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Always Going Home

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Old 12-18-2011, 04:03 PM   #1
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Always Going Home

My husband 78 is in an assisted living facility and calls frequently to pick him up to take him home. Due to circumstances re violence to me, I'm not able to, but he keeps his clothes packed and ready, sometimes packing dirty clothes with clean. I'm learning about 'empathy' and 'validation' and need some way to tell him, he needs to keep his clothes where they want them so he can have clean clothes to wear instead of them having to wash more than needed. If someone can give me some hints so I can communicate better with him, I'd apppreciate it. Thanks

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Old 12-18-2011, 07:31 PM   #2
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Re: Always Going Home

That is not an easy task... to get them to understand that what they are doing is not helpful. They are confused and want to be somewhere different. Even if you could explain so that he understood it would slip right away as most current memories do. He doesn't know the difference between clean and dirty clothes. My Mom did this to an extreme. At least he's not packing the ice cream in the suit case Having said this, you find ways to let him satisfy his needs (to be ready to escape) while making it easier on you and the staff. If his dirty clothes were put in a place where he did not have access to them then he could not pack them with his clean clothes. Could the staff remove them when he changes and put them in a basket or laundry bag in another room? Then it would make no difference if he packed his clothes or not because they would all be clean.

As for explaining to him that he needs to stay there, it's probably not going to happen. You can validate his need to be somewhere else and divert the time into the future but you can not reason with him and he will not remember. If it is only packing occasionally and verbalization then you can just validate, divert, and distract.... over and over and over. He has no idea that you are using the same technique over and over just as he doesn't know he is asking the same question over and over. If his desires are accompanied with anxiety, angst, or distress... then he may need medication to calm his anxiety. But even with the medication they questions remain.

Mom packed hours every day even moving furniture out of her room and throwing her belongings over the courtyard fence. Any attempt to divert her was met with resistance, anger, and combativeness. She was an emotional mess, crying and combative. She did spend 10 days in a Senior Behavior Med Unit and is now on a cocktail of anti psychotics and anti depressants. She is for the most part content and smiles often now... but she still ask, years later, about going home.

If we are not where we want to be, if we are in a place that is confusing to us, we want to go where we think we want to be. Since the confusion is in their minds then a move is truly not the answer but you can't make them believe that. They know what they know, in the moment, and it is just as real to them as our reality is to us. They want to be somewhere other than where they are... and that doesn't change. We can only find a way to make them content most of the time. So don't worry too much about finding 50 ways to say the same thing... just keep saying it as you have been. If you see emotional distress then get him help

Love, deb

Old 12-19-2011, 09:18 AM   #3
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Re: Always Going Home


Like what Deb said, no way the person with dementia will understand what is going on. Explanation will not help. What we did with my father-in-law who has severe stage of Alzheimer's was that we tried to be tricky. Take away his money/check books without telling him why because he thought the blank checks are "cash". Trying to tell him he does not work with my husband failed too. My FIL insists on his way. If he wants to teach, we just have to say Ok we will help him to teach and he will forget about it soon later.
It also depends on the memory loss. If your husband still remembers what he asks for, it is more difficult to distract him.
Ask the caregiver to move away his dirty clothes. However, this is AL so I think he still has "control" of it. My FIL is in a locked unit for memory impaired so the housekeeper just takes away the dirty clothes and gives back clean clothes.

Perhaps you can try to tell him the home is not ready so he cannot come home. Ask the caregiver to put away the dirty clothes and etc. Hire a part-time caregiver to be with him. In a locked unit, my FIL has enough caregivers but he still has one-on-one caregivers 4 hours per week to make him feel that he has companion.

As your husband gets sicker, he won't remember or learn to do things correctly. So you may need to enlist someone's help to take care of this thing.
One time my FIL put some books away in the old briefcase and stood at the door saying my husband will pick him up to be with him and "work" with him. The caregiver just waited with him and later on he would forget about it (he would forget it in the next day or the evening.) He would say he belonged with my husband and etc. No way the caregiver could argue with him about it. We didn't want him to wander out, so the caregiver just let him be. Later he would come back to his couch and forget about it.

It is hard indeed when your husband still asks for this kind of thing without understanding. I am sorry he got violent on you.
Maybe you can ask the doctor to give him some med to relax his nerves.


Old 12-19-2011, 01:33 PM   #4
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Re: Always Going Home

so sorry to hear about your problem. dementia paitents cant rationalize. talk to the nurses and see what they can do. most important take care of yourself. this is a horrible disease and we have to take it day by day. keep venting these boards are wonderful.

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