"Green Kitty" helps explain Alzheimer’s to pre-teens; emphasizes elders’ contributions

  • “Green Kitty,” written by Faer Bryan, takes me back to the delights of my pre-teen years as I listened to my grandparents’ talk of “the old days.” I loved their stories. My mom’s mother, particularly, was a natural storyteller. When my older brother and I would visit my grandparents, who then lived a couple of hundred miles from our community, we’d go with them to historical sites. My grandparents knew more than the young summer guides.

     

    Later, I listened to my own parents tell stories of their younger years. I now wish I’d kept notes, and asked for more information, because there are many gaps in my recollections. It’s too late to learn more, but I treasure what I know.

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    Even Alzheimer’s doesn’t take away history


    Alzheimer’s disease affects short-term memory. That is why so many people who have the disease will ask to “go home,” to a place that no longer exists, because the home they want to go to is their long gone childhood home. That very “disability,” however, is what can make a person with the disease a great storyteller when it comes to family history and even historical events.

    With dementia, there are times of confusion and paranoia, and of course, there are people who never did communicate well. Alzheimer’s likely won’t change that. But don’t write these people off. An old photo album, a scrap book or a trinket box may spur enough memoires to stimulate a great story about what one of your elders or parents did as a child.

     

    Taking time to listen shows respect and eases visiting jitters


    In “Green Kitty,” the ability of an elder to remember the past enables her to entertain and teach, even though she has dementia. The book begins with an apprehensive grandchild being taken to visit her grandma in an assisted living center. Grandma has dementia. Her short-term memory is not good. But can she ever remember old family stories!


    Each time the child visits her grandma, she asks for a story about the green kitty, since her parents had prodded her about that particular story. But Grandma can’t remember that story. As the book moves along Grandma tells story after story, each concerning an animal. Each story is entertaining, with subtle caregiving suggestions for humans as well as animals woven into the storyline.

    The age group “Green Kitty” was developed for is eight to twelve-year-olds, which is one reason I decided to read the book. On ouralzheimers.com, we’ve reviewed several picture books to help young children cope with a grandparent’s dementia. This is the first book I’ve been exposed to for a somewhat older age group.


    What I liked best about the “Green Kitty” is that it shows how, despite the illness of Alzheimer’s disease, a strong bond can continue within the family. The book fosters respect and dignity for an elder, highlighting elder value irrespective of AD related losses. That, in itself, makes the book a good buy. The book can be purchased online at Amazon.com or at www.greenkittybook.com.


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    For more information about Carol visit www.mindingourelders.com or www.mindingoureldersblogs.com.  

Published On: July 19, 2011