Have you had a loved one or a person you take care of say, “I want to go home”?
When I first began caregiving my 2nd client was a woman in her 80’s she recently had hip replacement surgery. Earlier in the year she fell and injured her hip, so many months later she got surgery on her hip. When she finished her rehab and came home she diagnosed with Alzheimer’s so I was one of the people hired to help her. One of the things she would say when she was waking up is: I want to go home”.
At first, I thought that she was confused about where she was, I thought she was still at the hospital. I tried to reassure her that she was at home and safe. Sometimes this worked and when it didn’t, I started to ask her questions. What does your house look like and what would you be doing? When she answered, I realized she was talking about a time when she was much younger. So I just listened and reassured her that I was here for her to help her in her beautiful home.
When I finished my shift, I questioned myself. Did I do the right thing? So I went into research mode and here’s what I found, and it seems my instincts were right.
What it means when a person with Alzheimer’s says, “I want to go home.”
- upset or confused
- unfamiliar with new people, maybe a new caregiver
- a room looks different
- they feel uncomfortable
Many times they are looking for comfort and what they associate with a safe place. Not a confusing situation where things look and feel different. It was usually a place when she was younger with her family & friends around them, so they felt safe and secure. Often happens with Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, when short-term memory starts to leave.
Many experts say that people with dementia are trying to express that they need the feeling of ultimate safety, comfort, and control. That’s what “home” means to them not necessarily a place.
Many times they still have their long-term memory so they will remember their childhood. Depending on the extent of there memory loss, They will tell you detailed stories of their youth.
Music is another fantastic memory they remember. If you put music on from there youth, they will know the words and sing the song. It’s just amazing how the brain recognizes music and can sing the songs of there childhood.
I agree with this amazing quote from Bono. Music can change the world because it can change people.
[bctt tweet=”Music can change the world because it can change people. #musicquotes #music” username=”Staclynny”]
What can you do
Telling them what a beautiful place home is and how safe it is and how loved they are.
I don’t want you to go; I want you to stay here with me and its the two of us, forever. The thought of you far away makes me sad; I want you near.
Keep trying and be patient, repetition is the key to helping short-term memory loss. When the person you care for hears what you are saying every day, their mindset will change to the now and here.
Being a caregiver and hearing the words “I want to go home” is not easy. Don’t take it personally; this is the disease talking, not them. They may become agitated, think about how you might feel if this was happening to you. Wouldn’t you feel scared and confused? It’s tough to watch every day, and this illness takes over there body. Just wait for the different signs and signals as time goes by you’ll find a routine that makes who you’re caring for safe and secure.
Do you have a question or want to share your day? Please reach out I love helping other caregivers.
Who said caregiving is easy?
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