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My dad lives with his wife in a house (her house) that he moved into 17 years ago when they were married. He began showing early signs of dementia since 2010. He has progressed to the point that he mixes up the fact that he thinks my mother is still alive and needs cared for and that he lives in his childhood town. He only knows that his wife is a person that cares for him, but not that she is his wife. She does not have any of his personal belongings out in the open other than pictures of the two of them, which confuses him. When sun-downers syndrome occurs he thinks it is time to go home. He gets frustrated that he can't just leave or that I won't take him home (or to church). He gets upset he doesn't have his keys or any money in his pockets. My dad is a fall risk. He has very little balance but doesn't remember he needs to use his walker, or he pushes it aside and doesn't think he needs it. After all, he doesn't realize he is 88 years old. He only began using the walker after a heart attack last year. He has fallen several times and gotten hurt but remarkably he heals very quickly.


What does anyone suggest my family says when he thinks it's time to go home. I try to distract him and change the subject but that is working less and less.


Thank you in advance for your suggestions.

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I know how uncomfortable that is. Your post reminds me of my dad. He had bad knees and couldn't walk well. He would walk around holding on the walls or furniture. Wouldn't even use a cane. Wasn't until assisted living he used his walker. (never thought it belonged to him tho) It had to be put right in front of his chair or he'd never use it. he would use it to go to BR and then leave it in BR.

my dad was a real booger at home. at the time, I REALLY didn't know how to handle him. Both my mom and dad ended up in assisted living.

My dad was still a booger in AL. They were both safe in AL, but I felt bad for my mom because she still had to deal with him. and she didn't know how to deal with him either(they both had dementia)

My dad would start in on some 'worry' about something. and want to get up and go take care of it. And you couldn't convince him otherwise. The only time  you could distract him was with a cookie or chocolate candy.

he did end up getting on an anti - psychotic meds. because he was combative towards the end. he passed in 2015 at almost 93.

My mom started having paranoia problems.(plus other behavior problems) and she saw a geriatric dr who prescribed an anti depressant. it helps even out her mood. so she's not so 'worried' and obsessive about things. She's almost 89.

if you take Dad to the dr. - write the dr ahead of time everything that he is doing. that way you don't have to talk about it in front of your dad. Cause it really hard to tattle on your parent ....in front of parent.
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trying42 Aug 24, 2018
lots of great suggestions Wally!
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‘Going home’ can mean anything from wanting safety to a childhood home.
I’ve been caring for my mom 7.5 years and the ‘going home’ comes and goes. Your dad may need a light balance of meds; the primary care doc might not be enough. I found a psychiatrist or neurologist can reduce the anxiety and he can still keep his energy. Crucial for home care.
Reading your post there is another huge concern; your mom! How is she doing? Is she close in age to your dad? I’m 20 years younger than my mom but her energy is through the roof! If your dad is active; and being an ‘exit seeker’ he has got to be wearing her out!! Does she get any support?
Mourn town has Council on Aging; it’s nationwide, but each has different offerings. Ours has dementia daycare!! It’s an affordable way to keep them occupied and active, social. In return; I can clean, run errands and clear my head.
please research what community support his wife needs. A tough statistic is 40% of caregivers pass before the person they are caring for. She needs help!! Please bless her and have a conversation with her. Bless you!
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cetude Aug 24, 2018
medications are not without risk. Especially with a history of falling, any kind of psychotropic or narcotic will increase risk of confusion and falling considerably.
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Hi ptshopper, we have experienced what you have in the last 2 years and are her caregivers in-home. Unfortunately we're at end stage now and have hospice to help out as of today. If distracting or diverting to another subject is no longer helping, I would suggest speaking with his psychiatrist or geriatrician for an anti-anxiety medication. Those with dementia have "triggers" that send them into that state. Especially if his memory is only long-term, he has a lot more anxiety than usual. I recommend speaking with his doctor or having his wife speak with the doctors to help with that type of anxiety. It was a struggle for us when Mom had manic episodes and was very confused but having the proper medications helped calm her which helped us to care for her better. It is trial and error and difficult to find a happy medium on the right dosage and the right medication. Hang in there! It is a journey. It is distressing to see because of course he's your parent but the best way to treat a lot of these symptoms of dementia, I've learned to detach myself emotionally so I can see it for what it is.
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Google what it means when they ask to go home. They are not meaning home as in a house or even heaven. As I understand it, it means they need security, maybe they are cold and need a blanket, maybe they are hurting and can’t express it. Try massage particularly bottom of feet. Look into essential oils.

Last year, My dad was asking to go home, forgetting his walker, falling and healing fast just like your dad. He passed away last month. He was my best friend and I would say to you, you can’t fix dementia but your dad is receiving everything you are giving him especially love. Massaging him regularly soothes him and you too. Cherish the time with him.
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Distract and redirect, but I know it isn't that easy.
Mom's away visiting her family, (or they tented the house for termites, or they're painting, or laying new carpets or....)we'll go back when she gets home.
I heard there was a big accident that closed the highway, we can't go until it reopens. Let's have some supper while we wait.
I think it would be OK if we watched church on TV or online for today, I'll try and take you next time.
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It sounds like you're doing the best you can when he gets upset and wants to go home and is confused about things. It's very frustrating when they won't use their walkers, but, it's really a matter of being with him at all times to insist that he use it. It just doesn't occur to them to use it. Eventually, my LO went to the wheelchair.

I agree about discussing his anxiety with his doctor. Often the dementia causes anxiety that can be very distressful for them mentally. A daily medication for anxiety/depression, really helped her a lot. It didn't make her drowsy at all. There are some meds that do that, but, I would discuss it with his doctor to see what might be best for him.

I've read that some people continue to ask about leaving to return home, but, most of those that I know do stop at some point. If his wife is the primary caregiver, I'd suggest that she get some help. It's very stressful to do that around the clock for a family member.
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disgustedtoo Aug 25, 2018
Mom gets Lorazepam (for anxiety), but a VERY mild dose and ONLY when she has sun-downing that they cannot redirect or refocus her out of. Generally she is easy to redirect, but once in a while -yeaosah! She does NOT get this every day. Doc was hesitant first because:
* it can mask UTI (reason why we needed the Rx along with antibiotic)
NO doc, we are not using this daily, only AS NEEDED!
* it can make one more inclined to fall
NO doc, but I was more concerned about her getting hurt while ranting and raving, herself or someone else!

It is a med that will work pretty much right away (not 2 weeks from now) if it is going to work. Generally the issue is at night if it happens, and usually within 30-45 m she is ok, and then shortly after goes to bed. She started using the walker months after asking for it, but uses it most of the time now.

You will have to monitor your dad after he gets a dose, since he forgets to use or dismisses the walker. Since there is a fall risk with these meds, you would want to watch over him after he gets his!
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This is a terrible disease and I too find it hard sometimes to accept that this wonderful man who for 95 years was my rock... is slipping away from me. My dad also sometimes lives ( in his mind) in his childhood town and when we visit that town his remembers all the names of his neighbors and recognizes their homes. But, he also forgets his walker and frets over not having any money in his wallet or understand why he cannot drive my car.
The biggest problem we came across was his 'frisky' behavior and preoccupation with sex. It actually got him kicked out of his assisted living situation. The doctor put him on birth control pills to help lower his testosterone. It seems to be working so far. He still looks at women differently than he looks at men but he does not ask for 'favors' any longer. Fingers crossed.
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Zdarov Aug 24, 2018
Aw, bless him. Yes, fingers crossed on the new med, sad!
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Although I haven't tried this, some friends have had success driving their LO around the block when he said he wanted to go home when sundowning. Just the act of moving and going somewhere was enough to convince him he had changed his situation. Not sure it works in all situations, but it's worth a try.
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Emmdee Aug 26, 2018
Driving around certainly helps my husband! The only problem is that 50/50 he finds it difficult to get in the car! Needs lots of directions, and there is no physical help I can give! So I am wondering what I can do when he fails completely....... However, in the meantime - we go driving around the hills and valleys and coastlines near where we live in Bristol Uk - and we both get a lot out of it. We have reluctantly stopped visiting the Welsh castles etc because he finds the uneven walkways too difficult - but certainly getting out and about, even if he doesnt get out of the car, is helpful!!!! Love to all of you!!
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So sorry your dad is so upset.

I would often put my mom in the car and drive slowly around the block. Then she was home. My dad had to have his wallet. A man has to have his wallet. I put $2 in it in a $1000000 bill a couple of old business cards he had and a copy of an article written about him when he retired at 91. He was happy then

My mom loved one of the photo frames that would automatically play a slideshow of photos that I chose. She would watch it over, and over, and over, and over, and over. And the photos are pretty easy to change out too.

Redirection is the best answer. Mirror them. Get down on their level face to face. Hold his hand.
If he says - 'why can't I go home'? you say 'why can't you go home'? Dad, do you remember the big porch on the front of the porch? (Or the chickens in the backyard, or the swing off the tree, or some nice or funny memory). Usually remembering the nice memory does not bring back the 'I want to go home'; it can lead to a discussion of comfort for him. He wants to know he's being heard, and you're repeating his questions helps him know that.

There's a term - Hiraeth, that fit my mother. I think it fits many of these souls looking for their past, and lost in their future:

"Hiraeth: home sickness for a home to which you cannot return, or for home which may have never been; an intense form of longing or nostalgia, wistfulness; the grief for the lost places of your past.

I hope things get better for you all.
Read "The 36-Hour Day", it is very helpful.
Or everything (books, lectures, videos☆) by Teepa Snow. Brilliant woman on dementia/Alzheimer's.
Good luck.
dejawog
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ptshopper Aug 27, 2018
Thank you.
A very good idea to read Teepa Snow's book. I know of her. I'll get the book.

I tried the slideshow photo frame years ago, but his wife eventually put it away.
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a person with later stages of Alzheimer's tends to wander because their mind goes back to childhood and they are trying to go home where they used to live in the past. Their long-term memory tends to be more in focus than short-term.
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Emmdee Aug 26, 2018
This does not apply to all Alzheimers people!
My husband (diagnosed in 2011) does not relate to his childhood as you describe, he does not seem to remember his childhood at all!
How I wish people would not give advice which is flawed.
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