New Book Shows Kids What Happens When a Loved One Has Alzheimer’s
A new children’s book could help kids better understand why their loved ones who have Alzheimer’s disease or dementia act differently than they used to.
Written by Julia Jarman and illustrated by Susan Varley, “Lovely Old Lion” tells the story of a young lion named Lenny and his grandpa, King Lion, who has Alzheimer’s disease. No longer the playful grandpa Lenny always loved to play with, King Lion forgets names, doesn’t remember the rules to games and seems less interested in Lenny altogether. Confused and sad about what’s happening to his grandpa, Lenny turns to his friends and his grandma for help. Together, they all help King Lion by reminding him of good times past and encouraging him to play with them even when his memory isn’t clear.
Jarman, who lives in Bedfordshire, England, decided to write the book after a librarian friend told her there was a desperate need for books explaining dementia to children.
“So many children are feeling confused and upset because a grandparent is behaving oddly and even hurtfully, forgetting their names and not recognizing their faces,” Jarman told The Mighty in an email. “Many grandparents take such an active role these days, playing with grandchildren and helping with homework, so it’s very obvious when they stop.”
More than anything, Jarman wants children to understand that the changes in their loved ones due to Alzheimer’s disease are not their fault. She also hopes this book inspires young readers to do what they can to help, just as Lenny and his friends do for King Lion.
“They can’t cure dementia, but they can do something to make their [loved one] feel a bit better,” Jarman told The Mighty. “I just hope it does a little bit to help educate people and make them feel empowered to do something.”
“Lovely Old Lion” is currently available for preorder and will be downloadable for Kindle on August 6. The book will be released in print in September 2015.
Photos courtesy of Anderson Press.