Book gives children an insight into dementia

Matthew Adams' daughter Lana with the book that helps explain how dementia affects her great-grandmother.
Matthew Adams' daughter Lana with the book that helps explain how dementia affects her great-grandmother.
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A personalised children’s book about dementia, created by a Scottish couple and believed to be the first of its kind in the world – has been shortlisted for a top award.

The Ally Bally Bee Project, created by Edinburgh couple Matthew Adams and Nina Aikas with their two-year-old daughter Lana, is up for The Social Enterprise Awards Scotland 2017.

The book which is available to buy online after a Kickstarter campaign raised £10,000 earlier this year, was launched with the aim of easing distress for children and families affected by dementia while also raising money for charities, such as Alzheimer Scotland.

Adams said the idea for the project arose three years ago when his wife’s grandmother, who lived in Finland, was diagnosed in her 90s.

He said: “My wife was pregnant with Lana and her granny had dementia. As I was due to become a parent I was aware of the difficulty the adults in the family had making sense of how Nina’s granny had been acting.

“It got me thinking if it’s difficult for us as adults and family to comprehend, how would I explain it to my child?

“There’s 47 million people in the world living with dementia so there’s obviously a lot of children and grandchildren, whose parents have had to go through that process and that led me to explore what resources are available.

“Dementia affects every family differently. It is not just about memory loss, so that’s where the personalised book came into it, because I realised there wasn’t a one size fits all approach. There was an opportunity to create a resource that could explain dementia in a way that was relevant to that child and that family.

The Ally Bally Bee Project provides books personalised to each child, using names of their own family members and examples of the specific behaviours of their loved one, all with the aim of explaining why they’ve changed.

Adams added: “It’s an honour to be nominated in the ‘one to watch’ category at the Social Enterprise Awards. We’re just a small team doing this in our spare time so it’s nice to know our hard work is being recognised. And to attend the ceremony at the Scottish Parliament, regardless of whether we win or not, will be a win in itself.

“Dementia affects every family differently – which is why we wanted to create a children’s book that was relevant to your family’s situation.”

The team hope to explore other difficult subjects for future books – such as mental health, autism and cancer.

Winners of The Social Enterprise Awards 2017 will be announced at a ceremony at Holyrood on 7 November.