1. Brumsteve

    Brumsteve Registered User

    Feb 12, 2019

    Yet another question from me but my Mom's dementia seems to be progressing quickly and different things seem to be happening rapidly.

    My Mom has started to pack bags with clothes and other items like cutlery and magazines. We have asked her why she is packing and she says it's because she is getting ready to go home. she is currently living at home but we are waiting for a place in a residential home which, hopefully, will be sorted in a couple of weeks time. She has carers visit 3 times a day.

    Can someone advise - whether it's best to leave her bags packed ready for her move or to keep unpacking them only for her to repack them the next day? Not sure what is the best thing to do for her and also us.
  2. jaymor

    jaymor Volunteer Moderator

    Jul 14, 2006
    I would say unpack them for her to pack again as long as you unpacking the bags does not distress her. Then she can occupy herself packing again and have the satisfaction of getting ready ‘to go home’.
  3. marionq

    marionq Registered User

    Apr 24, 2013
    One of the core symptoms - packing, going home, issues with money all very common. They do pass but my how they wear you down.
  4. canary

    canary Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    South coast
    It sounds like your mum has lost recognition of her house as "home".
    I would unpack her things again, because she is probably not packing appropriate stuff and she isnt packing to move onto her care home - she packing to "go home".

    This desire to "go home" seems to be common in all sorts of dementia - it is not actually a real place (so she will never actually find the "home", wherever she goes), but is a desire for safety and lack of confusion. Often, if you ask them to describe "home", you will find that it is a childhood home. You will probably find that she still does it once you move her into the care home. Please remember when she is begging you to "take her home" that she doesnt mean her present home.
  5. Feistywoman

    Feistywoman Registered User

    Aug 11, 2018
    Sounds similar to my Mum too though she just packs small bags which I unpack and then we can be incident free for a week before we’re off again. We had a chat about where ‘home’ is, went back through the houses she has lived in but I think ultimately it was her childhood home she’s looking for. Sometimes the randomness of the packing gives you a smile, my Mums latest was, dressing gown, nightie, slippers, about 100 fags, black bags (empty) one pop sock and a Christmas stocking!

    If it doesn’t distress your Mum I’d unpack and let her repack when she feels like it.
  6. Rosalind297

    Rosalind297 Registered User

    Oct 14, 2017
    My Mum has only packed for home once, about a year ago - her motley collection was one banana and one apple in each slipper with a toilet roll to be transported in a waste paper basket. Don’t know what caused it that time but I managed to convince her that her “collection” wouldn’t be able to go with her so she decided to stay - the collection is a hoard of toilet roll, kitchen roll and tissues which can be found in every drawer, cupboard and hidey-hole throughout the house. Tons of the stuff.

    Thankfully these days she only talks about going home on the days she sundowns and when we tell her she is sleeping here (her actual house) tonight she says “oh good, I like it here, in fact I may as well stay here every night”.
  7. RosettaT

    RosettaT Registered User

    Sep 9, 2018
    Mid Lincs
    My OH started off by emptying his wardrobe or the airing cupboard of his clothes, it then progressed to packing he would pack all manor of things. 4 types of the same charger, old flying suit, George Cross flag, a tea towel, bag of old pennies, gardening shoes. In fact nothing of use if he was moving at all. He never wanted to go home but he did want to go back to his old work place, which tbh you could describe as his 'home' he loved is work.
    What I found interesting was he couldn't remember appointments or what we had planned and yet everyday at the same time he 'remembered' he had to go back to work.
    Fortunately it didn't last long.
  8. reedysue

    reedysue Registered User

    Nov 4, 2014
    My mum is in the process of packing at the moment, so far she has her handbag, a soft toy dog and a jewellery box containing a motley assortment of broken bits and pieces. I have asked her where she is going but at the moment she is not sure.
  9. marionq

    marionq Registered User

    Apr 24, 2013
    When John was going through this stage he usually started by emptying the medicine cabinet on to his bed then the contents of his top drawer. I felt that he imagined he was in a hotel room and was taking his possessions back home. At some point I intervened usually on the edge of hysterics as I was still a learner then on how to deal with this stuff.

    It all seems like a long long time ago as we have had so many phases since the packing phase.
  10. Storm trooper

    Storm trooper New member

    Apr 20, 2019
    Yes I know that feeling well. Packing clothes with dirty clothes, food out of the fridge and photos I asked what mom was doing and she was waiting for dad (he’s been gone 15 years) then they were going home!!!! What is with checking her bag for her purse and then checking her money ( about 15 times every few minutes!!! And I’ve lost count on the times she looses her keys xxx
  11. window7

    window7 Registered User

    Jul 12, 2012
    I have always thought that mom will never forget this place where we have spent the last 40 years. She saved more than 10 years to buy this apartment. So, it was a shock when several months ago, she started telling me she wanted to "go home" and packet a small plastic bag of random stuff. Up to that time, she was still well enough to go out on her own and come back home but she left house one afternoon and went missing. The police found her several hours later on another part of the island and she had to be admitted because she fell. I presume that was one of the occasion when she tried to find her way home. II now put her in elder care during the day. On those days when she says that she wants to "go home", I would just divert her attention by telling her to watch TV first while I do something else.
  12. Brumsteve

    Brumsteve Registered User

    Feb 12, 2019
    Since first writing this post my mom has rapidly deteriorated and has sadly now gone to a residential care home.
    I can sympathise with anyone who goes through the packing phase as it isn't nice and causes a lot of frustration and upset to the carer when someone has lived in their home for years and suddenly they start to pack to go home plus you have to unpack over and over again.
    My advice is to persevere through it and understand that the person doing this is very confused. Distract them and just keep unpacking, it will pass.
  13. marionq

    marionq Registered User

    Apr 24, 2013
    It is true that it will pass and another phase take over. I don’t think enough info and discussion is given by professionals to this aspect of dementia. In the seven years since my husband’s diagnosis we have been through countless phases which took over our lives for weeks and months and then suddenly stopped and were replaced by another. This is very disconcerting for a sane person as you are constantly looking for solutions. You become an expert in an illness you knew nothing about but your expertise is being shifted about so the feeling of dismay goes on and on.
  14. Paul A

    Paul A New member

    Feb 4, 2019
    Mum is doing the same in the care home. Not always. I have found saying 'tomorrow' you are going home works because she sadly does not remember. There is no real right or wrong way of dealing with it. Just the one that causes the least distress to them
  15. Canadian Joanne

    Canadian Joanne Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 8, 2005
    Toronto, Canada
    @Paul A, you are so right - causing the least distress should always be the goal.

    My mother packed up in the retirement home every day for at least two months before she gradually stopped. I would just say "Not today" and unpack. We removed all bags but Mum would steal bin liners and pack all her clothes up in those.

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