How to Respond to a Dementia Patient Who Says, ‘I Want to Go Home’

Consider these practical tips to respond to this request


- Posted on Feb 14, 2019

How to Respond to a Dementia Patient Who Says, ‘I Want to Go Home’

This article is based on information provided by Home Instead Senior Care.

At times, an Alzheimer’s patient may ask to go home. This may happen even if they are in the home they have lived in for 30 years. The request may feel frustrating or confusing for you if you are a caregiver who is working hard to make them feel safe and cared for wherever they are. Sometimes caregivers even feel guilty, thinking their loved one isn’t happy. However, it is not necessary to explain their current and previous addresses. Instead, follow these tips to help calm and soothe your loved one. 

· Remember that you can’t be sure of what the person means by ‘home’. It may be somewhere else than the place you have in mind. Don’t argue, “But you are home!”

· Regard “home” as a feeling you need to read. When people with mid- or late-stage dementia who live in a facility or are hospitalized tell you they want to go home, what they may actually mean is, “I’m uneasy,” or “I’m afraid.”

· Don’t overreact. When your loved one makes the statement, “I want to go home,” it can stir up powerful emotions in family members.  It’s common to blame yourself for having placed the person in the facility, and to think that he or she is deeply unhappy there. But remember that by mid-stage Alzheimer’s, the person is not very capable of manipulating you, if for no other reason than within a short time they will have forgotten what was said.

· Go along to get along.  By identifying the underlying emotional need and trying to address it, by understanding that they may feel afraid or uneasy, you may help reduce their distress. If the underlying need goes unaddressed, the person may grow more distressed—and then is often medicated to calm down.

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