I’m having a difficult time explaining to my 10 year-old son that his grandfather is aging. What’s the best way to approach the subject?
Delores in Illinois, 47

Watching a grandparent age can be very confusing for young children. I always try to deal with this in a very practical and straight forward way. First, you should closely observe grandpa and note any changes that are occurring. What physical, mental, and/or emotional changes are apparent? Discuss them with your son and back it up with facts. Keep all information age appropriate.

Always be careful with your word choice. Try to allay any fears in person, not over the phone. Sit on the floor and use a favorite teddy bear so your son has a tactile comfort level while the information is being imparted. Use a gentle tone and be comforting. Sit in front of him so he can see your face and clearly understand what you’re saying.

If grandpa is now in a wheelchair, discuss how the wheelchair helps him retain mobility. If gramps needs more rest, tell your son why. If there is a change in diet, explain that softer foods make it easier for grandpa to chew and digest. Get interactive with any walker, cane, or wheelchair that’s being used. If grandpa is now using a hearing aide, explain why, and what it’s like for him to use it, and how it benefits him. Being straight forward about these difficult subjects should allow your son to be less confused or intimidated by the changes.

Over the last 35 years, Marion Somers, Ph.D., (Doctor Marion) has worked with thousands of seniors and their caregivers as a geriatric care manager. It is now her goal to help caregivers everywhere through her book, “Elder Care Made Easier,” web site, public service announcements, national bus tours, and media appearances. For more information, visit DoctorMarion.com.

Dr Marion Somers

Last Modified January 6, 2010 @ 10:48 am
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