How to respond to “I want to go home!”
“I want to go home.” Many caregivers hear this from their loved one even when their loved one is sitting in the living room of the home they have lived in for many years. It also happens when there’s a change in environment or routine.
It’s upsetting to think your loved one no longer recognizes the environment around them, but this is part of the disease. The person may not believe they are in their home because they truly don’t recognize it. Or that person is likely not speaking literally but searching for the feeling of home – a sense of familiarity, security or comfort. So, what do you do in this situation?
As you so often do, you want to connect to the emotions behind the words instead of reorienting them to their place. In other words, “connect, don’t correct.” Validate their emotions and try to meet the emotional need. A hug or hand holding can soothe. Ask them to tell you about home and they may be able to tell you about the feeling of home.
If it’s not upsetting, you can reminisce about home, possibly using photographs in a photo album. If this upsets the person, distract them with a pleasurable activity – a walk, a favorite snack, or listening to music. You might need to make up an excuse as to why they can’t go home – “the house is being painted; we’ll go later” and distract with an activity.
Reassurance and comfort go a long way; let your loved one know they are safe, taken care of and loved.
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