We are four weeks into J’s stay in the personal care part of a continuing care community. She has adjusted remarkably well. In fact, when I accompanied her into the main building after going out for dinner on Wednesday night, she didn’t want me to take her back to her room because she wanted to go into the first-floor parlor and watch a movie with her new friends.
Still, she has said more than once that she wants to go home, or that she wants to go back to her street. What does that mean?
In all the reading I’ve done, and in talking with her Alzheimer’s doctor, the social worker in my lawyer’s office, the staff people at the CCC and others who have placed their loved ones at a continuing care community, people with Alzheimer’s who move to CCCs often ask to go home. That doesn’t literally mean that they want to go to a specific place. It generally means they want reassurance. Below is a sampling of articles about the request to go home and suggested responses.
So how have I responded to J when she asks about home? I kick the can down the road. I change the subject. Or I say something vague about not going there now.
I remember that J’s brain doesn’t function like ours and that logic doesn’t work. Most of all, I know that if I told her that the CCC is her home or that she is not going back to our house, it would cause pain. She would forget and it would cause pain again the next time I told her. And again. And again.
Our daughter, L, and I visited this afternoon. At 4 pm, there was a musical performance. Once again, J left us without looking back. Earlier on the phone with her brother, J said, “I love you.” She then gestured broadly towards me and L and said, “And these two, too. Because they are here.”