Social anxiety and isolation

My mum has a diagnosis of vascular dementia. She lives alone and has always been very sociable. Over the last year she has gradually stopped going out and often spends the day in bed. I am worried that she is becoming isolated as this week she refused to come to our house for lunch.

People with vascular dementia often have some days that are better than others. Sometimes there can be a temporary disruption in the blood supply to part of the brain (‘transient ischaemic attack’- TIA) and this can make the person drowsy. People with vascular dementia are also at a higher risk of depression, which could also be the reason for the behaviour you are describing.

Either way, your mum may need a little bit of help with a befriending service, companionship care or a structured dementia activity like singing for the brain or a dementia cafe. These activities and help will be pitched at a level she can cope with, and be facilitated by people who understand her vascular dementia.

When you invite your mum to do something with you and your family, just let her know a very short while before the event. This will help prevent her getting worried about what she is going to be doing and how she is going to cope. When you arrive to take her out, use statements like ‘time to leave mum, I am just getting my coat’ and keep questions and choices to the minimum. Never ask her if ‘she remembers’ as this can make her defensive and she may well then reject your offer of going out.