Page 13 - Miles for Memories Dementia Booklet 2022
P. 13

 Caregiver Solutions –
to “I Want to
Go Home.”
Being able to redirect and distract is a challenging, but very effective technique. It’s a skill that improves with practice, a lot of practice.
Hearing seniors say, “I want to go home” over and over again is something the caregiver of a person with dementia often deals with. It can be frustrating, and sometimes hurtful, to hear especially when they’re already home.
The big question is how to respond in a way that comforts the person with demen- tia, and in some cases calms them down. First, try not to take it personally. You might be surprised to discover that it often does not mean what you think. Realizing this can help you to remain calm as well.
So why are they asking to go home? Most often the person with dementia is trying to express that they need to feel safe, comfort, and control. “Home” signifies a place where they are comfortable, safe and accepted, and where they belong and can be themselves. Generally, they are not actually asking to go anywhere.
They may repeatedly ask to go home because they feel:
• Unsafe or scared
• Agitated or upset
• Physically uncomfortable or in pain
• Tired
• Have personal hygiene needs
• Not familiar with their current environ-
ment like a new room, new decor, or new people
Pay close attention to their body lan- guage and observe their reactions as you make your way through the possibilities.
As a caregiver, the goal is to reduce your loved one’s anxiety and fear so they can let go of their repetitive need to say it. The best thing you can do is to meet them where they are, focus on comfort and reassurance, and respond
to the emotions behind their request.
Once you understand the potential reasons behind the statement it makes it easier to get on the right track to address their concerns. Sometimes a bit of creativi- ty can be helpful as well. Realize that what works one day may not the next, partially because the cause of the request might be different. Don’t get into an argument. Stay positive. Practice makes it easier.
Consider these types of responses to the request to “go home.”
Comfort and reassure. Approach your older adult with a calm, soothing, and relaxed manner. If you remain calm, they’ll start calming down too. They’ll pick up on your body language and tone of voice and will subconsciously start to match you.
They may need a hug, a gentle touch on their hand or shoulder, or simply want you to sit with them. Still others may
find comfort and reassurance from music and/or singing, a comforting blanket, stuffed animal to cuddle, or even a thera- py doll or pet.
Don’t get drawn into reasoning with them or creating long explanations.
While it might be tempting, and you’ve probably already tried it, avoid attempting to explain that they are home, or that they moved in with you years ago, or that they now live in an adult care facility, or...
They have the ability to share their distress but lack the same way to com- municate it as they once did. Conversely, your desire to make them understand often leads to making them more insistent, agitated, and distressed because they feel like you’re preventing them from getting a need met.
Seek to understand. Then use your words to agree, validate, redirect, and distract if necessary. Discerning the cause of your loved one’s distress can guide you in your choices to provide the comfort that they need. The goal is to validate concerns without trying to persuade them other- wise, which will only create more distress. Discover and meet their need, which will provide the security they may be seeking. Sometimes, however, you may also need to redirect their attention to something new. This redirection should lead into a pleasant and distracting activity. Later, casually shift to another activity that’s part of their daily routine.
If nothing seems to be working be will- ing to keep trying. Recognize that they are not being stubborn for the sake of being stubborn; they are trying to communicate. Your goal is to figure out what they are trying to share.
remember when 13
 remember when

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