24 Aug I Want to Go Home
At our Dementia Together support groups, classes, and workshops, we share strategies based on the SPECAL® Method, a simple, family-driven approach rooted in person-centered care. This method employs tools and mantras that take into account the dementia and work positively with it to sustain lifelong well-being. One of our SPECAL mantras is “Feelings are more important than facts.” Using the SPECAL Photograph Album as a tool to show how feelings store for everyone, but facts increasingly fail to store efficiently with dementia, it becomes clear that feelings naturally become more important than “actual factual” details as dementia progresses.
Our response to “I want to go home,” changes when we understand that home is a feeling . Questioning, “which home do you mean?” or insisting, “you ARE home,” or “THIS is your home now” disregards what I’m experiencing if I’m telling you, “I want to go home.” Questions and contradictions are not helpful if I’m not feeling at home regardless of my location. When I think of home, I think of safety, security, love, laughter, my family, my pets, being able to make my coffee, turn on the TV, read a book, or find a snack any time I want. Home is where everything makes sense. And THIS is the SPECAL definition of home–where everything makes sense. I want to be where everything makes sense. I want to be where people around me are helping me make sense of what’s happening in my life. At the very least, I want to be where someone is wondering with me when it doesn’t make sense. I always want to be where I feel at home.
It follows then, when someone says to me, “I want to go home,” perhaps my best response aligns with another SPECAL mantra, “Join the club.” Almost everything is better when we have a companion joining us. We aren’t meant to do life alone. When any person living with dementia says, “I want to go home,” I know it’s not feeling like home and I can respond with all authenticity, “I want to go home too.” And together we can figure out ways to feel at home, no matter where we are.
–Cyndy Luzinski, MS, RN, SPECAL® Practitioner
Executive Director, Dementia Together
Pictures and Quotes from: Mackesy, Charlie. The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse New York, NY: HarperOne, 2019.