I want to go home. Who can help me get home? I need to get home . . . These are common refrains heard from folks with dementia. As family we take the request at face value, and yet how many of us have heard this refrain from within the loved one’s home? It’s a sobering moment when you accommodate them and yet the refrain remains. You have the realization that “home” stands for something else, perhaps something unattainable. After years of hearing this refrain and attempting to accommodate as a recreation leader or as a family member, I’ve come to believe “home” is that space where the individual’s memory was intact and life was normal.
So far we have no anecdote to erase irreversible dementias. When we do, the stress of caregiving will be eliminated and we will finally see if “home” is a place of cognitive health. But in the interim, we can use validation, “You want to go home, what’s your favorite part about home?” What do you like best about being home?”
We can use reminiscence, “I remember my mom being in the kitchen when I got home, how about you? Do you remember your mom being in the kitchen?” We can use sensory memory, “Let’s have some warm milk and honey.”
This weekend encompasses Passover, Easter and the Full Moon. What taste, smell, sight, experience will take you home? Make it your priority,