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Expert Blog

My mother always wants to go home, but she's already home!

July 23, 2013

My mom is 82 years old and is in early stages of Alzheimer’s…and what I need help with the most is some advice on what to say when she goes to the door wanting to go home, when she’s already home. We go through this at least twenty times a day, from the time she gets up till the time she goes to bed, and sometimes she becomes very angry.

I try to explain to her she is at home and that makes her that much madder, so my question is, what can I do or say to her to calm her down? (I’ve even taken her to her old home to show her it’s not there and it still doesn’t do any good.).

I’m at my wit’s end.

I’ve had many family members tell me they are at their “wit’s end!” Let’s see if we can help you restore some sanity to your life!

First, it may help you to understand that your situation is common. Because of the profound short term memory loss of persons with dementia, they often repeat themselves.

It almost never works to explain and argue. I applaud your creativity in driving her back to her old neighborhood but this often fails too.

The best approach seems to be to address the underlying anxiety that may be beneath this question. Try to draw her out. Ask her about the home. Does she live in the city or country? Ask her to tell you more about her garden, her housekeeping habits, and her decisions about home decorating, etc. Sometimes I find that if you let them talk about the subject it satisfies them.

You can then try to redirect her by offering her a favorite beverage, listening to music, taking a walk or doing some simple chores together (folding towels, drying dishes).

If you cannot break the pattern, consider looking for a nearby adult day center. Keeping her engaged and busy may prove distracting. This may also be the time to hire a good in-home caregiver who can spend time with her and give you a break.

Speaking of taking a break, you may benefit from a support group or doing some simple things for your own wellness. For example, take a walk with her (or get her into a wheelchair for a short trip around the block) or sit outside with her on a nice day to enjoy some fresh air and sunshine.

Her obsession with this topic may gradually go away on its own. Good luck and I hope these ideas have helped.

Thoughts and stories from others

  1. September 19, 2016 at 06:36 pm
    Posted by REED

    I work with a elderly couple and the mother always wants to go home when she is already at home, they can walk very well, but has alzheimer's, when she ask me to take her home i tell her let's go, we get in my car and I driver around the neighborhood and return to their house after about 15 minutes, it seems to work sometimes. Good luck.

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