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"I want to go home!"

How many times do we hear this?

Often times this happens when we move our loved one to a senior living community. But, sometimes we ARE at home when they say this...now what?!

When we first hear our loved ones say this dreaded sentence, it can catch us off guard and we don't really know what to say. We may come up with something along the lines of the truth, like 'you are home' or 'this is your home now'. However, this isn't necessarily the best thing to say because we are trying to re-orient them to our reality and what we really need to be doing is meeting them where they are-in their world or reality. Additionally, we need to think about 'I want to go home' a little deeper. We need to think more about the feeling or emotion behind the words they're saying. What is 'home' to them? It could be YOU. It could be the home they grew up in as a child. It could be that they are feeling anxious or angry because they are losing control of everything. Perhaps they need to feel safe, secure, in control, or comforted.


Whatever we do to try and make our loved one feel 'home' needs to be individualized. There isn't just one solution. As always, what we do one time may not work the next time. What works for one person may not work for the other. Here are some things we can try:


1. Stop Reasoning with them.

Explaining over and over to them is not helping. They can't process what you are saying and instead may feel like you are controlling them or preventing them from going 'home' or from doing whatever 'home' means to them at the moment. They do not have the ability to reason so stop trying, you are wasting your energy and most likely irritating and agitating them more.


2. Be empathetic.

Think about how you would feel if you wanted to go somewhere such as your home or do something and no one would let you. What if you thought you needed to get something but you couldn't? Maybe this is how they feel so try to comfort and reassure them. Try and be calm with them, always let them know you are there and everything will be ok, love on them, maybe you could slowly and gently try to rub their shoulder or hold their hand, or maybe just moving to a different room or location will help.


3. Try to redirect them.

Just like we all think that what we think and say is important, so do they. ALWAYS start by validating them-always. Validate, then try to distract and redirect them.

Ask them about their home. "Tell me about your home"...this is validating their feelings. Let them tell you whatever is on their mind. And, accept whatever they say. Don't argue if they are saying something that isn't correct or that doesn't make sense. Just go with it. When we ask, maybe it will prompt them to start talking about some positive memories there. Perhaps you can talk about some stories that you have heard about in that home that are happy for them or some positive memories that you personally have as a child in that home. Maybe you can try to ask them more questions such as “What is your favorite room of the house?” Next, you would want to try and lead the conversation to a different topic and distract them with something that they enjoy or that is meaningful to them.

This is difficult. The goal is to just validate what they are feeling and move them to a more positive mood and remove the anxiety or distress for them.


Trying this should help get them to a better place and that's the goal. Again, not everything is going to work every time. You will not always do everything 'right' (whatever that is) and that's ok-give yourself grace, you are dong a great job!



“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”


Maya Angelou


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