CELIA AND NONNA
A new children’s book, beautifully written and illustrated, aims to help families and carers dealing with dementia explain the situation to children.
The Author: Victoria Lane, has graciously agreed to share a little about the process she went through as she wrote the story of Celia and Nonna.
This story began with a very strong memory. The starting point for Celia and Nonna was that sense of nostalgia, or loss, for all the lovely things that Celia and her beloved grandmother used to do together – but can’t any more, due to Nonna’s advancing dementia.
So I had the first half of the story, but I did not want it to be about loss. I wanted to create a positive story.
So Celia finds her own way to make the changing relationship with her Nonna still special, with a creative solution that I hope will inspire other kids and parents in a similar situation.
Celia and Nonna grew out of a time in my life when I had both ageing parents to help care for, and little kids as well. I was part of the “sandwich generation,” with caring responsibilities at both ends of the spectrum. When my Dad was in a nursing home, and I was taking my young children to visit, it was very hard to explain to them why he was no longer at home.
I’m a journalist, so the first thing I did was some research on this difficult situation. I tried to find some children’s books on the topic that I could talk through with my children. But children’s books about dementia are few and far between, so I ended up writing one myself. As a journalist, I have spent more than 25 years writing non-fiction. So it was a big change for me to start writing for kids. But this was an important story that needed to be told.
Celia and Nonna is that rare thing: a heartwarming story, simply told, that has layers of meaning tucked away beneath the surface. With this story, parents and carers can begin the conversation with children to help explain the changes affecting their relative with Alzheimer’s or dementia, reassure them, and find a new way to connect. Because life is always changing.
by: Victoria Lane
Young children can become confused when coping with a loved one who has dementia. They’re general attitude about medical conditions is that they “caused it,” or “they will get it.” So every child coping with a loved one who has dementia needs to know it isn’t their fault and they will not “catch” this disease. And to that, they should have the reassurance that the family member with dementia still loves them even if their behavior is inappropriate at times.
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