Watching a parent or a loved one suffer from dementia can be excruciating. The sad reality overshadows the nostalgic memories of the past and you’re left caring for the person who had always been there to care for you.
Fortunately, facilities that tend to your loved one’s dementia care, such as Delmar Nursing and Rehabilitation, can help ease the suffering.
But what happens when a parent with dementia wants to go home?
Wanting to go home is a common theme among people suffering from dementia. Their confusion and memory loss cause them not to recognize their current residence, and they long for a home that they remember.1
Why do People With Dementia Want to go Home?
Interestingly, wanting to go home may not be about the physical home they’re referring to.
One theory2 has it that home symbolizes a safe place and time that they remember. Since their long-term memory is still intact, dementia patients vividly recall familiar times and places that have made them feel safe and ‘at home’ in the past.
Wanting to go home is the way your loved one expresses a need for calmness.3 Their disease causes them to feel scared and anxious. So what they essentially saying is, “please calm me down and help me feel safe.
Dementia affects the brain, so you can’t always take their words literally. Other possibilities of wanting to go home include an expression of being upset, physically uncomfortable, needing control, feeling unfamiliar, needing the bathroom, and wanting sleep. So pay attention to their reactions and body language too.4
What to do
The first rule when talking to someone with dementia is to keep it simple and clear.5 You don’t want to confuse them or give longwinded explanation how they ‘are home’ or why going back to their childhood home isn’t an option.
So what do you say?
DailyCaring.com suggests you begin by comforting your loved one. Stay calm and be with them at this time. Next, agree with them and distract them by gently shifting the focus to something else.
You can also start a conversation about your loved one’s ‘home.’ Allow them to share their memories and emotions with you. Maybe that’s all they need right now.
Another tactic is to make them feel safer where they are. You can tell them how important it is for you to have them close to you and shower them with love. But you’ll need a lot of patience to see the fruit of your efforts.6
Do you have a parent with dementia who wants to go home?
Please share in the comments below.