Dementia and wanting to 'go home' 

Touch is our first language and one of our core needs

Hold their hand and tell them try not to worry - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

How many times have you heard someone with dementia say 'I want to go home'?

It has to be one of the most common things that’s repeated many times by those with dementia when most of the time they are quite clearly still at home and have lived there for a very long time.

And yet they still say it with that quizzical look in their eyes and a feeling of confusion. Those who are placed in care homes also say it, even when they have lived there for quite a while so the saying applies in many situations, but what does it mean?

As a person living with dementia and somebody who says the same thing - I am told by my wife - when I am 'sundowning' - an explanation about this will come later.

It’s something that’s puzzled me for a while and for what it’s worth, in my humble opinion, this is what I think it means.

So when I say I want to go home, does this mean my birth town of Bolton in Lancashire?

Well, as much I am so very proud of my Northern roots, and rightly so, I fell in love with Torquay the moment I arrived here over 25 years ago and may I say wild horses would not get me back up north, I really do believe Torquay is the best place in the world to live, so no, it’s not that.

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Do I mean my spiritual home?

Well, I am a Roman Catholic but a much-lapsed one and sorry to say I lost my faith years ago because of world and personal events.

So, what do I mean when I look at my long-suffering wife and say I want to go home?

After much discussion with my wife, who was a carer for more than 30 years before she had to stop to look after me, we have come to this conclusion - 'home' is a place of safety, home is a place of reassurance and home is a peaceful place with no worries, no confusion and no troubles.

When I ask to 'go home', Elaine always tells me all will be OK, holds my hand, reassures me that I am safe and makes me feel that all will be OK.

I have always believed that no matter how poorly you are with dementia, no matter at what stages of it you are in with dementia, somewhere, deep down you know you are really ill, you know something is very, very wrong and you know there is no cure.

The worry of all that can become all too much at time, but can’t it for us all?

Doesn’t each one of us at some point feel like this, don’t we all need reassuring at times and be told that all will be OK, not to worry, or at least try not to.

You see, people with dementia really are no different to anybody else, we really are all the same, and because some put us into that 'box' this is what feeds the stigma around it.

Now I am not saying this is the correct explanation, and it is as I said, just my humble opinion, but it’s got to be worth a shot, don’t you think?

Because even if I am wrong, what harm can it do to reassure those with dementia, hold their hand and tell them try not to worry and they are loved so much by family and friends.

I am sure it won’t do any harm and can only help them all.