My grandmother is currently sick and at hospital. Basically, she has Alzheimer's disease and she has not much time left. The last time I saw her, a few weeks ago, she was very thin and not able to recognize me. I hasn't felt strong enough to visit her again since.

Now my family asks me to visit her with my 2.5 year old daughter. I will visit her essentially because my father and my grandfather asked me and need support. But I don't want my daughter to come with me.

For my grandmother, my daughter has nearly been her reason to live, even if we have not visit her often (perhaps 3-6 times a year). I used to call her every week before she goes to the hospital and she was happy to listen to my daughter playing or anything. On the other side, honestly, my daughter probably remember her but doesn't care - she's someone far from her, nothing like her direct grandparents or aunts.

I just think a hospital for old, sick people, losing their minds, is not a place for children of her age. She won't understand what's happening and I don't know how she could react, or what the questions she could ask.

Should I bring her when I visit my grandmother? If not, how can I explain it to my family?

EDIT: I visited my grandmother without my daughter. I wasn't sure about my reactions rather than my daughter's reaction. My family was much understanding than I expected.

  • You can explain it exactly the way you explained it to us. It is taking a toll on you, you are afraid what it will do to your daughter and that (because it is also taking a toll on you) you would not be able to adequately cope with whatever she needs afterward. But maybe it is possible to still set up a call where grandma can listen, with a little help from the hospital staff?
    – skymningen
    Jul 6, 2017 at 9:29
  • @skymningen thank you for your comment. We already had a call perhaps two weeks ago. My grandmother was happy even if she was in her own reality. I don't think she remembers. My family still wants my daughter to be physically there.
    – Neow
    Jul 6, 2017 at 9:41
  • But you are the mother and you can refuse. Offer to bring paintings she made, take current photos and look at them with grandma. I was 25 when my grandpa's dementia was so bad he could not live at home anymore. I visited, but it was hard. Grandparents have a special place in your heart even as an adult. And my parents keeping him updated with my life did make him happy (as I know of one of the last "clear" sentences he uttered).
    – skymningen
    Jul 6, 2017 at 9:49
  • @skymningen I am the father actually :) Pictures are a good idea, paintings as well.
    – Neow
    Jul 6, 2017 at 9:52
  • 2
    Have you checked that children are allowed in this particular hospital? Sure you want to address your child's welfare on the mental-side, but do not forget to take into account her health-side. As you said, it is "a hospital with old, sick people", which may have age-based limitations on visitors to protect them.
    – le_daim
    Jul 15, 2017 at 20:46

5 Answers 5


It will totally be your own judgement here. I would take my children. I take them already to the nursing home to just visit people. Old people, even those without much faculty left, often love small children. I have no fear of old people & have always adored them. My mother took us all often to visit a number of relatives in various homes & I was very used to it. My children are as well & we go now simply as volunteers, to spread a little cheer, particularly for those that rarely have visits.

Many people I know are very astonished that I take my children to visit people with issues, like alzheimers, strokes with facial paralysis (so like can't close their mouths), tracheotomies (tubes breathing for them through an incision in the neck) and other issues, as they assume it will scare my kids. I imagine because I've never shied from it, and I myself am at ease, that they too learn to be at ease & seem not at all bothered by it other than to have obvious empathy for their woes. I always ask at the desk about who we should stop in to say hello to & who isn't up for visitors, as the staff knows & can assess.

So if I thought it would make gramma happy to see her, I'd take the child. But that is me. I cannot & should not speak for what other parents should do in their situations. It would be more concerning to me to take my 10 year old so see a grandparent that was loosing her mental capacity than it would be to take my 3 year old. My 3 year old is relatively oblivious about such things, as my 10 year would possibly be deeply upset by it.

For me, I've had enough things I've regretted not doing while I still had time, I'd reflect deeply on whether I may ever wish I had. If you are sure that you don't think that will ever be the case, then tell them to respect your wishes & that as a mother you have decided that you are not comfortable bringing her & that is not going to happen. What I would do is offered only as perspective. I do not in any way think that means that is what all people should do. We each have to pick & choose what we think is best for our own kids in such things.

I am sorry your gramma is passing. That is very hard.


Speaking from some experience, my grandfather died when my child was around that age. I took her with me both to visit while he was deteriorating and to the funeral. She behaved herself well; I think most kids pick up the solemn atmosphere and won't try and run around or scream.

In the end, my daughter was a great support (read: distraction) for the family. She was fairly oblivious about what was happening and we had to answer some questions, but basic answers work fine. These tough situations are a way for families to bond and having members there, even ones that don't understand, really helps with the accepting/grieving/mourning process.

It's now a few years later, and it doesn't seem like the ordeal affected her much. She's been to more funerals since and while it helps her understand death, she's not scared of old people or dying or any such things. I don't think she really remembers these earliest funerals anymore these days. The one she went to when she was 4 very rarely comes up again, so that she still knows.

Which does not answer your "should I?", which is really up to you. I just wanted to share that your child will probably not be traumatized by the experience and it is likely your family will appreciate her being there. But also almost certainly they will understand if you say you don't want her to experience this. Just be honest about it; state you don't think it's good for her to see this. At worst, they might react negatively at first but remember that they are likely emotional. They'll come round.


I was recently in a similar situation; my grandmother has Alzheimer's as well as a broken hip, and I visited her in hospital with my 2.5 year old son.

I found it very sad, but the discomfort was all mine. My son was absolutely his usual self. The only difficulty was convincing him not to run and play where he might knock over medical equipment. He is happy to meet people, and does not care if they are mentally or physically disabled.

For her part, my grandmother couldn't remember my son's name; but she was delighted to see him, and so were the other people on her ward. It seems like the good feelings from such a visit remain, even hours later when she has forgotten what actually happened. If you don't feel able to visit yourself, you might consider allowing your daughter to go, accompanied by your parents or another relative.

In your case, the best that can happen is a positive visit like the one I described. The worst plausible outcome is that your daughter is somehow frightened or upset, and has to leave early. Toddlers usually recover very quickly from being upset, but I understand the wish to protect your child.

If you feel it is best for your child to stay away, you absolutely have the right to make that choice. As for telling your family, all you can do is explain your reasoning, and then repeat as often as necessary that you have made your decision; because either way it is your decision, not theirs. All I can offer is my own experience, that a visit with a toddler to a relative with Alzheimer's can be a good experience for them both.

  • This is a very good answer. It is totally similar to my situation (my grandmother broke her arm before going to the hospital).
    – Neow
    Jul 20, 2017 at 7:45

I understand your reluctance to put your child in an uncomfortable situation but at 2 1/2, it is likely your daughter won't remember the visit. With your grandmother in the state that she's in, there's the likelihood she won't recognize your daughter nor remember her visit. Then again, with Alzheimer's, your grandmother may be in a moment of clarity, and the visit may be very meaningful.

However, in situations like this, I ask myself which decision I will regret in the future. This is a question you must answer. Then act accordingly.


Which do you want to tell your daughter in five years?

"Your great grandma loved you very much, and you were there for her in the end."


"Your great grandma loved you very much, but you weren't able to see her toward the end."

You should bring your daughter.

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