What It Means When Someone with Alzheimer’s Says I Want to Go Home

alzheimer's i want to go home

Seniors with Alzheimer’s often ask to “go home”

Does your older adult with Alzheimer’s or dementia tell you repeatedly that they want to go home? You’re not alone. Many caregivers are dealing with this frustrating issue.

People with Alzheimer’s can go through a phase where they constantly ask to go home. For many, it doesn’t even matter where they are when they say this — some are in the home they’ve lived in for decades!


They don’t always mean what they say

When somebody has Alzheimer’s or dementia, they gradually lose their ability to communicate. That means that you can’t always take their words at face value.

Most of the time, when your older adult says they want to go home, they aren’t actually asking to go to the place they used to live.


Don’t feel hurt or offended

It’s natural for caregivers to feel hurt or offended to hear this. You’ve done your very best to provide excellent care and a warm, safe environment, but it feels like your senior is rejecting all your hard work.

For your own peace of mind, it’s important to learn not to take it personally. Because of this brain disease, they can’t control what they’re saying, but you can practice changing how you feel and respond.


What does “I want to go home” really mean?

For most of us, home is the place where we feel the most comfortable, safe, and accepted. Your home is the place where you belong and can be yourself.

Many experts say that people with Alzheimer’s are trying to express that they need the feeling of ultimate safety, comfort, and control. That’s what “home” means to them.

They may repeatedly ask to go home because they feel:

  • Unsafe or scared
  • Agitated or upset
  • Physically uncomfortable
  • Not familiar with their current environment like a new room, new decor, or new people

Of course, for others, it can mean something totally different, like wanting to go to sleep or needing to go to the bathroom. Pay close attention to their body language and observe their reactions as you check for any physical discomfort or personal hygiene needs.


Bottom line

This is a difficult thing for caregivers to hear, but once you understand what they’re really saying, it helps you to not take it personally. Over time, you’ll be able to figure out what your senior really needs when they say they want to go home.


Next Step  Learn 3 ways to respond when your senior says “I want to go home”


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By DailyCaring Editorial Staff
Image: Mitch Hell

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