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Coping With Alzheimer’s Residents Wanting To Go Home

One of the most challenging aspects of coping with Alzheimer’s residents is knowing how to respond when they repeatedly say “I want to go home”. A better understanding of the reasons they feel like this and what they are really asking for can help carers to react appropriately to defuse what could become a difficult situation.

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Why a Resident With Dementia Might Ask to Go Home

Someone living with dementia may be feeling uncomfortable in some way but be unable to express or explain their feelings. Saying “I want to go home” may mean they are feeling anxious, have physical discomfort or need the toilet. There is no point in trying to explain to a dementia sufferer that they are at home already or that they cannot go home because they now live here, as this will only lead to an unnecessary confrontation. The disease means that they may become agitated and more insistent when you try to reason with them.

Responding to Residents Who Want to Go Home

Rather than responding to the words “I want to go home”, carers should try to focus on the emotions behind the words. Remaining calm and saying something like “I know your home is really important to you” will show that you understand. There are different strategies for coping with Alzheimer’s residents who want to go home, and these may be successful sometimes and not others, so it is important to try different responses.

Sometimes a resident can be helped to calm down by giving them a hug if they are feeling anxious. At other times using a comfort blanket can give them the reassurance they need. Other aids that may be helpful are a stuffed toy to cuddle or a doll to care for. It is important for carers to remain calm, as people with dementia can frequently pick up on tension and this will make them feel more tense in turn.

Distraction can often help when someone with dementia asks to go home. Sometimes just agreeing with the person and suggesting something like having a cup of tea or going for a walk may be enough to change what they were concerned about. If you find a certain strategy works, remember that it may not be the solution to the problem next time and plan a range of responses you could use.

Correcting Residents with Alzheimer’s Disease

It can be tempting to correct a person with dementia if they say something you know to be incorrect. Carers often believe it is wrong to agree with the person’s reality, but it is usually kinder and more effective to agree and avoid telling them they are wrong. You can then attempt to redirect their thoughts away from going home by introducing a subject they like or taking them to a familiar area.

If you are unable to redirect their thoughts away from going home, you may find that taking the person out for a car ride is enough to distract them, and by the time you return to the home they will have forgotten about wanting to go home. The best strategy for coping with Alzheimer’s residents is to be calm and kind rather showing that you think they are wrong.

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