It is not uncommon for a person with dementia in residential care to express a desire to return home. While hearing such remarks, especially from someone who has lived in the same place for many years, might be unpleasant and challenging, know that they are not said out of spite. Instead of jumping to conclusions, take a deep breath and read this article to learn about some of the reasons why a dementia patient wants to go home.
Having nothing to do could be the result of monotony and a lack of meaningful activity in their life. Many times, dementia patients are encouraged to participate in various engaging mind activities such as board or card games to encourage cognitive thinking. Similarly, if you could dutifully plan similar things into their days while caring for them, it would help to keep them from longing to ‘return home.’
It is inevitable that the world for many people with conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s gradually grows smaller as their ability to remember deteriorates. While they might remember the faces of their loved ones, they might start to forget details like their name or memories with them. They eventually will find themselves in an unfamiliar world with no one that they can remember by their side.
As memories start to fade away, dementia patients may become unsure of where they live. Due to the absent memories, individuals may even try to find their way back, possibly to a building where they once lived. Sometimes individuals may feel as if they have been sent back in time and are perceiving it as their current reality, when in fact it is not.
Tolerance to Pain
Check to see if the patient is experiencing any pain symptoms in any of their body parts. At times you will be able to determine if something is amiss through their facial expressions and behavior. If you asked but they were unable to respond straight away, you may try using nonverbal signs and getting them to point to areas of their body that were hurting.
The senior may wish to “go home” if they are famished, dehydrated, fatigued, or have to use the restroom. It can be good to assist them with their daily living needs, such as bringing them something to drink or eat or guiding them to where they wish to go.
Suggestions to Handle The Situation
One of the most effective strategies to deal with a dementia patient who wants to go home is to divert their focus elsewhere. You may, for example, ask for their assistance with a task like folding towels. Through the work given, they would have their attention diverted to the task that was given to them. Playing their favorite music might also be an excellent method to divert their attention. Music that is associated with their joyous moments in their life may be useful to help them relax and calm down. It is also entirely likely that a senior with memory loss will quickly forget that they were seeking their home.