Many people are unaware of the fact that dementia can affect younger people. Often called ‘early onset’ or ‘young onset’ dementia, it can in fact affect adults between the ages of 41 to 64. As it is not as well known, there is less support available to those living and affected by it, including very young children.
Branch Directors of Banyan Home Care Services, Charlie Draper and Caroline Blanchette, have written and illustrated a book, The Memory Journeys, for children aged 6-9 years old whose parent has young onset dementia. The books aim is to tackle the difficult task of communicating to a child the diagnosis of dementia and how this will affect them; and acts as a tool to explain what dementia is, prompt discussion about changes in behaviour, understand how this may affect them and to reassure them that there is help and support available.
The book is supported by an education toolkit. This includes games and puzzles and a prompt sheet outlining different areas to explore within the book.
The book was further expanded through work with The Watermill Theatre, Newbury, when it was turned into a play and toured local schools. The play was supported by workshops with the children exploring how they could make a difference to the life of someone with dementia. The play reached over 1000 students.
With very little tools on the market for children of young onset dementia, we would wholeheartedly support the use of this tool.
The book and toolkit can be purchased from charity Younger People with Dementia (Berkshire) via their website www.ypwd.info/shop