Nana and baby Lincoln

‘It’s like someone has changed the lightbulb for a much brighter one’: When Nana met my baby boy

Just a few months after the birth of Lydia’s son Lincoln, her Nana Berenice was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. Despite the initial shock, Lydia is happy to see Nana and Lincoln share precious moments together.

Dementia can be a very dark place. Each time I see a part of Nana slip away it’s like someone has dimmed the light on our relationship that little bit more. 

What happened to the colourful, vibrant relationship we once had? The laughter, the support and the love? The card games we played, the stories we shared and the copious amounts of plants she’d order from the magazines that came through the door? 

Nana had always been a hugely independent woman. She was so full of sass and determination. But when she knew you needed some TLC, she always became cuddly and softer around the edges. 

Close to home 

Four years ago, before her diagnosis, Nana asked if she could move from Lancashire down to Nottingham to be closer to me and my husband. We were flattered. Nana had become less mobile in recent years, so it was great having her closer to home.

I don’t think any of us could have predicted the journey we were about to begin and the significance of how important it would be for her to have family close by.

Lydia and Nana smiling

Lydia and Nana, before her diagnosis

When I became pregnant, I knew Nana wouldn’t be able to be as active in my little boy’s life as she had been in mine. However, I never for a second considered that something as life changing as Alzheimer’s would also steal so many potential memories to be made. 

A special bond

Nana was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s when my little boy was only a matter of months old. It turned my whole world upside down. 

My life went from being one big, happy, exciting place, with the new addition of our baby boy, to what felt like a room closing in on me. We had so many questions and worries for the future. 

However, I underestimated the power of love. No illness, confusion, immobility or diagnosis can stop the unconditional love my Nana has for her great grandson.

Whenever we go to see her, all we need to do is pop my little boy in his highchair in front of her and that’s it. It’s like someone has just changed the lightbulb for a much brighter one.

The joy that they bring to each other’s lives, and subsequently to mine, shines full beam. They will babble and natter away to each other, smiling and cooing. Neither of them particularly making sense, but they don’t mind. All that matters is that they are making each other happy. 

Lydia, Lincoln and Nana

Lydia, Lincoln and Nana

Moments of magic

Who knew? Who would have thought that a toddler, with no real understanding of the heartache, no knowledge of the complexity of this awful disease and no ability to pick up on the long pauses, forgotten words and confusing sentences, would bring such happiness to not only her life but to ours too?
We’ve since had another new arrival – my daughter, Amelia. Nana struggles to fully understand who my daughter is, where she came from and who she belongs to, but that’s okay. She’s doing so incredibly well and even though she doesn’t know who this new bundle of beauty is, she still accepts her into her home and into her safe place. 

Nana may not know who my daughter is, and she may soon forget my little boy, but for now these moments are magical. Even if neither of them will consciously remember it, they are leaving imprints on each other. We’ll cherish these memories on their behalf.   

If you have a question about dementia or need some support, call our helpline to speak with our expert advisers, or join Dementia Talking Point to chat with other people in your situation. 

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What a wonderful heartwarming blog. My mum died several years ago with Alzheimer's disease, but some of the last memories I have of her interacting (outside our family) were with the young children of the staff at her care home who sometimes came in, and with those we met on outings to cafes and parks. No introductions, not even an ongoing relationship, but for their time together, they engaged and made each other happy.

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I can relate to that Linda. Barbara will talk to any child, anywhere, anytime.

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I can relate to Berenice's story - my wife Barbara has Alzheimer's
but comes alive when she sees our grandchildren or great grandchildren - generally can't remember there names but that doesn't matter. She always been great with children having been a child minder, TA and nursery nurse over 30 years

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I am so glad you have discovered the joy children bring to people with dementia. I take my 3 year old grandaughter to visit my mum every week and although mum does not understand the relationship, whrn I visit alone she always asks where 'the little girl' is. Children can teach us so much about acceptance.

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I am a carer and my partner Margaret loves babies. If I ever lost her in a supermarket, I just had to look for the nearest baby.

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