Going home - how to respond?


Registered User
Oct 25, 2006
Hi, my Mum saw a consultant nearly 3 months ago where she was diagnosed with depression, not Alzheimer's and prescribed anti-depressants. Since that time she has deteriorated considerably and her behaviour is increasingly bizarre. Every night without fail she asks my Dad when she is going home and doesn't believe him when he says she is home. She asks "does this place have a toilet?" and has to be shown where it is. She was amazed when Dad came in from the kitchen with a cup of coffee and asked where he'd got it from, when he said the kitchen, she was surprised that "this place" had one and had to be shown it. Her response was "very nice, do they let you use this then?"

My Dad has just rung me terribly upset because Mum has just accused him of selling her home and buying another one, then fitting it out to look identical, but she's onto him and he's not fooling her. He told her it's her home and has her embroideries on the wall. Her response was that if they were on the wall here there would have to be a court case as no-one should take her things from her house.

He is finding it difficult to respond to her requests to go home every day. The other day he changed tack and said they'd be going home tomorrow at which she flew into a terrible rage and accused him of making arrangements behind her back and not consulting her.

Clearly this is not depression and we are waiting for another appointment for her to see the consultant. In the meantime does anyone here have any experience of how to handle this to cause least distress (both to my Mum and my Dad) The deterioration in her condition seems shockingly rapid. The only medication she has are her anti-depressants (which have stopped her having panic attacks but little else) and my Dad is coping with no support other than from his children (and we are at a loss as to how to help him) Poor Mum, she must be so confused and distressed and Poor Dad, having to deal with it and being the villain. But I guess many of you are in similar situations, so how would you respond?

Thank you in advance for any advice. Last time I posted people here were so kind and helpful. I'm sorry if this is a common problem and question - I tried to search but couldn't find anything.



Registered User
Jun 27, 2006
Hi Sue

You're obviously correct - this is definitely not (just) depression. The things you describe are very, very common - not recognising the familiar, not understanding that this is where they live, accusations etc. Sometimes, simply exiting through one door and coming back in through another will work, sometimes putting them off with words like "tomorrow" will work and sometimes changing the subject will work, but sadly sometimes none of those will work. The suddden deterioration may mean it's not AD but is a dementia that's vascular in origin, not that that helps at all. My mother had lived in her house for over 20 years, but after her strokes, could not find the toilet (or the stairs, or the kitchen).

Hopefully someone will be along with more coping strategies. My only thought is that you should be chasing up that appointment.



Registered User
Feb 22, 2006
sort of north east ish
hi Sue

sorry you're in this difficult situation. in some ways i think it probably is a common problem ....... though every situation is unique and there's absolutely no way you need to feel sorry about posting.

lots of people seem to have that horrid experience of not recognising their own home. and i know my dad, when i took several of his most prized possessions to be with him in his room at the nursing home, was convinced that they were duplicate sets of things and that he now had two of them all.

i think a lot of what happens, and the way it develops, is people trying to make sense of something that doesn't make sense anymore. if you're losing your memory, and don't understand that you're losing your memory, you have to make up something that makes sense of the gaps. at least, that's how it was explained to me when my dad (when he was newly in nursing home) was in tears because he thought my mother (dead for 10 years) had taken up with someone else who had taken over his house. if you don't remember that your wife has died, and you don't remember that you were no longer able to cope at home ...... how do you explain to yourself the fact that you are no longer living at home with your wife???

understanding this kind of thing might at least help your dad to deal with it. emphasising that it's not his fault that mum is so distressed will also be helpful of course. less easy re how to help your mum deal with it. I found it really hard with dad because all my instincts were to reason with him, be honest with him, try to talk to him about it. on the whole this didn't work. ended up "fobbing him off" a bit ... a lot..... just going along with what he said. i guess it depends how much your mum is able to deal with .............. everyone is different.

best wishes
and love to your dad



Registered User
May 14, 2006
Dear Susan,
I don't think there is an easy answer to this question, but I know how you feel. My Mum used to think that her house changed around at night and she had a different one. She also thought that we had put a family of boys in her spare bedroom and they were very noisy at night. She worried abut bothering them! We used to get phonecalls about what she should do with all the little dark men sitting on the lounge floor watching television.
When she became very distressed by her hallucinations, the GP arranged for a hospital doctor to visit her at home and she was prescribed Haliperidol and Citilopram which seemed to help her quite a lot. In the end she needed 24 hour care because of her Rheumatoid Arthritis, and she settled well in a Care Home, but is now in a Nursing Home after breaking her hip last year. She wants to go home, but is thinking of her childhood home with her Mum and Dad.


Registered User
Apr 30, 2006
Hi Sue
We used to have this problem with mum and its very distressing. For us, it seemed to work if we told mum that the decorators/builders/cleaners/were working in her house and we were just staying here(mums house) until they'd finished. That would settle her for a while.
Mum also used to find it strange that I was "allowed" to make a cup of tea in "this place" and was always concerned about who to pay for this.
I'd been accused of selling mums house and stealing her money etc but its the terrible confusion of the illness.
i think its a case of trial and error in how to cope with this . I found suggesting things to mum worked the best , rather than telling her "we''ll go home tomorrow". I found if I suggested "would you like to go and check the house tomorrow.....I'll take you there if you like" worked quite well!!!
Love xx


Registered User
May 10, 2006
When my mum used to ask to go home I used to walk her round the block, take her into the corner shop that she remembered as being near her home. Then take her back to the same house that we'd just left .....

This worked every time, in her mind she'd gone home...



Registered User
Oct 25, 2006
Thank you all so much for your suggestions. I will pass on your ideas to my Dad. I think the distraction idea might work best. When she was concerned that her embroideries had been "stolen" and hung up in "this place", she went into the hallway and came back saying "there, I told you they were all here, safe and sound", so I think in leaving the room her reality had slipped again.

She does get very bothered that she's come to "this place" in her slippers!

Poor Dad, I think he will just have to see what calms her down through trial and error.

Thanks very much again, it really helps to hear from people who have had similar experiences. Sadly, we are not alone.



Registered User
Jul 15, 2005
Hi Sue,
It is alot of trial and error I'm afraid. My Mom did the same things and my Dad was very frustrated trying to convince her that it was her home and later that he was her husband. Trying to talk them into something just doesn't work. In their minds, it is exactly as they are saying it is. Can you imagine a stranger suddenly appearing in front of you and saying your home when you look around and don't recognize anything. It must be terrifying for them.
I read the book" The validation breakthrough" by naomi feil. It was very helpful to me in dealing with and communicating with my Mom. Perhaps it will help you as well. I've now given my copy to the nurses aids at the nursing home unit where my Mom now lives. She only rarely ask to go home now and thinks that her parents are alive. This disease does change and it seems to me that the worse ( which was when she was at home and nothing or noone was familiar) is behind us. The issues are different and since her daily needs are being met by professionals, we have nice visits and time together.
My way of telling you that this is a journey that will constantly change, may get worse before it gets better but you will adjust as you go along.
Good luck,


Registered User
Mar 13, 2006
hi sue

you have my sympathy were actually going through this at the moment with my mum and like others the only way around it is to put her in the car and drive around the block and back again she's always happy to be home again!
she also thinks that my dad is a stranger and i have to go and kick him out of his own house, he goes out the backdoor and in the front and she knows him again.
my mum has been diagnosed for nearly a year, but her dementia was brought on by a heart attack resulting in brain damage.
they originally thought she had depression, apparently the symptoms are quite similar.
hope you get things sorted soon and look into all the help your intitled too.
good luck x


Registered User
Oct 25, 2006
Thanks rummy, that book looks interesting. I will pass on your advice about not reasoning to my Dad. He keeps saying that my Mum is an intelligent woman and tries to reason with her. I have said to him this is not about intelligence, it's an illness.

My Mum was diagnosed with depression too dmc, but this clearly is more than that. What I find so difficult is that my Dad is trying so hard, but she seems to hate him. She thinks he is lying to her, or trying to wind her up. I know it's the illness, but it's very hard to witness, or to hear about on the other end of a distraught 'phone call. I know that I will need to be quite bullish at our next consultant's meeting as my Dad finds it very hard to talk about what is happening when my Mum is there. He feels disloyal, but it's about getting her the right care, so will have to be done. Tough love I guess.

Thanks for your helpful comments - it is reassuring to know we are not alone and others have travelled this path before us. It's just so sad, isn't it?



Registered User
Feb 20, 2006
North West England
Dear Sue,

Sorry to hear you are going through hard times.

Talking Point has been a great help and comfort to me over these last months.

Sadly we all have same / similar problems, and if nothing else it is good to share and 'let of steam... ' 'share a thought or query'.... here on TP.

We have similar problems... with confusion ... paranoia... delusions.... accusations... stealing... cheating..... and then some.....
There's nothing wrong with me... It's you.... etc etc....

My husband can even be confused by a change in the colour of towels in the bathroom... He can no longer 'find' the loo.
it's not as though it is a big room !!

Or, if the hoover has been 'left out' in the lounge.... he forgets how and where to sit.
Even a tissue box on the coffee table is enough to distract him .... and he forgets where to sit...

This disease has so many variable 'manifestations'....
We can only learn from one another when we share our problems on TP.

Take Care.