A monthly article brought to you by Senior Services Memory Support Programs
Have you ever been faced with the statement, “I want to go home,” from a loved one with dementia who is already at home? Perhaps even the home that they have lived in for over 50 years. Here are some areas to consider when faced with this common situation and best practices to help both you and your loved one.
Remember that this person has a progressive form of dementia, and their ability to reason is no longer present.
- Reasoning or reassuring the person that this is their home may cause you more stress and frustration.
- A person living with signs and symptoms of dementia will often live in their own reality and telling them that this is their home will lead to increased anxiety, agitation, and determination.
“I want to go home” is usually a request for comfort rather than actually leaving.
- The goal is to reduce their anxiety and fear so they can let go of the notion to leave. Remember that the person will mimic your actions, and staying calm is very important.
- Try validating their feelings of missing home, share that you miss home too. Then redirect the person in talking about fond memories of home. You could use statements such as, “Your home sounds lovely, tell me more about it.”
- Use open-ended questions to help engage the person in a conversation.
- Try saying something like, “That’s a good idea. Let’s finish up the dishes first.”
- Consider trying other ways that the person received comfort before the onset of dementia.
Try taking a car ride if possible.
- This will help in validating their thoughts on leaving.
- Drive through a part of town that would be relaxing and enjoyable to the person.
- Stop for a coffee or an ice cream cone to distract their thoughts.
- When coming back home, try to not make any mention of being home now as you don’t want to trigger this memory again.
Look for any additional meaning this phrase may hold.
- If the person is living with more advanced cognitive loss, they may be trying to express to you that they are scared, tense, anxious, or in pain.
- When caregiving for someone with a progressive impairment, it is important to look beyond the surface, as there is often hidden meaning in their messages.
When you start to notice memory changes, seeking early detection is key. Senior Services offers an array of memory support programs including confidential memory screenings to obtain a cognitive baseline, early memory loss programs, consultations and educational classes along with support from Seasons Adult Day Health Services. If you or someone you know is experiencing increasing changes with their memory and could benefit from additional services, please contact Amy Sheridan, Family Support and Activity Manager at 989-633-3764.
Check out our section, Our Mind Matters, next month as we discuss when a loved one no longer recognizes you.