Alzheimer’s is a family disease. Not only does it affect the person with the diagnosis, it affects the spouse, adult children and even the grandchildren. My dad didn’t have Alzheimer’s, but he developed a severe post-surgical dementia, so I’ve got first-hand knowledge about how traumatic it is for grandchildren to witness their grandparent’s cognitive decline.
Well executed children’s books are one way to help kids understand what’s happening, and there have been some good ones published in recent years. I reviewed Still My Grandma and What’s Happening to Grandpa? a couple of years ago. Both are informative, comforting books that can help young children understand that the grandparent hasn’t chosen to change in this dramatic way. They also give the children a tool for sharing their experience with their friends.
Now a new picture book has emerged as a bright light in the genre. The combination of My New Granny’s whimsical art and child-friendly text tell a poignant story that children will identify with. Comforting neutral colors contrast with lively art to give this book a unique personality.
My New Granny features a little girl named Fini whose grandmother develops dementia. Before the changes began, Granny would comment on Fini’s inventive hair styles and help her feed the ducks in the park. After Granny’s Alzheimer’s becomes evident, she admires Fini’s wacky hairdos, eats the bread crumbs meant for the ducks in the park, and can no longer travel or cook.
Eventually, Granny comes to live with Fini and her family because she needs to be watched and kept safe. One day Fini is told to watch Granny for while since her parents are busy. Fini sees Granny is for the time being okay, so she goes to her room for awhile. When she returns to check on Granny, Granny is lying on the floor. Mom gets angry with Fini for neglecting Granny, but realizes that she’s putting too much pressure on the child. The family then hires a woman to come in and help with Granny’s care.
I recommend My New Granny to anyone with children or grandchildren because it promotes acceptance of changes in elderly people whether or not they have dementia. The book, written by Elisabeth Steinkellner and illustrated by Michael Roher, sells for$16.95 online and in bookstores. My New Granny was published in the U.S. by Sky Pony Press.
Published On: December 12, 2012