One of the most difficult things you can hear from a parent is: “I want to go home.”
It’s difficult in any circumstance, but especially if they are already at home. How do you respond? What do you do?
First, understand the reasoning behind their request. They aren’t asking to go home as much as they are looking for comfort. Fear and anxiety are bubbling up, and they aren’t sure what to do. They want the familiar. Asking to go home is a way of returning to what they know.
What can you do? Don’t get discouraged. This might be something you deal with over and over again. Having a few responses at hand should help you through it quickly.
1. Provide comfort
If you keep in mind that what your parent really wants is comfort, it can make your response easier. Realize they are anxious or scared. Reassure them. Use a calm voice to talk to them rather than letting your speech elevate. Sit down and put your arm around them or give them a hug. Try a comfy blanket, or even a stuffed animal or therapy doll. Sometimes a gentle touch is all it will take.
2. Avoid explanations
As an adult child, your natural tendency will be to react to their questions or statement. But an answer of “You’re already home” will only make her more agitated. You can’t reason with them because that level of conversation no longer works.
3. Redirect actions
A hug is a good first step. Then move to something they like to do instead. If they’re pacing; pace with them. Then direct them to the kitchen to help make a cup of tea to enjoy together. If they’re able to walk outside, try taking a walk around the neighborhood and point out new things in your environment. Flowers in bloom or a butterfly flying by can be great distractions.
You can also use questions to help her move to a different place and time.
“What do you like best about home?”
“What’s your favorite room?”
“What do you like to do when you’re at home?”
This gives her the chance to focus on things they like. And hopefully, push her fears and insecurities by the wayside.