Those with Alzheimer’s Dementia often Yearn for Childhood Home

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Yearn for Childhood Home

When my mom first began to ask “to go home,” I assumed she meant her “own” home. I thought she meant the home where she’d lived for many years before coming to live with my family. It took awhile to figure out I was wrong.

She didn’t remember the house that she’d lived in for 30 years before she came to live with us.

Almost everyday for weeks and weeks, Mom would politely inform me that ‘she had enjoyed her visit but she was ready to go home so when could I take her?’

She would take her stand with feet planted, arms crossed and a packed tote-bag squatting on the floor beside her.  When she said she wanted to go home, she meant right now!

At that time, I was confused. She barely remembered where she had lived before coming to live with us. When she did speak of her former home, she couldn’t remember if it had been a house, an apartment or an assisted living facility. Yet, she wanted to go there—to a place that no longer lingered in her memory and neighbors whose names were no longer familiar. It did not make sense to me.

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More excruciating was that this yearning to go home began just as Mom began to have sundowners symptoms.  Many nights I would wake to find her sobbing loudly as she sat on the side of the bed. Inconsolable with grief, she would cry to go home.

So many things are upside down when you’re dealing with Alzheimer’s Dementia.

  • I’m thinking from short term memory, “what upset her today, what did I do wrong, how can I fix it?”
  • Mom is thinking from long term memory. She has no memories of today, or yesterday or the day before. The memories Mom is recollecting happened before I was even born.

Did I say it’s confusing? It’s confusing for me and I understand what’s happening. I know Mom is on a road that only goes backwards. I can’t even imagine what my Mom must be thinking.

Mom cries and sobs and speaks of her own Mother and Father, she remembers a brother lost-at-sea more than 50 years ago. Though she has no memory of my dad, her husband of 40 years—she remembers each sweet face of her 8 siblings. She does not know that they have all passed away except one remaining brother, 4 years older than her and with a full memory. He calls her every week, yet she forgets his calls as soon as the phone is cradled. She only knows that she wants to go home—go home and see them all.

I can not console her. Her heart is broken. All I can do is put my arms around her and hug her, offer love and comfort and get her thoughts onto something else.  Below are a few good friends that she remembers very well.

Thank goodness this night is almost over, I remind myself, because tomorrow she will forget this too.

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