My Mom says, "I just want to go home." Is she reverting to being a little girl or an adult who misses her old life?

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She lives in ALZ unit. She has no home since Dad died in Nov, 2013.

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Wonderful comments! "Home" often means safety and comfort - the ultimate love. As Pam said - a simpler time when someone older and bigger than us carried life's burdens (ideally). As Alzheimer's destroys areas of memory in the brain the person goes farther and farther back in time. This explains many people "flirting" with 20 somethings, and further on, what is happening here, wanting to go home to a place that no longer exists anywhere but in the person's mind.

Thanks to you all for your wisdom and support for the community.
Carol
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Very commonly they want to retreat to a childhood home. Look around here and you will find caregivers who took them back home only to find out they did not recognize their house at all and insisted on going home. The oldest memories hang on the longest, deeply embedded in a happier, simpler time. They forget about the Depression, WWII, TB, Polio, the A-bomb, etc. and cling to the vision of a happier childhood.
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I have a patient with dementia who has forgotten everything in her adult life. Yes, she knows she used to be a teacher and she can carry on a conversation on the surface but when asked if she used to plant flowers in HER yard she talks about her childhood home and talks about her mother planting flowers. When asked if she's owned any pets recently she talks about the dogs she had as a child (she had a cat until recently). When asked to describe what she liked to do when she came home from work as a teacher she is unable to answer and goes back to talking about her childhood home. It's like her entire adult life never happened.

I think wanting to go "home" is more of a feeling than it is wanting to see an actual house.
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Life is a cycle. The ending stage is a return to childhood. It's the metaphor we see in the Brad Pitt movie, Benjamin Buttons. The end is return home to the source, whatever you believe that is. While some of it is sad to us in the middle of life, I took some joy in seeing my aunt at the end sneaking potato chips and chocolate she wasn't supposed to have. I enjoy seeing the look on my mom's face when I get her talking about her childhood adventures. I suspect she's "forgotten" about some of the hard things she went through in her life. Good for her, this is her time to be peaceful and enjoy what she can of life.
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We moved with my mum eight years ago so we could live in the same house and I could take care of her although at that time her health problems were mobility-related rather than concerned with dementia. However, within a couple of years of being in this house she was beginning to show early onset of dementia and within another couple of years, this had taken hold and she began to sit on the sofa getting her handbag 'ready to go home' - she continues to do this, pushing lots of irrelevant objects into the bag, including 'food for the journey', and constantly saying she's ready to go home and wants to do so. I have realised that with increasing dementia her short term memory is shot and the only memories that she has of feeling safe are those in the long term memory that relate to her last house where she spent 25 years of her later married life. I initially tried to deal with this by showing her photographs of her old house, of her and other family members in the garden, or inside the house. That worked for a while but now it only irritates her even more as she really wants to get back to that situation - I find the memories are of the last time when she was OK before the onset of dementia, rather than of when she was a little girl, although one thing that has become noticeable is that when she is sundowning, she really does revert to a childhood state, and calls me 'mother' or by the name of one of her older or younger sisters (both dead now so I can't even bring them to her). So, now when she says she wants to 'go home' I just try to calm her, saying 'don't worry we're here, everything's OK' - heaven knows what she makes of this, I have no answers.
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Yes, it is very common. My 63-yr-old cousin with Alzheimer's has reverted to acting out when she is upset, i.e. defecating where she knows she shouldn't, carrying around her teddy bear, asking when her mom and dad are coming to pick her up. My 88-yr-old mother does not have dementia, but she has begun to project all the traits of my late father onto my brother who is her primary caregiver since my dad died 8 yrs ago. In fact, she has referred to him as Dad a number of times while talking to me. If I say something about it, she'll say, oh, I mean Mike. It's just easier for her to revert back to a time when she was more comfortable in her routine, knew what to expect and felt in control of her life. After all, they were married 58 years and it's largely what she recalls. Although she remembers some things about her childhood, she doesn't stay there very long in her mind, because it wasn't an altogether happy time for her.

I can understand the desire to go back to a simpler time when things were better, especially when you're at the end of your productive years and you have pain almost daily. You don't feel useful or needed anymore - despite what loved ones might tell you - and you are living in a foreign world where technology has long passed you by and you can't relate to much of what people talk about anymore, especially younger people. I'm not ready to be nonproductive yet, but having experienced age discrimination in the workplace for a number of years now, I can actually empathize with the desire to just say, forget it, the world can go on without me, and I'm going to create my own happy world. It's a sad state of mind, but until our society starts doing a better job of outwardly valuing older people, we're going to see more and more of this, whether Alzheimer's is part of the picture or not.
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She often acts like she is waiting, waiting to be picked up, waiting to go home, like at a doctors office. In this stage of waiting she does not know if it is a few minutes or a few hours. Before too long, we get to making dinner, like cutting vegetables, etc.

Our 87 year old was recently hospitalized, for sinus infection/asthma and when we brought her home she thought we had kidnapped her and were holding her against her will (by product of the steroidal inhaled medication) she said she wanted to go back to Maplewood where she hasn't lived for almost three years.

The death of her spouse is a hard reality, she does not want to remember, our 87 year old feels sad/happy at pictures of her husband, recalls happy times and extreme sadness over his final months (RA and cancer) where she and her son cared for him.

She used to dance with him everyday(to records on the record player) before she would go to work, what a wonderful memory...

But in other things she hops to the table for breakfast, like a child, but still drinks coffee like an adult, has forgotten ages and birthdays of children, but not them yet...in a way I hope it never happens but the disease directs itself and all we can do is see what today brings.
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It's part of the end of life process. My mom started calling for her parents and siblings two years ago. She also frequently talked to her mom or imagined she changed her or had made a funeral dress for her. I think she was looking for more comfortable times while preparing herself for completing her journey.
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Yes to all of the above comments. A return to the past is common. My mother barely remembers the life of me and my siblings. She is much at home in her teens just before she was married to my dad and the condition of that life is very glamorized. She thinks the city she grew up in is as she left it. Even as I have shown her pictures of the city as it is now, she still thinks the old place is there somewhere to go back to.
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Wow. I actually think that is brilliant. Good for them.
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