What Is Home?
by Stephanie “Teffie” Landmann, COTA/L,
PAC Support Mentor, Coach, and Trainer
It’s been said home is a feeling, not a place. I didn’t fully understand this until a few years back when I got off the wrong exit to go home.
At that time, I was a traveling therapist and lived in an RV. I traveled all over the country making a new home every thirteen weeks. During one of my stays in Stephenville, Texas I made new friends that became really more like family. I spent time with them on their ranch in a rural area of North Texas. For a gal from the beaches of North Carolina it was an exciting new adventure. The land is spacious and there is always something to do on the ranch. Side lesson, don’t go in the pasture to feed? the cows wearing your beach flip flops.
The family welcomed me with open arms and really taught me how to be a Texan. Did you know the little pond of water in the pasture is not a pond, it’s a tank? Also, and this may upset some folks, pecans are pronounced pe-caUns, not pe-cans. I started to spend as much of my free time at the ranch as I could. Everyone made me feel welcome and appreciated. The ranch became a special place, because of the atmosphere the family created.
One evening driving from Dallas to Stephenville it became clear just how much the place meant to me. In my brain I was driving home, which should have been back to my RV. This drive is about an hour and forty minutes. Halfway through the route is the exit for the ranch. Not thinking, I exited the highway and headed toward the ranch. In that moment, home was a feeling not a place. Not to worry I was able to get back on the highway and finish my trip to my RV.
This little detour off the highway got me thinking about people living with dementia. We often hear, I wanna go home. Stop and ask yourself are they wanting to go to a place, or looking for the feeling of familiar? Often long-term care settings are very different than a home setting. The person living with dementia is needing something familiar.
Try this next time you hear, I wanna go home:
- Reflect back what the person said, You want go home?
- Ask, Are you looking to do (task) something there or just be there (feeling)?
- Reflect back and find something to meet their need for a task or feeling
Give it a try in one of our Champion Courses. I’d love to see you there. In my book everyone is family no matter how you say pecan.