By Mary Ann Drummond
Nearly five years ago, after presenting at an Alzheimer’s caregiver conference, a seed was planted in my heart to write a children’s book about Alzheimer’s and dementia. When the conference was over one of the attendees came up to purchase one of my books. As she was leaving she asked if I could recommend a book to help her young child with the changes her family was experiencing since her mother was diagnosed with dementia. I was at a loss. I had been so focused on education for adults that I had not researched current literature for children.
I soon learned there were several great titles available to help children understand the dementia journey. What motivated me to add to the existing collection was the growing need to help young children not only understand this difficult topic in a sensitive, age-appropriate way, but also a sincere desire to give families tools to help maintain connections for as long as possible.
Last year, I was blessed to partner in this project with a talented co-author, Dr. Beatrice Tauber Prior, and a brilliant illustrator, Julia Walther. The imagery in the beautiful artwork of Grandma and Me helps to capture the child’s imagination. My grandson liked the book so much he took it everywhere with him for two days, even into the move theater!
Together with Beatrice and Julia, my vision for this book came to life in a much greater way than I could have done alone. Children aged five to nine are drawn into the story, learning how to help their loved ones while maintaining a loving relationship. There is a special counseling section for parents at the end to guide them as they continue to work with their child. Grandma and Me helps to address a young child’s feelings, provides tools to help them feel successful in their interactions, and provides answers on how to maintain the connections between family members, despite the disease.
The first review I received was from a young reader who bought the book to help explain dementia to her little brother. Both Beatrice and myself were deeply touched by her words: This book is about a sad topic, but it explained very well about the Alzheimer’s disease. The pictures are very entertaining and captivating. We were drawn right into the book with the exciting story. Now I know more about this, and I can help explain it to my younger brother.
I am thankful for the partnerships that brought this book to life. From the caregiver who planted the seed in my heart several years ago, to my co-author Beatrice, our illustrator Julia, our publisher Morgan James, and most of all, the many special people who have dementia that we have had the pleasure to care for, learn from, work with and know. You are all part of the tapestry that has made Grandma and Me – A Kid’s Guide for Alzheimer’s and Dementia one of the newest resources available for the dementia care family.