How to handle the situation when someone repeats, “I want to go home”Nectari
A recent trip visiting my father brought back memories. Of my mother saying “I want to go home”. In my dad’s case, he wants to go back to Greece!
It’s common to hear a person say they want to “go home”. Often this situation can become delicate for their family and friends. Potentially leading to frustration, sadness, and possibly guilt. It can become even more sensitive. If the person is currently at home, while repeating the need to go home!
People often wonder what would be the ideal response to calm a person. I remember my friend Ron’s advice. To use the Improv Method of ‘YES AND’. Agreeing with the statement and then softly changing the conversation.
Common theory suggests starting with understanding the reason behind wanting to go home. What is the person with Alzheimer’s trying to tell you? What are they missing? Is anything distressing them? Make sure their distress is not caused by any physical pain or environmental discomfort.
If not, in most cases “going home” means they are seeking comfort rather than a physical location. In this situation, you need to reduce the person’s anxiety. So they can slowly forget the idea of going home.
Stress, isolation, or dementia and Alzheimer can accelerate confusion. Leading a person to start seeing the world in a completely different way. The kindest thing we can do is remain calm, gentle and empathetic.
Here are three ways to better cope and manage the situation:
Comforting assurance: Talk to the person in a polite and soothing manner. It can help calm them. Your body language and tone should make the person can feel safe. Comfort and empathize with them. Reassure them that they are fine. If a hug, or a stroking their arm or hair would help, then do it. If it’s is too difficult for you just sit and listen to their worries. It will give them the comfort that someone is there for them.
Avoid logic: Lead with empathy. When the person is distressed avoid calming them down with logical explanations. Like ‘you are already at home’. It will not make the situation better. Rather the person can become more anxious. Acknowledge their need for comfort. Reassure them and then distract them with something that makes them happy.
Seek distraction: As previously mentioned. The first step is to agree with the person. YES AND. If they want to go home tell them that you will take them home as soon as you finish some work. It will not only calm the person down but also buy you some time to manage the situation. When they are calm, redirect their attention to some pleasant activities or stories.
If the person enjoys watching television or loves music then turn one on. Another suggestion is to ask about their home and slowly neutralize the situation. Encourage them to share the positive and happy memories they have. And seek to understand what reassurances they need. It will help heal the anxiety they are going through.
Now the hard part. What if nothing from the above works?
It is difficult. Despite your efforts they’re still adamant to go home. Remember to keep your mind at peace and not take anything personally. This is when I use a Therapeutic Fibbing, a little white lie. I fabricated a story that our home is under renovations. Once done we will move back. Then we would go for a short ride and keep busy. While reminiscing and telling stories. It is always harder with my dad as he has 100% of his logic. However, a little white lie goes a long way. Remember to stop by some restaurant or ice cream shop to make them feel good.
At times companionship can go a long way. It can help deal with loneliness and provide comfort. You can always hire a companion keeper from uCarenet. By hiring direct. You can personalize a care plan to your family’s needs and budget. You can join uCarenet’s home care marketplace, and create your job post or Care Provider profile here: https://ucarenet.com/join now