Have you experienced a situation in which your loved one with dementia has entered a new place or has had enough of being out and wants to go home? This is quite common for persons living with dementia as they seek familiarity and want the comfort of their own homes. However, we know that socialization and engaging in the community can help to improve quality of life and reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation. So, how can you better support your loved one who wants to go home?
1. Make the space welcoming and stay together
If you notice signs of agitation and discomfort, stay with your loved one with dementia and ensure they feel comfortable in the space. Offer your loved one with dementia something, a beverage or snack or item that will help them remain calm and comfortable. Perhaps if you are meeting people, include everyone in the conversation and keep conversations light and enjoyable for all individuals.
2. Engage in conversation or an activity
Spot new things around the room and have a conversation about them, this does not have to be complex and can include things like the weather, artwork, or items in the room. Discuss topics that are unrelated to your home and try your best to enjoy the moment. Storytelling is a great way to start conversations. You can simply discuss an event that happened recently or a funny story. Humour will help to lighten the mood. You can also engage in a short activity together, bringing a Marlena Book along with you is always a great idea to provide them with an activity they can do with you or independently.
3. Reduce discussions about time
If your loved one with dementia is asking to leave, show them the time and share that the time has not come yet for them to leave if it has not. Reduce conversations about time, unless asked, this will only contribute to feelings of agitation and keep them looking at the clock.
If your loved one with dementia continues to discuss leaving, redirect the conversation. List tasks that have to be completed before going home or bring up different topics that you know will spark conversation. Involve them in the tasks that need to be completed and this will offer them a sense of purpose and meaningful engagement.
5. Reduce noise and overstimulation
Sometimes a new place can be quite overwhelming, regardless of a dementia diagnosis. Find a quiet space and take some time to relax without noise or stimulation. Participate in breathing exercises or calming movements to reduce agitation and frustration. Have a quiet conversation and ensure their comfort.
6. Listen to your loved one
If these strategies are not working and your loved one becomes upset, it is important to keep your loved one at the forefront of their care and listen to them. If they are very uncomfortable, still agitated, and no longer want to be out in the community, quickly finish the necessary tasks and bring them back home. Be flexible and adapt when necessary. Ask them what they would like to do instead once they arrive home.
What are some ways that you ensure your loved one is comfortable in public settings? Share with us in the comments below.