What do we say or do when a parent keeps packing to go home when they are already at home, without upsetting her?

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Parents are still living at home but she keeps thinking they are at the cottage that they used to go to, and that she needs to get home to her responsibilities. This used to happen occasionally and I could sometimes distract her with gardening which she loves. She's been packing more and more and we unpack when she's not paying attention. I cannot distract her and she talks as though getting home is urgent. If we do try to tell her she's already home she gets very confused and quiet.
She is physically quite healthy and is not taking any serious medications - vitamins and low dose aspirin.

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You are already trying to redirect. That is good. And you are getting very good advice here about trying to get into her world and going along with her. I suggest that if you can determine or guess at what she really needs that would help. For example, she needs to go home to her responsibilities -- "remind" her that she has the day off because everyone has after work/school activities and won't be home until much later. Or in some way sooth her anxiety about not getting things done.

I wish I'd known at the beginning of my husband's dementia what I learned along the way. Here is how I (mis)handled things in the beginning and got them closer to right much later:

Early
Me: Honey, why are you standing by the door with your gym bag packed?
Him: I'm waiting for the train, so I can go home.
Me: You are home! This is not a train station. Look -- we bought this lamp together shortly after we were married. Here is a scrapbook with family pictures. See? This is our home!
Him: Yes. those are our things. I remember them. But I need to get this train to go home.

Much later in the disease, in the evening:
He walks through the kitchen carrying a paper bag.
Me: Where are you headed, dear?
Him (pointing to door to the garage): I'm going to get a train home.
Me (looking obviously at clock): Oh, I am so sorry, there are no more buses tonight.
Him (distressed): Oh! I am so tired! I just want to go to bed!
Me: Well you are in luck. I know of a nice warm clean place you can sleep tonight, and we'll check the bus schedule in the morning. You do seem very tired. Lean against this counter while I get your wheelchair.
Him (as I wheel him through our bedroom door): This is wonderful! It looks just like my room at home.
Me: I thought you might like it. Let me help you with your pajamas.

Of course, by morning he'd forgotten all about the bus.

If I'd known more about this in the beginning I wouldn't have argued about whether the house was a train station. I would have said something like "I've heard there was a bad storm in Montana and all trains are hours late. While we are waiting, let's have some hot tea and chocolate chip cookies, at the lunch counter." And then if he explained why he had to get the train I would have had something else to work with in satisfying his immediate need.
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CM Dementiaville are they taking reservations? Put my name down.
Jude, Jessie, Emjo,FF, Sharon , Hope, Jeanette anyone else coming? Book you are too young.
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Would it work to take her for a ride in the car complete with suitcase then arrive home and help her hang up the clothes and repeat as necessary. maybe combine these trips with errands.
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Perhaps you could leave one suitcase packed and ready to go, and then apply delaying tactics - e.g. "we just have to wait until X is home, then if it's not raining we'll set off after supper" - until her urge to leave passes?

You may be interested in a programme called "Dementiaville" which was broadcast last week on Channel 4 in the UK - you might be able to find it online - which focused on being in the person's reality. It struck me as being a refinement of distraction, in that you go towards where the person is - in your mother's case, needing to get home - and stay with them there so that you can lead them back to reality in a way that makes sense within their context. Sorry, I've explained that rather badly - do see if you can find the programme, it was very interesting.
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I was going to state, that this is exactly what my mother did around the 4th year of being diagnosed with Alzheimer's. She is now in her 10th year, and weighs 97, and the sweetest mother that I have ever known. Before she was angry, confused, embarrassed, it was just the way she was.

I would say, it is very tough for you, but trying to convince her, is really a lot of energy wasted on your time. Redirect her. What kind of health other than that is she in, is she wheelchair bound, or able to be by herself, meaning, could she take a shower, and both of you go out to the local bookstore, and so she is not in the house, that reminds her that she needs to pack?

Dementia or Alzheimer's this is a stage. Unfortunately, as most of us know, there are books on both of these horrible diseases, but every person goes through a few steps of this, all of it, or just sort of has a glassy eyed look and when you look in their eyes, just is not there.

I say, please be patient, really hold on to your friendships, and the people around you. Use Agingcare.com as a support system.

Go to local classes. There was one yesterday on that one topic "Memory" and wanting to pack and go and leave all the time when they are already home?

Please be prepared for the stage to change.

It sounds like other than that, your mother is in relatively good health.

The words "one day or one minute at a time, do not only relate to living with substance abuse"

Alzheimer and Dementia is unfair, and very little was known about it 30 years ago, they would just keep the parents at home, until they died.

Thank goodness our communities are out there, and people are making a difference to make it more educated for us that live with our loved ones that get this disease.

Love yourself, and love your friends, family and of course your mother.

D.
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Redirection can be very challenging and it takes a lot of energy and creativity to redirect someone.

You said your mom thinks she needs to go home because she feels she has a lot of responsibilities to tend to. At one time in her life I'm sure this was true. She may have had a husband to care for, maybe children to raise. A house to take care of.

When she starts to pack again can you have a task waiting for her? Some laundry to fold maybe or can she make a light snack (with supervision)? Maybe she can cut up a watermelon slice with a fork to eat or pour some Ensure into a glass? Can you rumple up a bed so that the bed needs to be made? Get creative.
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This is very common with dementia. Home could be any number of places in a persons long term memory. One way or the other you have to redirect her attention. Ask some questions about home. How old was she then etc. don't be afraid of using therapeutic fibs or whatever it takes to get her calm. Tell her what she wants to hear and keep bobbing and weaving.
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