“There’s no place like home” ~ Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz
With Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia, many patients get confused towards the end of the day and want to go home. It’s not necessarily to the last home they inhabited, but to their childhood home, even though they seem to mix them up in their minds. Many times during a sundowners episode, my Aunt will want to ‘go home’ to her childhood home, believing that she needs to feed her Mama and take care of her siblings even though most of them have passed away. She was a caregiver until the disease took her mind so I believe because the role is so ingrained in her, she returns to that role time and time again. Then again, many times she believes she is home in the place where she now resides. It is confusing to us all how her mind works and reworks reality as time goes on.
When it is explained with kindness that most of her family have passed away, she is saddened by the news, explaining that ‘she didn’t know,’ even though she has been repeatedly told this information. Many times distraction helps to alleviate her need to ‘go home’ without having to sadden her unnecessarily about her loved ones being already passed away even though she was present during that time in her life when it happened. Intentionally we use distraction instead of reality in order to ease her mind and worry. Living in her present is more beneficial to her than repeatedly hurting her with sad news that will not stay in her head.
Weather, barometric pressure changes and moon phases all play a part in the severity of sundowners. Loved ones with sundowners get agitated easily at dusk and the need to go with the flow of their thinking is crucial. Lucky for us, my Aunt has a mouth full of ‘sweet teeth’ so chocolate kisses help immensely when she’s not in the mood to put on her pjs or go to bed. A few delectable chocolate kisses on a pillow make for sweet dreams and a calmer patient when she’s irritable. Patience is key as well since rushing a patient simply doesn’t serve the situation since we are on ‘their time’ and not our own.
Do you have a loved one with Alzheimer’s and Dementia? Do they confuse home as well? Do they return to their long-term childhood memories easier than the short-term of the last 10+ years?
For me, home is where the heart is and I wish yours to be safe, happy and filled with love.
*Photo Credit from PrettyCleverFilms