When Our Seniors Say “Take Me Home” But We Can’t – or Can We?

Have you heard “let’s go home” “take me home” or “is it time to go home”?

What will you do when your senior loved one asks you to take him/her home but you know you can’t do it?

What can we do besides suffer heartache listening to them cry “take me home” and “when can I go home”?

Many of our aging parents who are in need of more care or supervision than we can provide find themselves in a facility that is not their home and frequently pull at our heartstrings to go home.

For many, there will be no option. They will need the care and supervision that comes from professionals in a facility.

But for others, thorough planning and access to services may make it possible for them to stay at home or go back home for a bit longer.


Aging In Place Dreams

Depending on the extent of the needs that they have to be met, with some time spent planning and access to community services, we might be able to facilitate our seniors return to their home.

Getting a year or two at home instead of in a facility is a gift for many seniors.

They may eventually need to be in a facility, but putting that off as long as possible could be good for them.

There are many services available now that were only a dream in years past that might make staying at home awhile longer doable.

Naturally we want all our seniors to be safe while they are home so their safety is the first concern. If they can’t be safe at home, then a facility is the best place for them.

Options to Remain At Home

There are more and more options that caregivers have to give their seniors a hand to meet their needs, keep them safe and give them comfort.

Paid Caregivers

Once upon a time, hiring a housekeeper was the best aging seniors could do to get more help at home when some things became too difficult.

Now family caregivers can hire trained paid caregivers to supervise the safety of our seniors.

These caregivers can stay around the clock to supervise and keep seniors safe.

They can watch your loved one day and night.

They are trained to look after personal needs and medical care.

They can also cook, clean and provide transportation to appointments.

One of their most important duties can be to provide companionship to your senior when you can’t fill that need.


There are also great advances in technology resources that can help keep seniors safe at home, with much more to come.

There are devices to remind senior loved ones to take their medications at the right time and in the right dose.

There are sensors and monitors that can watch seniors’ every move in the house and pattern their movement to alert caregivers when a problem might be brewing.

Devices can even let you know if the stove is on at their house.

There are also devices that can call emergency personnel if needed. Personal Emergency Response Systems (PERS) have been around for a long time (remember “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up”?). They have come a long way in the past few years.

PERS now have longer ranges, can monitor movement patterns, use bluetooth to be with seniors when they aren’t at home and alert caregivers via smartphone apps when things are going wrong. Not to mention that these devices are much more invisible, stylish and acceptable to seniors to wear so they will actually use them.

Door alarms, bed alarms, internet connections to facilitate socialization, smart home features such as doorbell alerts so you know who is there before the door is opened, and many other smartphone apps that can fill gaps for caregivers are available to support caregivers and seniors who age in place.

Day Programs

Senior centers and day programs are available now in most every community.

These centers provide socialization, new experiences, hot meals, and resources during the day.

Some will even help with transportation if your senior needs that.

Community-based agencies and meal programs can be a great help to keep our seniors in their home as long as possible.

If financial resources are limited, arranging senior day care instead of paid caregivers during the day could be a good option, saving the paid caregiver for evening and overnight.

Financial Considerations

Some might think that the cost of around the clock care or community living can be out of their budget. There may be ways to supplement the cost of some of this home care.

If your senior has a long term care insurance policy, it might help offset the cost of these services that are crucial to keeping your senior safe at home.

Family members can band together, pool resources and come to an agreement on what is best for your seniors, including their wishes as much as possible.

Perhaps family or friends can volunteer to sit some of the time to reduce the time needed for paid caregivers, pitching in to do some of the chores so seniors budgets don’t take a hit for things such as yard work, home maintenance, meals, household chores or car upkeep.

There may also be respite programs that can supplement caregiver needs available through your department of aging services or disease-specific organization.

When “When Can I Go Home?” Has an Answer

Living in an institution does not have to be the “path of least resistance” for many families.

The Older Americans Act of 2006 has promoted the de-institutionalization of seniors and made grants to agencies for senior community services to support families.

Family caregivers who wish to help senior loved ones age in place safely also need help and support therefore building a network to help you help them achieve their dream will be important for you.

We all can take advantage of the great services available to our elders to grant their wishes as long as possible.

Let us know what steps you have taken to keep your seniors wherever they want to be.

8 thoughts on “When Our Seniors Say “Take Me Home” But We Can’t – or Can We?”

  1. When my mom fell and broker her neck, she was hospitalized for six months. She had to relearn how to walk, feed herself and try to dress. During this time we renovated our basement to accomodate her needs, and hired a PSW service to allow her to age in place and have her independence with routine. This has allowed her to have control and choice. This is so important in maintaining dignity.

  2. Aging in place sounds easy but is extremely demanding. Caregiving is so hard on the family… When the caregiver is a family member, and they provide necessary care like moving the patient which causes pain and discomfort, the patient associates that person with pain and fear. Emotionally devastating. It’s a mixed bag. No regrets for time, cost or commitment but you have no idea until you have been there. We were able to keep my FIL at home with caregivers, home health, and later hospice at home, and my husband quit his job to take care of his Dad, spending 12 hours a day there as well. He was the night shift, up with the dementia, his Dad talking out of his head at night, several times during the night trying to get out of bed as well(and he was not capable of walking, and permanently on a catheter )…and his Dad was physically abusive, fighting his caregivers and verbally. Exhaustion, in all forms, was incredible. Relationships with others always under the strain. The time with his Dad was priceless, but had a huge impact. Love did not count the cost but it did turn the world upside down.

    • Donna, thank you for sharing your story. Caregiving can be a rough road on many levels — financial, emotional, physical. It is improved with good planning for all of the above. Getting assistance, respite and resources is key for caregivers of seniors. It can be the best and the worst day all rolled up into one. Thank you and your spouse for caring!

  3. I choose to move into the home with my grandfather with dementia aprox. 3 years ago. He has lived in this same home for over 70 years. He still attempts to put on his coat and hat and let me know he is ready to go back “to the house” now. When I ask him which house, he gives me the description of the very house we are sitting in.

    My point to that statement is that sometimes, emphasizing sometimes, when they want to go home…they don’t always have a comprehension of “home” and while I realize it isn’t the case for every senior, I hope to ease some of the guilt of family members that are unable to care for their senior in the seniors home.

    • You are correct, Paula! Many seniors with cognitive impairment who ask to go home don’t mean that literally or comprehend anything by that statement. In their mind it may be their childhood home or previous residence. It seems as though they are unsure where they are so a habit/memory is to say ‘let’s go home’. It is a good idea not to argue or contradict to be truthful, just go with the flow and ask questions or even answer with a therapeutic lie. Check if they have unmet needs like thirst, toileting, or time for a nap. Good luck!

  4. You missed a huge piece of this issue by not listing skilled medical home health. This is the service provided by home health providers offering medical home health under a physician’s order to coincide with paid services and resources. Our Elders, now more than ever, have health issues that only a skilled nurse, physical or occupational therapist or a speech therapist can provide. My agency also offers home health/ bath aides and social workers as well. This service is a part a Medicare provider and is 100% covered for the patient unless they switch to a managed care insurance with other benefits.

    • Maria, thank you for sharing your viewpoint. Seniors who ask to ‘go home’ as this article describes are often in a long term care facility which already has skilled professionals caring for them. Seniors who are at home aging in place asking to ‘go home’ are likely in need of custodial care which is not covered by Medicare. You are correct that in-home medical care can be obtained with a physician’s order and is covered by Medicare but this is usually not the first option as it requires a skilled medical need. Not all seniors in LTC facilities or at home receiving custodial care will qualify for medical home health. There is no doubt that our seniors should receive all the benefits and services for which they qualify. Caregivers should ask their doctors for all possible treatments that will benefit their senior loved ones and if medical home care is a choice, it should be pursued. No treatment modality should be off the table, but caregivers need to be aware that not all seniors qualify for all services.

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