Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Visiting network for individuals with mental illness?

Someone tell me if this is a dumb idea. One very mentally draining thing for me about caring for my mom with psychosis is feeling like I always have to be there to provide her with company and just not having time to myself.

My mom has no friends because of her psychosis and I always wished I had a friend who would be willing to have a social visit with her for a few hours. A friend who would understand that my mom has psychosis and not judge the stuff she says. It made me wonder, what if there was a network for volunteers to schedule visits with people with mental illness? Just like how there are regions that have volunteer visitors for elderly. I guess one obvious barrier would be the liability of subjecting volunteers to individuals who might be unpredictable, but if there was a way to screen around this. If my mom had like 2 friends who could visit her twice a week to play board games or have lunch, I think she would really enjoy it.

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Sounds like a great idea if your Mom would allow your friends to be with her. My next door neighbor is a sitter (not of the medical type) and often she just goes to sit with people while they have their morning coffee or tea and maybe read the paper to them. This is not far from what you’re considering. I have another friend who actually runs a home care for seniors and maybe I can ask for her input about the liability. Will let you know. :palm_tree:

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My mom loves talking to people and socializing. But when she tries to make friends, sometimes she says things that don’t make sense due to her psychosis and I think that scares people off. That’s why someone who already knows to expect this would be helpful.

She uses an online support chatroom for people with mental health and she tells me that even a lot of the volunteers will tell her that they need to go after a short conversation. They’re volunteers with mental health training, but no education in the field so I get that some must feel in over their head, but the service is there for people to have others to talk to so it does frustrate me.

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Do you have any friends of your own who might already be familiar with your situation and like to help in this manner? Often our friends just don’t know what to do. Or they may have unfounded fears about our loved one due to diagnosis.

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Great idea ! I think that would be wonderful .

I love this thought so much. I have felt the same so many times over the past 4 years with my son.

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It’s a little difficult. I don’t have too many friends myself in the area so I only have one friend who knows what’s going on. I’m only in my 20s so a lot of my friends still live with their parents, don’t drive, work minimum wage jobs, etc. When lockdown ends, I will see if my friend wants to visit from time to time, but I wish there was a volunteer visiting network that could be more reliable.

About 5 years ago, when my daughter was unmedicated, I had one friend who was very active in his church who volunteered to come see her a few times. He made arts and crafts and my daughter used to love doing that, so he tried to interest her in making a few items. He was over 70 years old, and had lots of time, she was in her early 30s then, living alone in her bedroom delusional. Perhaps you could call some nearby churches to see who might be able to help you with visits to your mom.

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I wonder if an adult day program might work for her? They typically serve older and disabled folks of varying physical abilities, as long as they are mobile or mobile with help. They are used to conversation that may not be rational (dementia).

Since she has no insight into her illness, she will not agree to attend any programs specifically for individuals with disabilities unfortunately. I have been looking into a visiting program for elderly that we have in our area, but I am not sure yet if she will agree to it. If I tell her it’s just a general visiting program for people who want more socialization, she might try it. One thing I am unsure about is having the conversation with program coordinators about my mom’s illness in a way that explains her behaviours, but also doesn’t stigmatize it/make the person concerned about safety. I think sometimes people who lack knowledge about psychosis hear “delusions” and automatically assume the person is violent or aggressive.

You don’t have to use the word “delusions” but just tell the truth. I think you are saying that she likes to socialize but her thought processes make her social skills awkward and her statements misunderstood sometimes. And if they ask, and if this is true, you can say that she is not violent or aggressive.

It is interesting that she will go to a support chat room for persons with mental health issues so I think there is hope that she will participate in other supportive activity in an environment where she can be accepted at face value. I wonder if she is more comfortable online vs. in person?

Sometimes persons with serious mental illness cannot acknowledge their illness but they might be able to say they have “anxiety” or “depression”. That could be enough to get her into a support group like NAMI (Home | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness - support groups for “peers” and families), or if there is a faith-based (Christian) connection, Fresh Hope (https://www.freshhope.us/) is less common but has support groups for peers and family around the country. Many of these support groups currently have on-line options.