Why does my mom sometimes ask to go “home” when she is at home? – Sarah M.

This comes up a lot and can be confusing to a caregiver. The natural response is to say, “You are at home” which might prompt your mom to get annoyed with you. Sometimes people with dementia are yearning for a different home: the one of their childhood or their early marriage. It might be a feeling of wanting to be where they feel safe and “normal” again.

It’s always more important to offer comfort than correction.  Some people find that leaving for a walk or a drive and then returning, does the trick. Perhaps looking at personal belongings will help. Asking questions that focus on feelings, rather than facts, might help you to understand her underlying need (“what are you missing about home?”). Use information from her Joy Plan to help you find a way to direct her attention to a pleasant activity: “You miss the garden Grandpa kept? Let’s find some pictures of the plants he had there.”  “Your mom made the best chocolate chip cookies, let’s use her recipe and make some today.” When nothing seems to make her feel better, genuinely saying, “I know you do, and I’m sorry” might be the best you can do. Validate her feelings; offer a cup of tea and a sympathetic ear. 

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