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Helping a Depressed Neighbor

answered 09:25 AM EST, Tue September 11, 2012
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anonymous anonymous
My neighbor is a good hearted old guy but his wife died from cancer last year and he is sort of unraveling now. He is only in his 60s but he is drinking all day long now and when I talk to him after work he is often very drunk by then. I feel really bad for the guy but he is not interested in talking with me about his drinking. He has a daughter who I have met only twice in the past 12 years and as far as I know no other family. I would like to help him but I do not have a clue what to do. Is there anyone I can call at AA or a group like that who might be able to come out and have a talk with this guy? It seems to me that he is forgotten about by everyone. I know that it is not really my business but it seems wrong to not try to do something.

Rob Danzman Says...

Dear Anonymous,

I would encourage you to create kind of a schedule or routine for when you go by to visit him. This seems silly but, we know from research and experience that even when someone is depressed they count on, and are often emotionally-supported by regular, predictable activities outside of their control. It sounds like he has some serious adjustment issues that would have been less severe if he had more natural supports in his life. You may also want to call your local Department of Social Services and ask for a social worker that works with seniors. They may be able to send someone over to him and start providing professional support in conjunction with your sincere and thoughtful visits. The drinking is more than likely a symptom and will not decrease until his emotional state stabilizes. When spending time with him, just be with him - don't try to convince him to do anything. It's a long, hard road when someone has lost a spouse. 

  1. Visit on a regular, predictable schedule 
  2. Contact Department of Social Services for Senior Support
  3. Listen Loudly and give little advice
Good luck. 
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Page last updated Sep 11, 2012

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