Is wanting to "go home" part of Alzheimer's, even if the patient is at home?

12 answers | Last updated: Nov 16, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

My 87-year old Mother is living with my sister after 4 years in assisted living. Every night she tells me that she wants to "go home," to the town where she lived with my father for over 60 years. She has no family there, and is not able to live on her own. I try to steer the conversation away from this topic, but she brings it up every night - even though my sister is wonderful with her. Is this part of the Alzheimer's process?


Expert Answers

A social worker and geriatric consultant who specializes in dementia care, Joyce Simard is based in Land O' Lakes, Florida, and in Prague. She is a well-known speaker and has written two books, one focusing on end-of-life care and the other, entitled The Magic Tape Recorder, explaining aging, memory loss, and how children can be helpers to their elders.

When she refers to "home," it's as an expression of an emotion. Home is where the heart is -- and her memories and heart are with your father and the home they shared. Unless she becomes too upset, try keeping on hand an album of pictures from the past so that she can reminisce about her life. When she expresses that she wants to "go home," just validate how special that time of life was for her.

If she has progressed to the stage of dementia where she has no touch with reality, it often works best , the house is being repainted right now." Or, "The house is being rented so someone else is living in it right now." Remember this is not lying, but helping the person live comfortably in their world.


Community Answers

Sanity answered...

hi- when my mom who has alzheimers says she wants to go home, she means her bed. i tell her we have to eat dinner first and wait for the dark. she really doesnt understand that because she keeps repeating it all day.


Marktn answered...

I recently went through this with my mother... AD since 2005. I agree this is an expression of emotion, where she feels comfortable. My mother has lived in the same house for 15 years, however I believe this emotion is tied to where her and my father spent there best years before his passing. (Charleston, SC) She would even go as far as packing her clothes etc up to 3 times a day. I found that simply taking her for a short drive, or out to get and ice cream really assisted with this, and found it was really "turned on" during sundowning. It is extremely hard to handle and redirect their focus, so hats off to your sister!! I hope this helps.


A fellow caregiver answered...

"Going home" is actually a catch all phrase for my Mom. She uses it whenever she wants something she doesn't have. My mother (mid-to-severe dementia) actually even says it when she needs to use the bathroom. I have learned to simply say "ok, we will do that but let's finish eating (or whatever else) first. It gets tiring to hear but I have learned not to take it literally.


Wowmomma answered...

My mom hasn't said this yet, but others I know say this because they mentally live in the past and can't connect to the present. Their short term memory is short and they well remember things that happened long ago.


Ca-claire answered...

My Mother did this a lot after she was diagnosed with a mesenteric tumor (Dr. gave her days to live, she lived nearly 10 weeks). My Father had difficulty with this - his AD not the normal AD symptoms - he kept telling her she was home - pointing out the furniture and such. I just told her we were on a trip, and that we would be going home soon. She would then ask me if I had my own room, which I always said yes to, since they lived in Assisted Living. It's difficult, but makes them more comfortable to know that they'll be going home soon.


Palmcoastpatty answered...

I always tell her she is home here with me. At that age they get so confused they want to make sure they can let themselves be comfortable without worry and being assured they are with a family member who loves them and will take good care of them is really what they need to hear. I always ask her if she feels a little confused and she tells me yes. She will usually ask me the same questions and I reassure her she is okay and I will be here with her.


Seejay answered...

I once read that ' I want to go home' meant , 'I want to leave this earth' ? "Home ", meaning heaven. Is this true?


Grandmad answered...

This is very common with folks with Alz disease but I think really what they are asking is to be cared for and comforted... Often for folks with a strong faith Heaven is home! My Mother was born in Scotland when she asks me if I will take her home, I am going to be in trouble... LOL


Just needing advice answered...

My husband is like sanity's mom. He wants to go to bed. Also when he asks me if I want to go with him, he wants to go to bed.


Daliala13 answered...

For every family is different. Having demintia or alhimers .we just have to pray together. I know it's not easy because we are caring for my husband's mother that has this awful diease. It does not get any better. We do the best estimate we can. Her husband died many years ago. Now when it's our turn she thinks my husband is her hudband. Because he looks s little like his father. Try handing that. All s they want is a hug or two , tell them it's OK and them it's OK . I'm not going to lie it is very challenging at times. I read my scriptures in the bible. God wanted us to be kind and nurturing to one another. I remember my mother in law back when. So happy and full of life. I have so many pictures of her and all family members .


Kellysv answered...

My mom had Lewy Body Dementia. Her sister had it too. My cousin thought that when her mom said she wanted to "go home" she meant to heaven. One day when my mom said it she pointed to her bed, so from then on I took it to mean she was tired and wanted to go to bed.