young and the very old.

  2. carolyngooderham March 26, 2013 at 1:31 am #

    This is a great post Judi, you have sized up preschoolers to a ‘T’! And though I can’t speak to the applicability to those with dementia, with your experience I’m trusting your word. Funny how life goes full circle in so many ways.

    • judila416 March 27, 2013 at 4:11 pm #

      Thanks Carolyn: As my son is no longer a preschooler, it’s always good to get the perspective of someone who is with them every day.

  3. kirstyelgar March 26, 2013 at 9:19 pm #

    Yes I agree with everything in this post. I previously worked in a nursery with pre schoolers and am using many techniques from there while caring for my nan. I am writing a blog about caring for her if you’d like to read http://livingwithdementiablog.wordpress.com/2013/03/26/the-dinner-and-the-sandwich-showdown/

    • judila416 March 27, 2013 at 4:16 pm #

      Kirsty: Thanks so much for the compliment and for checking out my blog. I am now following yours and I’m looking forward to reading more about how you are integrating nursery school techniques with your nan. Sorry for the typo in the comment I just posted on your page. That should have read “hard” on yourself.

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