Dad is 79 and has dementia. He has been in a long term care facility for a year and a half now. Prior to that, he lived at home - alone in his house. When he was there, he wasn’t safe and I know he wasn’t happy.
Before lockdown, I visited almost every day to keep him social and engaged. Even back then, he constantly said he wanted to go home. I used to think he meant his house, which I knew he couldn’t go back to - even with an aide. I tried looking at other places with him, I offered that he come live with me, but we never got anywhere because he hates change and we ended up talking in circles. Now, I’m beginning to think “home” wasn’t the home I thought. When he refers to home, he talks about the house and family he grew up with. He doesn’t care that I’m his daughter - nor does it calm him to hear me say how much I love him and that he’s safe where he is. Being back in the house he grew up in with the family he grew up with is the life he wants and there is nothing I can say (whether it’s getting in his world or trying to talk sense) that will change his mind or make things ok. In fact, if you didn’t know he had dementia, you’d swear he was being held against his will. He’s so logical while he’s arguing with me and when I try to turn his negatives into positives, he literally tells me that I’M not making sense!
I’m now allowed to visit once a week indoors for 2 hours. We talk, watch TV, talk some more, and usually have a good time. But when it’s time for me to leave (mind you no one tells me it’s time to leave except him), he starts saying that we both have to go. He says he’s leaving too because he has to get home to his family (and again refers to the house he grew up in). He says he doesn’t want to be there and although it’s nice, it’s time for him to go. It’s heart wrenching and there’s nothing I can say to leave on a good positive note. I have so much anxiety and guilt that it consumes me. My parents have been divorced since I was 5 and I’m 53 now. My relationship as a child with dad was weekends only and as an adult, dinner on Sundays. I don’t feel that our relationship is estranged from my childhood - just the opposite! I wish my dad could trust me, be content, and accept that he needs this.
I love my father so much and I love visiting with him, but knowing what the last 5 minutes of our visit will be like, makes me not want to go because I dont know what to say and how to handle this. (And I tried to refer to where he is as “home” but he says - are you kidding me?? This is not home). Ugh.

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I had an experience last year that brings a couple of things to mind. I was visiting someone in NH when another resident (that I happened to be acquainted with) was wandering hall looking for her mother. I started asking simple questions about her mother. Then I would seize on something in that answer and lead her to another subject. All the while I was walking her toward the dining area, as it was close to lunch. Then I suggested she sit at the table and told her they would be serving lunch soon.
Two things here: One was taking what she said and leading her mind in another direction. Second, it worked out that it was almost time for lunch.
Perhaps you could try something similar. If you could time your visit so that you would be leaving just as a meal was being served, or some other activity, it might help you break away.
And if you find anything that works, please come back and post.
Helpful Answer (1)

This is the norm. A lot of people with dementia or alzheimers say "they want to go home."

Referring to home grew up in. Their mind is taking back in time.
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It will pass (unfortunately as the dementia gets worse), and you are right HOME is not your house or his last house but where he put down his childhood memories - so you cannot be right. Talk to the facility he is in and get a story straight with them so you are both saying the same thing - perhaps he can go home when Dr is happy that he is not at risk of having a fall (or something that you feel appropriate). Good luck, don't feel bad - there is nothing you can do, it is part of this horrible illness, but it will pass.....
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1) You tell him you will be by tomorrow to take him home. Hugs and kisses. Night night. It’s like the movie “Ground Hogs Day”. You just keep tellIng him the same thing if it worked the first time. If it didn’t work, you tell him a close version until you hit on the version he likes best. Acknowledge where he is mentally and agree and distract. Tomorrow is when you are going, every time.

2)Two hours might be too long a visit for him. Try cutting it by 15 min. See if it goes better.

3) See if saying you are going to work will help. “Got to run dad..almost late for work.” Try different things like this to see what is easiest to accept. what he can relate to.

4) And stop trying to convince him of anything. He Believes his own reality. You are the one that will have to adjust. He has lost that capability for the most part.

It is very sad and I hate it for you. You sound like a wonderful daughter and he must have been a wonderful dad..
”I wish my dad could trust me, be content, and accept that he needs this.” Not going to happen. It’s not that he doesn’t trust you. He has slipped away from the reality that you know. He’s on a different plane now. It isn’t about you for him. How can he accept living where he is, he is ‘not at home in this world anymore’.

When you get to your car after visiting him, take a moment to rate how it went if you decide to try something different.
See if you can tell if it is easier for him and easier for you. Let us know what works for you. We learn from one another.
Big Hugs.
Helpful Answer (5)
disgustedtoo Sep 2020
Pretty much what I would have suggested. Too often people don't realize where "home" is for the LO. Could be the last one, the first one, one somewhere between!

After moving mom to MC, she would hound my YB when he visited about going back to her condo. Not sure, but I think deferring the actual move to my brothers (did all the up front work and planning, but stayed out of the move and stayed away for about 2 weeks, as suggested by staff) worked to my advantage. She NEVER asked me to bring her back to her condo!

That went on for about 9 months. Out of the blue, during a visit, she asked me to drop her off at her mother's on my way home. You have to be able to react quickly to these changes/requests! I glanced at my watch, said it was a little late in the day and not on my way home, maybe tomorrow. She bought that and said Okay. Immediately she asked if I had a key to the place in X (the town her previous house was in) and specified the address! So, I knew she had made the step down to the next plateau.

Various comments from her allow me to peg her "life" as being at least 40 years ago (asking about her mother and comments about her younger sister and caring for the sister's disabled grandchild - both a little over 40 years ago!)

So, try various ways to make your exit and reuse those that work. Have to go to work. Have an appointment. Have to use the ladies room. Always use a vague time frame, like tomorrow, another day, soon, in a while, etc. Although some say use the truth, there is no real truth in dementia. The fibs we use are only to give them hope rather than slamming the door in their face. WE know it won't happen, but if it assuages their desires and concerns, even for a little while, there's no harm in it.
The answer isn’t the easy answer, you will have to get usta to this pattern he is doing. Dump the pain, guilt because it’s not worth it. Mentally it’s never easy to witness the slow march to death. This is why so many elderly People don’t have visitors.

you can change it little but he wouldn’t. Don’t correct him. Make your exits quick, hug kiss see yeah later, gone. Cry in car if you must, you will get over it or usta it. (Sorry)

more then likely he wouldn’t remember, because his brain is telling him he has a train, plane, bus to get on to get home and it has zero to do with you. enjoy the time you have left before it gets worst.

story time: my great grandmother didn’t remember anyone, it hurt my grandmother a lot, but since I look just like my grandmother, great grandmother brain thought I was her child, She would tell me stories ( her version) of what my grandma (me lol) did as a small child. She would cry when we left. Great grandmother also always tried to give me candy (she wasn’t allowed to keep candy because she would eat it all) so my grandma always had candy in her purse to hand to her.
Helpful Answer (4)

That sounds difficult. I'm sure different than my experience, but let me share mine for what it's worth. Dad had lived in a senior center for several years. When he started to decline they suggested hospice in the same facility, but a move to a new apartment; a different wing with more care. So, when he was failing, he made a big move; his last move. The building was in lockdown, but the staff decided that at end of life, restrictions were lifted. The staff was smart and gracious. Anyway, a day after moving to his new apartment dad told me about how odd it was that the furniture looked exactly the same as what he had in his apartment. At first I didn't understand, but eventually I came to realize that he thought he was visiting my house in Florida and that he was visiting me there. He was proud to be visiting my house, proud of me and my accomplishment. It felt nice, but odd since I never owned a house in Florida. Later that night, he told me that it was time to go home. That 'your mother' must be waiting for him to return. But mother passed in 1989. I asked the staff to put him to bed as I left with tears in my eyes. It was hard to leave him that night. Maybe it's similar to your feeling when your father mentions home. It's not easy. But, that home is gone. You know it, but he's forgotten. I thought about telling him that it's not my house, that it's his apartment. But I didn't have the heart. So, I lived in Florida with dad. In a house he invented. I enjoyed his vision. And I relied on the staff to help me return to my real home. The next day, he didn't mention Florida or visiting my home. He probably forgot about all that. But, I never will. It was sad and it was beautiful. Take what you can.
Helpful Answer (4)

I am not qualified to speak about dementia. Others on this site have been in your shoes.

Hang around for suggestions from others. Best wishes to you and your family.
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