When a senior with Alzheimer’s asks to ‘go home,’ what does it mean?

Heritage Woods of Minooka - When a senior with Alzheimer’s asks to ‘go home,’ what does it mean?

When someone with Alzheimer’s asks to go home, how do you respond?

It’s common for someone with dementia to request to go home. This is caused by time-shifting.

Time-shifting is when a person’s experience is that they are living at an earlier time in their life. According to Alzheimer’s Society, what they perceive is as real to them as your reality is to you. Time-shifting can be stressful for everyone.

A person with dementia often has brain damage to their short-term memory. Home may describe something more than their current residence. It may refer to a sense of home, a memory or a place that was once comfortable and secure.

When a senior with Alzheimer’s asks to go home, avoid arguing and insisting they are already home. Instead, acknowledge their feelings and ask them to describe home.

Provide reassurance that they are safe. Hold their hand and listen to them.

Keep photos handy. Looking at pictures from their past can ease anxiety and alleviate stress. Direct the conversation to events happening in the pictures. You can also suggest another activity, such as going for a walking or listening to music. Changing the subject can be helpful to someone experiencing time-shifting.

Consider whether the person is unhappy or lonely. These feelings can cause an individual with dementia to want to “go home.”

Talk to their caregiver and if you’re uncertain of their happiness. The staff may be able to give some additional insights into whether the individual is having a bad day or an event may have triggered them to act out of character. Keep track of these occurrences by writing down the date and time in which they occur. Look for patterns such as time of day, whether they are hungry or in the evenings.

Although physicians can almost always determine if a person has dementia, it may be difficult to identify the exact cause. A physical exam and laboratory tests can help identify health issues that can cause symptoms of dementia. Research on new strategies for early diagnosis is among the most active areas in Alzheimer’s science, and funding from the Alzheimer’s Association has spurred significant advances and steady progress.

Heritage Woods of Minooka, an Assisted Lifestyle Community for the Older Adult, 701 Heritage Woods Drive, Minooka, IL, 60447, 815-467-2837, www.gardant.com/heritagewoodsminooka