Information and resources that support your role in caring for a loved one.

It is not easy to watch a loved one suffer from depression. You often feel helpless. While it is essential to seek professional medical care for someone afflicted with depression, there are still many ways you can support your care recipient from withdrawing altogether.

The most important thing is to let the person know that they are loved and that you support them. Depression is not controllable; it is not something a person is choosing to be. By showing you love them, you are helping them remember how important they are to you. It helps maintain a sense of “being needed.”

As we age, it is easy not to feel like we have a purpose. Physical restrictions cause feelings of not being viable. Give your loved one a chore that they can handle. It can be something as simple as folding the towels or have them help you make a choice on an online purchase. Bring the laptop or tablet to them, show them the photos, and ask their opinion. This lets them know, through action, that their ideas are valuable to you and in turn, that they are still valued.

Isolation is a significant contributor to depression. The loss of friends or a spouse can make a senior feel like they are all alone. Encourage interaction. If they are not inclined to join a senior center, get creative. On nice days, I ask my 83-year-old mom to come with me when I bring my dog to the dog park. There is shade, and I bring a folding chair for her. We chat while the dogs play. Other dog owners strike up conversations with her. It also helps me get a task completed while caregiving and gives my mom and I an enjoyable time spent together. Find a scenario that fits your lifestyle.

The key is, do not force it. If your loved one is reluctant to socialize, arrange it so that they feel they are keeping you company.

These are just a few ideas. If you have successful techniques for supporting a care recipient with depression, please share on our social media pages. We would love to hear from you! Include #CGMWdepression

For more information on depression, visit our website.

Additionally, help for elders specifically in MetroWest who are suffering from depression or any mental health issue is available through the Elder Community Care program.

Elder Community Care is a partnership project of Advocates, Inc., United way of Tricounty and BayPath Elder Services, Inc. and funded by a grant from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health that provides comprehensive assessment and counseling services to elders and their families in MetroWest.

ECC can also speak with you about ways to talk to your friend or loved one about getting help. Anyone can make a referral to the ECC program by calling 508-573-7250.

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