How should I handle my mother when she tells me she wants to go home?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 14, 2017
Goeagles asked...

my mother just moved in with me and my husband. she is asking to go home. what answer works ond day doesn'nt work the next.. I first told her the truth and she was very greatfull we took her . Now she insist she is alright and wants to go home. We live and work in our building 1st floor is our business. and we live upstairs I have been running up and down the steps and am running myself ragged. What can i do to keep her occupied. I take her to the senior center. Thats one hour she complains the whole way home.

Expert Answers

Joanne Koenig Coste is a nationally recognized expert on Alzheimer's care and an outspoken advocate for patient and family care. She is the author of Learning to Speak Alzheimer's. Also, she currently is in private practice as an Alzheimer's family therapist. Ms. Koenig Coste also serves as President of Alzheimer Consulting Associates, implementing state-of-the-art Alzheimer care throughout the United States.

Perhaps the most important lesson is to learn to hear what emotion your mom is expressing when asking to go home. This particular expression of 'going home' is heard in Alzheimer (AD) homes every day across the world. It doesn't seem to matter where the AD person is living at the time; the phrase has to do with the feeling of the person - her emotion at the time. Try to recall a time in your life when you felt like you just wanted to go home - to get away from a situation where you simply weren't feeling comfortable and emotionally secure. I recently found myself in a horrendous traffic jam after a long bumpy plane ride on a trip from the airport to a hotel in a city I'd not been in before. I sat in the back of the cab thinking how nice it would be to 'go home' where this negative scenario would change into a familiar secure setting. I believe that is the same emotional state your mom is in when she expresses the desire to go home. Although your mom has had many losses associated with her diagnosis, her emotions have stayed intact but she has lost the ability to translate these feelings into appropriate words. Instead she is letting you know, the best way she can, that she is not feeling secure and comfortable. Try answering her emotional state rather than her words. Say "It's difficult to be away from home. I remember when I first left home...." This kind of response lets her know you are hearing her feelings and you are not only reassuring her but refocusing her negative feelings onto something positive. This takes practice but I'll wager you will try it and find it successful and new interactions will occur. Good luck!