Books (SO21)

My Grandma has Dementia

Alex Winstanley, self-published, ISBN 9798582240631, £7.99

Alex Winstanley’s book My Grandma has Dementia aims to demystify dementia for children. It tells the story from the point of view of a child whose grandma has been diagnosed with dementia and follows through from the initial signs that something is wrong to her ultimate admission into a care home. The illustrations from Adam Walker-Parker provide a colourful accompaniment to the story.

The book is aimed at children from 4 to 11 years old and would be easily accessible for even the youngest children. It explains the degenerative nature of the disease clearly and acknowledges the fact that the individual may not understand who people are or recognise their loved ones but also gives children easy ways that they can help an adult with dementia.

Winstanley deals with Grandma’s admission to a care home in a straightforward and matter of fact way, explaining that it is the best place to keep her safe. The illustrations help to demystify care homes and help to reassure children that they are often the best place for their loved ones.

A diagnosis of dementia can be a scary time for everyone involved but can be particularly unnerving for children who will be unused to seeing an adult who they loved changing and not being able to do the things they used to. This book is an excellent resource to demystify dementia for children. It is honest with the information and explains that dementia doesn’t go away but that the person whom they know and love is still in there. Reading the book with children will allow them a safe space to ask questions and spark a conversation about the illness, including what might happen and how they can help.

My Grandma has Dementia would be an excellent resource for primary schools and libraries. It would particularly help children who know someone who has received a diagnosis of dementia but would also be useful for other children to raise their awareness of the disease. The simplicity of the prose and the vibrancy of the illustrations will help them understand dementia in an accessible way.

Catherine Mulvany, Deputy Head, John Perryn Primary School, Ealing, London.