Today’s guest blog comes from Matt Elliott – an award-winning and best-selling author of books for adults and children. The content has been taken from the author’s blog with his permission. Find out more about Matt at the bottom of this post.

Three years ago, almost to the day, I was in London. I was staying with my great mate from school, Simon Flint, and his daughter (my god-daughter) Grace. I was there on my way home from Donegal where I had attended, by invitation, the opening of the new clubrooms named in honour of Dave Gallaher at the Letterkenny Rugby Club.
Whilst enjoying a few days rest in London, Simon invited me to a meeting at the pharmaceutical company he works for, Eisai. As part of their community support programme, a group of Eisai employees were looking to collaborate with Alzheimer’s Research UK (ARUK) on a charity project to broaden the awareness of dementia and offer support to families who have to deal with the condition.
So, I went to a meeting at the company office and offered ideas on how we could engage children when teaching them what dementia is.

Then I returned home.
The Eisai crew, in conjunction with ARUK, held some ‘workshops’ for families to gain an understanding of what they see and how they cope with a family member (parent, grandparent for example) who has dementia.

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Then, having been sent notes from the ‘workshops’, I was asked to write a couple of stories. My aim was to normalise dementia for children who witness the condition first hand.
As it happened, I was also working on my history of St. Peter’s College (Auckland) and interviewed several old boys whose wives were suffering from dementia. Those gentlemen spoke to me in depth about the symptoms they witnessed (varying in each case) and the effect it has had on their families, particularly their grandchildren.

Now, the stories, Grandad’s Hat and When Grandma came to stay – superbly illustrated by James Threadgold and David Nunn and read by radio and TV presenter Edith Bowman – have been launched as part of a new ARUK Dementia Explained website. Read the blog post here.
I am very happy to have been part of this project from the outset, in support of the work of Eisai and ARUK, and thank the many people  involved for their hard work. I hope these stories are of benefit and enjoyment to kids who are faced with seeing family members change in confusing and mystifying ways.

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Matt Elliott

Award-winning and best-selling author of books for adults and children.
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