My wife is 69 and was diagnosed with Alzheimer's approximately 3 years ago. 5 months ago she was hospitalized and diagnosed with delusions and paranoia. My biggest challenge is that she wants to "go home" every day although we live in the house we built 20 years ago. If you ask why she will say she is frightened or just wants to leave. If you ask where her house is she will give this address and describe this neighborhood. We take endless drives trying to find the other house. Any ideas?

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Hi, I’m sorry that you’re going through this. My best advice is to actually not go look for the other house. She’ll never find it, and you’ll waste a lot of gas along the way. She’s looking for a house that doesn’t exist any longer: perhaps it’s a house where you both were younger, if you have kids, it’s a place where they played, it FEELS different now. She’s looking for a feeling, not so much a location. Instead of asking why she wants to go, say you can go in a little bit. Give an excuse as to why you can’t go “right now” (i.e. the car needs gas, it’s dark, it’s raining, you’re waiting for a phone call, there’s a good TV show on, etc.) Delay, delay, delay. There’s no point in showing her the house she’s looking for is the one she’s in: it just doesn’t make sense to her.

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Rachael Wonderlin is an internationally-recognized dementia care expert and consultant. She has a Master’s in Gerontology and is the author of three published books with Johns Hopkins University Press. Rachael owns Dementia By Day, a dementia care consulting and education company.

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