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Children talking about dementia on TV is a milestone in awareness raising

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firemonkee57

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Children talking about dementia on TV is a milestone in awareness raising

The TV programme My Life: Mr Alzheimers and Me explores dementia through the eyes of three children. Sometimes sad, sometimes uplifting, the half-hour programme never ducks the truth, but it is surprisingly positive, largely because of the youngsters’ enthusiasm for life and obvious love of their grandparents.

“He’s in his own world,” Ella, 11, says of her grandpa. “I wish I could have a normal chat with him but I know I can’t. I can’t make the illness go: it won’t”. But she also tells the viewers that we can put money into research, medicines and care homes – to this end she sets out on a sponsored walk.

Joshua, 10, decides to help his granddad – who can’t remember the sportsman of the year award he’s recently seen his grandson win – by making him a memory box in which he places photos and mementos of a lifetime of memories that are slipping away. It’s a 10-year-old’s expression of good dementia practice and will provide not only comfort to his grandpa as his condition worsens, but a useful conversation starter for his relatives as his powers of recall and communication decline.

This would be an excellent programme to show in schools, where the various issues it raises could be explored and debated in a structured fashion. Nine-year-old Poppy, who had never heard of dementia before watching the film with me, says that she would now be able to tell her friends what it was. “There are sad bits but it’s nice the way the people are all upbeat, not grumpy”.
CBBC’s My Life: Mr Alzheimers and Me

The programme marks a milestone in raising awareness of a condition which, though it affects 850,000 of us in the UK, has only recently begun to emerge from the shadow of its stigma.

Hilda Hayo, chief executive of Dementia UK, says that youngsters need support to deal with the tensions and changes in relationships brought about by the condition. “Conversations may be difficult but it’s important for children to understand how dementia can affect personality and behaviour.”

Mr Alzheimers and Me helps them to do so. It was inspired by the reaction of film-maker Natasha Dack’s son to his 95-year-old great-grandmother’s dementia. “The bonds between grandparents and grandchildren are so special, I was keen to explore how they remain strong, even when grandparents find it difficult to remember who their grandchildren are,” says Dack, of Tigerlily Films.

The bonds are there for all to see in Mr Alzheimers. As soon as Ella crosses the finishing line of her sponsored walk, she runs into the arms of her granddad. No longer able to communicate intelligibly, Des struggles to articulate his pride in his granddaughter’s achievement until somehow he summons up the perfect phrase. “You’re beautiful”, he sings, his arms outstretched, his voice strong as he looks Ella straight in the eye, reducing her (and me) to tears.

Mr Alzheimers and Me is on CBBC on Wednesday 4 February at 5.30pm



Children talking about dementia on TV is a powerful learning tool | Pippa Kelly | Society | The Guardian
 
SomersetScorpio

SomersetScorpio

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Wow..
That's just so touching that children are having this conversation - I think it's a really good idea.
Kids aren't stupid, however there are certain things that I can imagine are difficult for them to understand - dementia being one of them.
What a great idea.
 
AliceinWonderland

AliceinWonderland

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Thanks firemonkee, I'm gonna record that.
 
Mayfair

Mayfair

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When is this on?

I want to record this too.
 
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