Featuring Y. Y. Chan, author of It’s Me Grandma, A Children’s Book About Dementia

About Y.Y. Chan - Grandma, It's Me

Grandma, It's Me - Y.Y. Chan By Y. Y. Chan, Hong Kong

Grandma, It’s Me! is a fictional children’s book about dementia. The story is based on my experience with the closest grandmother I had ever had – Ada. When she first started forgetting, it seemed very odd. Sometimes, she’d remember a lot of details about certain events in the past but would forget what happened earlier on the same day. She often repeated herself while retelling her stories and said some strange things. For the last five years of her life, she kept asking me about my studies or why I wasn’t at school – thinking I was still a teenager! It was frustrating, having to remind her repeatedly. Looking back, I wish I’d been more patient and understanding.

She left us in April 2020, after being in and out of the hospital. The night she passed, my mom asked us to record a message to play for her the next morning. I started gathering my thoughts, but the nurse called a few minutes later and suggested visiting, as she had very little time left. We rushed there in a taxi, but we were too late. I held back tears as I touched her cold frail hands, and whispered, ‘I love you’ into her ear – I’d never said it aloud to her. I’ll forever regret not telling her how much she meant to me. When I got home, I knew I needed to write Grandma’s story. It was my way of telling her everything I had never told her before. Even though everything in this book is fictional, I incorporated some real-life scenes through the illustrations, which were based on photographs of my grandma and me.

I wrote my story as a series of diary entries from the perspective of a young girl, as she observes what is happening to her grandma over several months. Writing was a healing process for me, because even though I don’t journal as often as I would like to, it was an outlet for me to express my emotions freely and openly. Each entry shows how the little girl, Riley, learns to be patient and understanding, trying different activities together, and most importantly, showering her grandma with love.

I grew up thinking that my thoughts and feelings should be kept private and that it would make me look weak to show them, even expressions of love. I realized I’d been suppressing everything for so many years because I never read stories like these growing up, with characters that looked like me. I thought there was something wrong with me and no one would understand what I was going through. Or maybe no one around me was brave enough to express themselves either.

I hope that through this book, children can understand more, not only about Alzheimer’s disease and dementia symptoms, but also more about their own emotions. I want to encourage more children to tell their loved ones they love them, and to simply be present and spend time together – even if they can’t remember. I hope children will also develop empathy, patience and understanding of what it’s like for someone going through memory loss. It’s not easy for a child to see things from another perspective or understand why something so simple for them can be so difficult for someone with dementia.

This story isn’t just about dementia, but about unconditional love. No matter what stage of life or challenges our loved ones are going through, we should simply love them through their journey, and love them until the end.

Visit https://bit.ly/yychan-grandma for more information about Grandma, It’s Me, including an Activity Pack, original song, and read aloud videos.

Y.Y.-ChanAbout the Author

Y. Y. Chan is a multi-award-winning children’s book author based in Hong Kong. In 2020, she made a New Year’s Resolution to write and publish a book and has not looked back since. Her first two books have each received international book awards.

As a child, Chan grew up in sunny Brisbane, Australia. After graduating from university with First Class Honours in Primary Education, she returned to Hong Kong to teach English. She also has an M.A. in English Language Teaching, and has been teaching English for over ten years.

When her father passed away, she took a break from teaching to travel, read, and write. She now tutors English, works freelance as an editor and instructor for various educational institutes, and runs writing workshops for kids. When she is not writing or teaching, she is either reading or looking for more books to add to her overflowing bookshelf.

Connect with Y. Y. Chan

To see news and updates on her work, visit https://www.yychani.com. You can also send an email to yy@yychani.com to let her know what you think of her books.

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  1. I have two grandchildren ages 3 and 6. When my husband, Scott, was alive and in a nursing home, Killian (age 3 at the time and now 6) would visit with his parents. Killian still remembers Grandpa Scott and we talk about Grandpa when Killian spends the night. I am looking forward to reading your book, Grandma, It’s Me, to both grandchildren as I want them to keep Grandpa’s memory alive. I wrote The Phoenix Man for this reason, too, but I also want to reach as many people as possible who need guidance in caring for someone with dementia.

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