Home is where the heart is and for those who have lived in the same place for any length of time, you fast become attached to more than the bricks and mortar that hold up its walls. It is our own feelings of safety and security that a home instills that causes us concern when looking at the possibility of changing living settings for those we care for.
Many times as caregivers, we have the daunting task of making the decision to move someone from their home to a place that is more suitable for their care needs. This decision is not an easy one and is usually made due to medical or safety issues, such as if there was a fire Mom would not be able to vacate the house on her own or call 911. Caregivers also make this decision due personal stress or to enhance the social quality of life for their loved one.
This decision and the feeling it invokes in both the caregiver and the care receiver can cause a lot of stress and discomfort. However, it is important that caregivers realize that these feelings are natural and should be allowed to be explored rather than pushed aside.
For instance if your loved one is lamenting, “this place doesn’t feel like home,” ask them if there are specific things that they miss about home. You may find that you can make adaptations to your surroundings to make them feel more comfortable.
It takes time for people to feel comfortable in new surroundings, especially for those with memory loss issues. Many times, caregivers will become frustrated or concerned that their loved one “always wants to go home.” They feel they are denying them their right to be at home.
However, many times the “home” they are referring to is not the home they just left, but a home from far back in their life such as their childhood home. A place they remember being safely surrounded by their parents and siblings.
In this case, a better approach would be to ask them questions or show them pictures of their home. Enter into their world or reality and help them tap into those memories. Bring them to life as if they were today.
The summer months seem to be filled with family activities, Father’s Day, Fourth of July picnics and reunions of every sort. If you can take your loved one to parts of these activities and help them reconnect with their “home.” If this is not possible, talk with your fellow family members and ask them to share stories or pictures of what your loved one’s homes looked like, floor plans, special traditions or other memories made at home.
Remember it isn’t so much the place, but the feelings of love and security that home invokes that are important Often we forget that home really is where the heart is and your heart goes with you no matter where you go!