When Mom Asks to Go Home

It’s heartrending when your parent or spouse says, “I want to go home,” when you visit them at the nursing home.  “Why don’t you take me home?”

This makes us feel guilty when we can’t do as they ask.  However, at a support group meeting, when my mom was in the nursing home, the family coordinator gave an explanation which made sense and stuck with me.

“What does your family member mean by home?” she asked. 

Then she went on to explain that it depended on which era of their life the patient is living in at that moment.  “Home” may mean the one they came from previous one to the nursing home stay.  It could mean where she lived as a child, her home when at college, where she lived after marriage or many more. 

Or, she added, it simply might mean her room at the nursing home.  She suggested you try putting your arm around the patient’s shoulders and walk with him/her to their room, settle them in their chair and chat or read.  This often solves the problem.

When we look at the Alzheimer’s person’s situation or request with our preconceived ideas, rather than trying to look at it through their mind, we simply become more upset.  Thus we upset the Alzheimer’s patient, too.

Caregivers Need Friends

Caregivers of Alzheimer’s family members can’t handle it alone.  If they don’t get caregiving help, they at least need someone to talk with.  This isn’t necessarily a family member, although it can be.

There are community caregiver groups that give you opportunities to meet with others experiencing the same situations.  They may be conducted by your local hospital, home care association, senior center or local nursing home.  Nowadays, there also are online caregiver support groups.

With me, it was my neighbor to start with.  Then I found a caregivers’ support group at the nursing home where Mother eventually resided.  My neighbor was caring for an aunt with Alzheimer’s.  I was responsible for my mom and her sister.  We shared information…laughed and cried about our situation.  We felt better after a chat, just knowing we weren’t alone.

If you’re a caregiver, look for these support resources that will help you maintain your emotional strength as well as physical well-being.