Talking with Kids about Alzheimer’s: “What My Grandma Means to Say,” a new video.

Here’s a video that shows how to stage “What My Grandma Means to Say” as a play for elementary school-aged students. Performed last October by actors from Prince Edward Collegiate Institute in Picton, Ontario, for 200 students from C.M.L. Snider School in Wellington, Ontario, the play kick-starts discussions to which kids bring their questions, their own perceptions and their experiences about supporting someone who is living with Alzheimer’s. The production was made possible by a community partnership between the Alzheimer Society of Prince Edward County, Prince Edward Collegiate Institute and JC Sulzenko and by financial support from The Community Foundation of Ottawa and The Organix Foundation, Montreal. The March issue of Canadian Teacher Magazine profiled the video among news items on page  34.

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  1. lyla reid
    Posted November 19, 2012 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    I really like your book What My Grandma Means to say.where did you get your ideas for the book?

  2. JC
    Posted February 19, 2013 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    Thank you for your comments. The story came to me in the form of a ten-minute play centred on a moment of clarity in a conversation a boy was having with his grandma who is living with Alzheimer’s. at least a year beforehand , a friend told me how surprised she had been when her mother commented on her haircut when they had not had a real talk for a long time because of the mother’s illness. That anecdote must have planted the thought in my mind. The book expanded on Jake’s experience and was written in response to requests for Jake’s whole story. How did you come to read the book? JC

  3. Rosemarie Clayfield
    Posted February 21, 2013 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    I thought it was good.
    It is hard for people to interact with people with dementia and it is hard for families. People don’t know enough about the disease process even if they have experience with it.
    I liked how they were able to connect and share the experience of talking about the birds. People don’t always understand the waxing and waning of the disease as it does progress.
    He was educated about the disease, allowed to express his sadness but it would be nice if they had focused on what it meant to be in that moment with his grandmother. Reaffirming that it was wonderful he was able to bring that out for her in spite of the dementia.
    I like to acknowledge the difficulty but then look for the positive. Dementia is always presented in such negative terms there is not much attention paid to the positives and possibilities.
    The discussion booklet that follows was very good as well and very necessary.

  4. JC
    Posted February 26, 2013 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    The storybook reaffirms that the moment of clarity was wonderful and that the Grandma’s happiness when Jake visits is what they can hope for, so it does emphasize the positive. The play doesn’t go into that because the discussion it is designed to kick start begins with questions that bring out such issues. Thank you for your comments.

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