Getting your mom to leave the house and go to social functions is proving impossible. She used to be more comfortable visiting family and attending gatherings with friends, but that’s changed. Have you looked at social anxiety as the reason this is happening? Social anxiety affects about 7% of the population, and it usually appears around the age of 13. It may not seem likely to happen in older adults, but it can, and it often goes hand-in-hand with health issues like dementia. People with dementia are likely to withdraw and become very anxious in social situations. Here are a few things to consider about social anxiety and how home care can help.
Understanding the Realities of Social Anxiety
When a person has social anxiety, they’re constantly in fear of what other people are thinking or saying about them. They live in fear of being judged, doing something wrong or foolish in front of others, or saying the wrong thing.
A person with social anxiety may reflect on something that was said months or even years ago and be filled with shame. Rather than go through this, it’s often easier to avoid social situations. Withdrawing from public events, family gatherings, or reunions is common behavior with social anxiety.
People with Alzheimer’s disease are often easily agitated, and this is due to anxiety. As memories, names, and facial recognition diminish, it’s easy to become anxious in large gatherings. There’s too much activity, noise, and conversation to be comfortable.
Helping Your Mom Deal With Social Anxiety
Your mom’s memory care doctor is a great source of information on how to help with Alzheimer’s-related anxiety issues. Sometimes, medications can help ease anxiety, but that’s just one option.
Prepare your mom in advance for gatherings. Pick and choose the ones to attend, and try to stick to small events where your mom will be very familiar with people.
Make sure that people know your mom has Alzheimer’s. They need to know some tips for keeping her from feeling awkward or anxious. If she asks a question over and over, they should just keep answering it without saying she’s already told them that.
You might want to consider having business cards printed up that have Alzheimer’s tips printed on them. Your mom sees you slipping someone a business card and won’t think much of it. If you speak up and say she has Alzheimer’s where she can hear it, she might feel self-conscious and that can worsen the situation.
Follow Your Mom’s Cues
How can you help your mom when she’s experiencing social anxiety? Don’t push her into situations that make her uncomfortable. If there is a gathering that she must attend, make sure it’s on familiar ground, such as her home, where she has a safe place to go if she feels uncomfortable.
It may be best to stop pushing her into social events with family and friends. If she’s scared and anxious, let her stay home while you go. A home care provider can offer your mom one-on-one companionship at home that may make her feel more comfortable than being in public. Home care aides cover all of her care needs and provide you with a chance to go out and have fun.