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How Can I Get Mom to Leave Her Room and Socialize?

Answered by David Troxel

November 4, 2015

My mother was recently diagnosed with dementia, and placed into a skilled nursing facility as she requires 24 hr care. My question is that she refuses to leave out her room to socialize (go to cafeteria to eat and share time with the other residents there), how can we as family get her to be involved with others?

She just was admitted week ago. I understand she just got there, however, from what family member are telling me, the staff at nursing facility are not nor do not encourage her to be involved, they just allow her to stay bed and in room all day.

I am going to see here next week and figure out what going on and hope to talk with her and encourage her and also the lead manager person at facility.

As she needs to get out for rehab and physical therapy and just some air and sunshine.

I appreciate your advice on handling this issue and whether to relocate her.

Thanks for your question. Here are a few ideas for your situation.

First, give her a bit more time. Change is difficult for all us, including persons with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia. She is likely confused and frightened. She may find her room a safer place to be.

When you visit her be sure to offer lots of emotional support. She will enjoy your smiles, hugs and reassurance. Some families make the mistake of trying to “explain” the situation to the resident – don’t try to convince her she is in the right place. Just listen and be supportive.

By all means be proactive with the staff. Ask for a meeting with the key team members and share your concerns. Work together to devise some strategies that might turn a “no” into a “yes.” Check her medical condition to see if something is impacting her mood or energy, e.g. depression or pain.

Put together a good Life Story on your mom, over and above any form you filled out. List her likes and dislikes and preferences. If staff know she loves strawberry ice-cream, worked in politics or likes dogs this will give them an opportunity to engage with her.

Make the most of your visits. Try to get her out of doors on nice days (borrow a wheel chair if needed), put on some of her favorite music and let her know you care.

I would ask the team for a follow up meeting in two to three weeks to see how she is adjusting. Best wishes.

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