How can I help my mother be more social and accept help from others?

4 answers | Last updated: Oct 02, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

Mom is 92 and in good physical health and gets around with no problem. She is living in a senior apartment complex where most of her current neighbors are still active and come and go all day. We have her meals delivered daily.She continually complains that she has no one to talk to or sit outside in the patio area with. I hired a lady to come every other day for 30 minutes to 1 hour to sit with her and visit and just talk. After 3 days Mother hid in her apartment and wouldn't come outside or answer the door. Before we moved her from her home we had hired someone to come 3 days a week to do light housekeeping and fix her meals. She locked them out of the house and refused to let them do anything. She says she doesn't need assistance. Please give me some advice on how to handle this.

Expert Answers

Carolyn Rosenblatt, R.N. and Attorney is the author of author of The Boomer's Guide to Aging Parents. She has over 40 years of combined experience in her two professions. As a nurse, she has extensive experience with geriatrics, chronic illness, pain management, dementias, disability, family dynamics, and death and dying. As a trial attorney, she advocated for for the rights of injured individuals and neglected elders. She is also co-founder of

You ask about helping mom be more social when she rejects the offers of help you have made or tried to set up. It's important to find out more about what's going on with mom's mental health. Social isolation can be risky for elders. Sometimes it's related to depression, to dementia or to other issues. Isolation can lead to other, more sinister problems. I suggest that you seek an evaluation of mom by a geropsychiatrist or other sensitive and understanding mental health professional who works with elders. You may have to talk her into it. She will probably not want to go, but you will need to insist. Ask her to do it for your sake, to humor you.

Research has demonstrated that social contact and engagement with others is an important component of our mental health at any age. Some are more inclined to socialize than others, but few people thrive without social engagement. You are on the right track, showing your concern. If her isolation is related to depression, which lots of doctors miss, please know that depression is treatable and that there is a good chance of successful treatment of depression with elders. Do your research and find a good provider. Your local Mental Health Association or Area Agency on Aging will be possible resources for you. Keep working on this. Your mom needs your assistance and the problem requires attention.

Community Answers

Dee05 answered...

If possible, it might help if you spend some time with your Mother when the caregiver/companion is there and sit with them for light conversation. It may be the bridge that is needed since it seems harder for some older people to make new friends. I suspect your Mother wants the company of someone she knows. Once the stranger effect diminishes she may learn to enjoy the company of her new 'acquaintance'.

Confuse answered...

I tried that and they got along very well while I was there. I think the real problem is mother wants me to stay (live) with her or her with me which is not possible because I still work full-time and live in a very isolated area that would not provide the wonderful services she receives now.

A fellow caregiver answered...

Shes not completely isolated - She lives amongst other people. Maybe she needs some tips on how to engage some (or just one) of her neighbors? Or more importantly how to engage those of her neighbors she has things in common with.

I wouldn't assume she wants you to live with her or vice versa. Maybe she just wants to spend more time with you - Maybe not?? Maybe she just doesn't like the people you choose for her. It may take awhile to find someone she 'clicks' with.

It might be a better idea to have someone come over and do some specific activities with her such as exercise, board games, cooking a dessert, crafts, etc., etc. It could be something you know she enjoys or something new. It's easier to bond while doing an activity rather than just sitting and talking with someone she barely knows.

Good luck!!