A dementia client living in a retirement home refuses to leave her apartment. How can I get her to go out?

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She states that she'll drive herself to the grocery store or make her own beauty appointment and go on her own, although she does not have a car and has not driven for several years. Attempts to invite her with statements such as, "I'd enjoy your company" are met quickly with no responses. This client lost her husband/caregiver a few weeks ago.

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Her husband died a few weeks ago?!! For heavens' sake, respect a period of mourning. It is a kindness for others to suggest outings. I appreciated that effort when I was a new widow. But I still wasn't ready until I was ready! A person with dementia will have all kinds of mixed emotions swirling around in her head.

She just lost not only the person she shared her life with, but the one person she could absolutely rely upon to love her in spite of all her impairment, and the person who saw that her needs were met. And this was only a few weeks ago. My gosh, give this poor lady time!

Continue to offer to take her out, but do it gently and without any implication that she "should" be ready to go out. For now it might be better to spend time with her in her own familiar environment. Look at scrapbooks. Play cards. Be her social lifeline. Make a grocery list with her and pick up her essentials.

In previous generations, for a new widow to be out and about within weeks of the death would have been scandalous. I am glad we are past that outlook, but I'm afraid we've thrown the baby out with the bathwater. People grieve in their own ways and at their own pace. Who says the person "should" be ready to go to the beauty shop now?
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All good answers Garden, Pam, Jesse, Sunny!
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First, take care of her most basic needs, food, clothes, bath/shower. Ask her friends to come visit her at home. (Look them up in the funeral guest book, have her show you.) Have her talk about her husband, her life. Socializing, especially too soon when grieving, is over-rated, IMOP.
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P.S. We are having a full moon exit the house event here, but hubby doesn't know it yet.
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Be kind, give her time, then take her outside on Christmas eve (have a required fire drill) to see the full moon.
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We discussed this in the Creating Confident Caregivers class but I don't recall what the issues or suggestions were, other than something to the effect that as old age, some memory loss perhaps, declining mobility, hearing loss (especially that) and other factors set in, the person feels less confident in going out and being with a group, especially of people he/she doesn't know or recognize.

The ability to interact deteriorates with hearing loss, the person feels uncomfortable and gradually prefers just to stay home.

Add in bladder or bowel issues, and the confidence loss accelerates and comfort level decreases.

I don't think people should be pressed to go out and socialize just for the sake of it. I think they're more comfortable if people they do know visit them, in the comfort, security, and awareness of their own surroundings. Then they can feel safer, less challenged to be in an unfamiliar environment.

One of the hardest parts of caring for older parents or family members is putting ourselves in their places, when they themselves often don't understand the dynamics of the situations.

Putting pressure on someone who doesn't want to be social will only make them more uncomfortable, and you more unwelcome, especially if you're a paid companion and not a relative or someone this woman has known for years.

I'd say back off and give her the space she needs.
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She does need time to grieve and someone to listen to her pour out her feelings. If she is a religious woman, I would ask her minister to visit her.
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This is not at all uncommon for older people. My mother is also afraid to leave the home except to go to two places where she feels comfortable. She has even become reluctant to go into her front yard. There are probably a few reasons -- less energy, loss of motor skills, confusion, dread of having to interact with people, fear of falling or wetting themselves, fear of looking crazy. They feel safe inside the burrow of their homes when the world has become a scary place.
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I'm not sure I understand your relationship with her. Are you her caregiver? Do you have authority to take her on outings? The profile says she has dementia. Is that right? If so, she may think that she is still able to drive to her appointments. Perhaps, she has forgotten that she doesn't drive. Does she have transportation by cab or other service? I'm not sure what you are asking her to do.

If it is your job to get her out of the house, then I might look into why she may not want to go.

Maybe, she's still grieving the death of her husband and needs more time.

Maybe, she suffers from incontinence and is afraid she'll wet or soil herself if she goes out. Does she wear diapers? Some people are uncomfortable with that. They are afraid of having an accident.

Maybe she feels dizzy or weak and is afraid of falling. Does she use a walker?

Maybe, she's depressed and needs to discuss it with her doctor.

Maybe, it's none of those and she just doesn't know how to get ready to go out. Maybe her husband did that for her. Sometimes, you just get them ready and escort them out the door, assuming you have authority to do that.
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