You want your mum to live life to the full, to be sociable and, most of all, to be happy. So why doesn’t she seem to want the same thing? It’s difficult and frustrating for family carers when their mum loses motivation to go out as they used to, or just outright refuses to leave their home to do any of the necessary chores life entails. What do you think is stopping her from wanting to go out? Is there something you can do to make life easier or to remove the obstacles getting in her way?
Your mum’s social circle may have become quite small as she has aged and her friends have become frail, infirm or passed away. Arranging transport may be an issue if memory or eyesight have deteriorated and driving is no longer an option. It is worth looking out for local activities and groups which your mum may enjoy. She may find it quite daunting to approach new people to look for friendship. There are lots of groups where she would be warmly welcomed, introduced to the regulars and included in activities. It’s quite common to meet old friends or acquaintances at these groups; it really is a small world.
Your mum may be recently bereaved (be it a spouse, friend, neighbour, or even pet) or still missing a loved one and not feel ready to be moving on with her life. This is a time for your family to support mum, to be gentle and encouraging, and not expect too much change too soon.
If you really don’t know what the issue is, have the conversation with your mum and ask why she doesn’t want to go out. She may have simply lost confidence following a fall or illness or find it difficult and confusing in her local community, where life appears faster and busier.
If your mum has always preferred her own company to go out, it is unlikely she will change her personality and suddenly become bubbly and outgoing in her older age, so be realistic in your expectations.
You may be reading this thinking that you would love to have more time to spend with your mum, but actually, you work or look after your own children or grandchildren, and you feel frazzled with everything you need to fit into your week.
This is when you should consider looking for additional support, whether it’s from a voluntary befriender or a paid carer. Someone who can encourage your mum to go out, provide door to door transport, stay with your mum to provide support and reassurance and take her back home again afterwards. This can work really well, and as your mum gets used to the new routine, and to know and trust her new friend, her confidence will grow. You may be missing out on the support that frees up your time to enjoy quality time with your mum.
We all need social contact, and there are so many opportunities waiting outside your mum’s door in her local area, so why not give one of these suggestions a try? Let me know how you get on!
Independent Social Worker