Most of us have had moments where we find ourselves outside of our comfort zone, which gives you an insight into how a loved one might be feeling when they are in a nursing home and want to go home, but can’t for very good reasons.
A memory care center is one way of helping to ensure that a loved family member who has dementia, gets the help and support that they need. There are also some ways that you can help them to adjust to the new environment that they need to stay in so that they can be properly cared for and stay as safe as possible.
Dealing with a distressing situation
It is emotionally challenging on both sides when you are trying to contend with a situation where a loved one is saying that they just want to go home and don’t want to be in their current environment anymore.
Their evident frustration and even distress, is in turn, distressing for you, as you will almost inevitably have some potential doubts about whether you are doing the right thing and will feel uncomfortable that they are feeling like this.
The fundamental point to take on board in this scenario, is that despite the fact that they seem to know what they want when they express those feelings of wanting to go home, it should be remembered that this is a recognized point in dementia patients.
It has been established that memories that your loved one holds of the distant past can often figure prominently at this point in their condition, more so that recent experiences, which means that when they are expressing their wish to go home, it is because they want to experience those good emotions from the distant past.
The key is to try and take a practical as well as a compassionate view, which means that you shouldn’t take their expressed wish to return home quite so literally, as it doesn’t necessarily reflect what they really want or need at this point in their elderly care.
Avoid an argument
If you encounter this issue with a loved one, the best approach to the situation is not to argue with them and to remember that rational responses don’t always work with someone who has dementia.
Trying to convince a loved one that they are at home now in their new surroundings is not going to be overly successful as a strategy when you are trying to reason with someone who has dementia, as it is quite likely that a fair degree of their intellectual capacity to reason has pretty much evaporated, meaning you could end up going round in circles if you get into an argument.
It often works well to try and deflect the issue by putting a new slant on the conversation. Try to talk to your loved one about home and get them to open up if possible about some of the memories they have.
Just listening to them rather than attempting to reason, will often help what can be a difficult topic to deal with.
It is perfectly understandable that their pleas to return to what they refer to as home are going to seriously tug on your heartstrings and induce some heavy feelings of guilt on your part.
What you have to remember in this situation is that the home that your loved one is referring to is likely to be something that no longer actually exists because it is from a situation and a time that was a long time ago.
You will most likely find that even if you did take the step of taking them back to their last home, they would not be satisfied anyway, because it is not really the home that they are referring to in their mind.
Dementia patients invariably don’t want or recognize the home that they may have left just a matter of months ago. In their mind, they are talking about somewhere that existing many decades before, which is why you shouldn’t allow yourself to get too upset when they tell you that they want to go home.
Use some old photos
One way of approaching their constant requests to go home could be to use photos from their past as a way of going home in their mind, by using these old pictures as a distraction and to hopefully satisfy their demands in a plausible and compassionate way.
Dementia is a journey for you as well as your loved one and it can be an emotional rollercoaster.
Try to adopt a mindset that is based around acceptance and a great deal of understanding. If you know why they are asking to go home and what they really mean when they say it, this can help you to deal with the situation a bit more easily.