A young girl very much misses her grandmother, who has grown more and more forgetful with Alzheimer’s disease. She yearns to visit the nursing home where her grandmother lives, but she’s been told over and over that there’s no point, because, as they say, “she’s no longer there.” But her love for her grandmother—who was always there for her—impels her to visit once a week for one summer. With each visit, she discovers another way they can enjoy and understand each other—and she comes to learn a lot about Grandma’s memory.
With its poetic words and images, What I’ve Learned About Grandma’s Memory will help grade school readers come to know that despite serious cognitive disability their grandparents are always there—and that many things done by children with love can bring joy and help break down the barriers of isolation and loneliness. Grown-ups, too, might find themselves nudged away from the familiar, entirely tragic, view of Alzheimer’s—one filled with misconceptions, stigma and fear—to one that is more balanced, humane, and hopeful.
Dr. Caspi’s winsome and determined young narrator, willing to enter her grandmother’s world, finds her own way to meaningful interactions that can help rekindle precious bonds and preserve dignity, identity, and personhood—almost as though she’s read the research on the best care for dementia.
Some moments for those living with dementia come with greater clarity, some less, and every child will need to find what might work with his or her own grandparent. But following one wise girl’s lead, children can gain tools to support and care for a grandparent with dementia in the loving way that their grandparents once cared for them. They will be able to re-member their grandparents back into society—and in the process, they may even learn something important about themselves.
5% of proceeds goes to Elder Voice Advocates: Available for purchase