It can be hard to know when 一 or how 一 to talk to children about their loved ones and aging in a way they can understand. In my years as an Aging Life Care Manager®, I’ve kept a list of resources for the whole family. This process affects all involved family members and I often hear from adult family members that their children are having trouble understanding these complex topics.

This blog focuses on resources for younger children. Picture books are particularly helpful for several reasons. Children often understand concepts better through visuals because illustrations can depict the emotions, behaviors, and challenges associated with dementia in a way that is relatable and less abstract for their young minds.

Picture books use simple, age-appropriate language that children can easily understand. Concepts are explained using familiar words and situations, and this provides a comfortable starting point for discussions about dementia between children and adults.

Illustrations and storylines in picture books can evoke emotions in children, helping them empathize with characters experiencing dementia. This emotional connection fosters understanding and compassion. The illustrations and story often prompt questions and create opportunities for parents, caregivers, or educators to address the topic in a supportive and informative way.

By depicting characters with dementia in everyday situations, picture books help normalize the experience for children, reducing fear and stigma surrounding cognitive and memory loss, fostering acceptance and understanding. Reading a picture book together can create a shared experience between children and their loved ones who may be affected by dementia with a goal to strengthen bonds and provide comfort during challenging times.

In short, picture books introduce children to the concepts of aging, memory loss, and dementia in an age-appropriate and accessible way. By addressing these topics openly and honestly, children’s books make it easier for families to talk openly about these issues and seek help when needed. Keeping children out-of-the-loop and away from the challenges being faced often make the situation scarier for them because they sense that they are being protected, which makes the losses seem like something to fear.

Here are a few children’s books on this topic:

Bad Words and Dementia by Teepa Snow

This book delves into the challenging topic of inappropriate language and behavior that can sometimes arise in people living with dementia. It provides understanding and strategies for caregivers, family, and friends to respond to these situations with compassion and empathy.

Lola & Peanut Find Their Song by Laurette Foggini

This children’s book tells the story of Lola, a grandmother living with Alzheimer’s disease, and her granddaughter Peanut. Through music, they find a way to connect and create joyful memories together, demonstrating the power of music in dementia care.

The Song in Lola’s Heart by Laurette Foggini

This book continues Lola and Peanut’s story, as they rediscover the importance of music in Lola’s life. It highlights the emotional connection between music and memory, even for those living with dementia, and offers a hopeful message for families facing similar challenges.

Grandma & Me by Beatrice Tauber

This heartwarming book explores the special bond between a grandmother and her grandchild. It addresses the topic of aging and memory loss in a gentle and age-appropriate way, helping children understand and appreciate their older loved ones.

The Remember Balloons by Jessie Oliveros

James and his grandpa each have balloons representing memories and as Grandpa’s balloons float away James is desperate to catch them but is unable to. When the final balloon floats away, James feels the loss but realizes that he now has many more balloons as he has captured memories from grandpa.

A Doll for Grandma by Paulette Sharkey

This is an excellent book to show children how best to interact with someone and how that interaction will change over time as dementia progresses. The ways that Kiera and her grandma interacted will shift and Kiera will come up with an idea of how to maintain the connection after grandma moves into assisted living.

As professional care managers, our client is the aging person; however, we work with all involved family members. If anyone in the family is struggling, we want to provide assistance. This includes the children. Please reach out to us if we can assist your family while facing aging challenges. We can help with all aspects of aging care from home safety, to finding the right resources for estate and financial planning, navigating the complex healthcare system, promoting their independence and quality of life, as well as supporting the family through coaching, education, and support.