24 September 2010
I Want to Go Home
It is unnerving the first time you hear those words come out of your wards mouth, especially when they are already at home.
Confusion and disorientation take over, logic and reason are out the window. Arguing about reality leads to conversations that end in a stalemate; frustration and anger often take the front seat in the mind of the carer. To the demented mind, what they believe is true is true, period. End of topic.
I have learned this phrase to mean that she's scared. Hugs work really well. Reassurance that everything is going to be OK and words of encouragement that she's safe and secure helps ease her fear.
Mom would run out the door and head down the street looking for "home" so often that I stopped sleeping soundly. I always had one ear open, listening for foot steps and doors closing.
The first time she took off, she was mad at me because I wouldn't take her home... she was already home and no matter how many times I told her, "you're home!" she wouldn't believe me. Eyes off her for only 10 minutes; backyard gate wide open and mom off on a mission to find a home that doesn't exist.
Instead of arguing with her, I now say to her, "Oh? You want to go home? Come this way, I'll take you there, follow me." I take her to her bedroom and show her all of her things. She looks at me in amazement and says, "Wow! How did you do that? Thank you dear."
Sometimes I say to her, "It's right down the hall over there, Josephine Way, follow it all the way to the end and you will be home." That often works depending on how confused she is at the moment.
Thinking that I needed some sort of prop to give her a sense of control, I had a key to the house made for her. She wears the key round her neck on a pretty chain, it is a piece of jewelry to her.
Occasionally she is argumentative about being home. During these times, I take her to the front door, she takes her key from around her neck and puts it into the lock. When it fits, she will say something like, "Gee, that's nice." "I'm glad I'm home." "Ohhhh, how'd you do that?"
My mom NEVER takes her key necklace off, not even to shower or sleep. The key has become her security. She feels safe with her key, rarely do I hear her tell me that she wants to go home.
Since my mom has been wearing her key necklace, she doesn't wander away from home. More importantly, she doesn't wake up in the middle of the night in a panic, dressing herself, packing a bag and heading out the door to look for "home."
The key. Who knew that a tiny piece of metal could help answer the question, "I want to go home."