How Can I Get My Mom to Expand Her Social Circle?

Updated on November 28, 2012
K.B. asks from Chicago, IL
9 answers

My mother is 62 and started dialysis about 2 years ago. This obviously, was a major life changing event for her. Since then, I have tried to be supportive, not really knowing what she needs. My mom is not the type to ask for help and will try to manage everything on her own. Now that she had "adjusted" to her life on dialysis, I see that she doesn't really have a social circle of friends to hang out with to garner support from. We don't live together and we see each other often, I try to include her in most of our family activities and have suggested that she take up a hobby, class or something that would get her around other people. She is a widow also, no dates right now. So, I know she is lonely. She doesn't belong to any group/organization. This health issue has only intensified this situation.

She's not the type to be a go-getter without lots of pushing. I hate that I am her only "social activity." She connects with her two sisters from time to time, but outside of family...there really isn't anyone that I can think of. Decades ago, she had lots of friends, but over the years I don't think she really cultivated these or kept in this is where we are. You know, I've even suggested that she call people (extended family) to connect and plan visits, etc. Nothing.

I know that having a good social network can help improve your life - mentally, emotionally and physcially. I would like to see her have a social network beyond me. I am not saying I don't enjoy her company, because I do. The issue is that I can't be the "everything." How can I encourage her? She's missing out on so much that might bring her some joy during this challenging time in her life.

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answers from Kansas City on

you have not said one thing to make me think SHE wants things to change. if you feel that you are spending too much time together, politely decline or make other plans. i just don't see one statement you've made that has anything to do with HER wishes.

now if you were to say that she is depressed, seems lonely (not "She is a widow also, no dates right now. So, I know she is lonely" - that does not mean she is lonely, that just means she's not dating), sad, or down a lot, then yes.

i could be reading this all wrong - i have only seen a small fraction of the whole situation. but to me it sounds like you are more interested in her being "social" than she is.

i am not a social person. i have been at different periods of my life, but naturally i tend to be more of a loner. i like being alone. i'm cool with it. she may realize now that there are things more important than being a social butterfly. she might not have the energy to do a lot of things. we don't know what she's thinking. but that is what matters.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

look for notices where she gets her dialysis, there may be support groups.

or maybe she can find a food pantry or soup kitchen where she can give a bit of time. This helped my MIL to keep connected.

Another option is a "Red Hat Society" you may bridge that transition by going to a few of the meetings with her (as a"red hat" or "purple hat", depending on your age). If you don't know anything about the Red Hat Society, I think you should be able to do a web search and find out more.


answers from Dallas on

There are several Senior centers around here. They have transportation to and from shopping, etc.


Neighborhood... my mom is close to a lot of her neighbors. They have regular get togethers and it is not uncommon for someone who made too much food one night to just bring dinner to my mom and step dad.

You are very kind to try to be helping her.



answers from Syracuse on

Lot's of people said church and that was my first thought, because church's can be so involved in the community.

Other than that, simply volunteering or taking up a new hobby. How about knitting, there are knitting clubs with women her age in every town. A senior yoga class or maybe swim class.



answers from Wichita Falls on

In our area we have 50+ group that has space over our library. They have movie days, bridge and domino groups, a fitness area, and other activities designed for the older group, all free. Look into your area and see what is available.



answers from Dallas on

There has got to be a senior center around.Check out your local rec center for classes.

You might find that there is a kind of bulletin board with opportunities for classes or something for seniors at the dialysis place. What about volunteering at that place or nearby hospital? I am sure there are people who are very afraid when they have to start dialysis and could use someone who has mastered it. Maybe start a group for that.

Church? Our older class finds their Sunday School class very comforting.
You could go with her a couple times.
Hope she finds something.


answers from Santa Fe on

My mom used to have no social circle - none. About 5 years ago she joined a Garden Club and she joined a Christian book club. A year ago she joined the YMCA. It's amazing how many friends she has now. She does a ton of volunteer work for the Garden Club and over time the ladies in there became friends. Now she has other women to go out to lunch with or go antique hunting with. It took time though to make these friends. Is there any way you can get her to join some clubs that are in her interest? Can you join with her at first? I can't tell you how good this has been for my mom.


answers from Columbia on

In my area, there is a senior center at the mall. Perhaps you could look for senior centers in your area? They get together for coffee, games, talk, Tai Chi, dancing, etc. It looks like fun.

Perhaps when you get together next, you could go together to a local Elks or Moose Lodge for Bingo night. One that is local to her. She might find that there are people she knows there. My mom joined the Elks this year and really seems to enjoy it. They do a lot of charity work and she's made friends there.



answers from San Francisco on

Oh my goodness..I could have written this same post. Only difference is my mom is an only child and it is a different medical condition.

I look forward to reading the responses you get.

Let's get our moms together!!

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