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I want to help my Dad with his depression

Community Member
I am an adult child that recently moved home, in many ways I am the prodigal son. My parents are in their sixty’s and seventy's (father) and we live together (this is temp situation and I move out next month). My dad has been depressed since they lost their home in the GFC and the passing of his dad several years ago, he lives in memories all the time talking about the past.
I have encouraged them to have marriage counselling at our church and they have had two sessions... It’s an uncomfortable feeling when he’s at home as I feel like he does not know what to do with himself or say, he makes very little eye contact... He works six days a week and should be retired and spends very little time with his wife, and next to none with his children.
When he’s not working, he’s weeding the lawn for hours on end and this goes on day after day (his routine is work 6 days, come home weed the garden, play slot machines on the computer, watch tv, go to bed) there is very little social interaction. it breaks my heart to watch all this...
My partner and I have helped my parents with lots of positive changes recently but dad is very stuck in his ways, I am sure he just tells the counsellor what they want to hear. I don’t want to get too involved by I feel fear that he probably needs more than marriage counselling and some psychology cbt but it’s very difficult to tell anyone this sort of thing and I am concerned it could be early dementia. I also worry for my mother who is now seeing a psychologist. My dad was always a cranky angry tradesman, he has softened in age but he’s very much his father’s son and lives in that old generation of boys don’t cry and finds it difficult to express his emotions. My father has many talents like playing music and other things and we are encouraging him to do those again. He wont read books so any help here would be greatly appreciated.
2 Replies 2

Thank you for showing such courage in posting and sharing your experience.  It can be a challenge to know what steps to take when supporting a loved one who is experiencing depression.  You might find the following resource helpful which includes some helpful tips and how to find the right kind of help:
Click Here
We also encourage you to make sure you are looking after yourself too through this process.  In addition to posting in the forums, you can call or chat to one of our trained mental health professionals who will also be able to listen and offer care; it’s completely confidential and available 24/7:
To call us, contact 1300 22 4636
To use webchat, Click Here 

Thank you again for joining this community, we hope that you can join other conversations that resonate with you and read about other users and their journey to better mental health. We want you to know that this is a safe space to discuss your thoughts, feelings and experiences and receive honest responses and suggestions from fellow forum users.
Kind regards,
Sophie M

Community Champion
Community Champion


I think it might be difficult for a son, even a very mature one, to steer parents in the direction that might be best. After all in the past steering went in the other direction, and that may be what they are used to. Still it's great you are thinking so much of their welfare and I do hope you have some success. They are lucky to have a son like you.

I guess the first port of call might be talking with your mum. Do you think that might be a good way to get ideas? My apologies if you are already doing this. If you have brothers or sisters or other family member they may have some ideas.

Looking back on things I would think doing two things have assisted me, the first being passing on the knowledge I've gained, both professionally and personally, to a younger person. In short mentoring.

The other is simply using my skills. In the case of your dad he may find it more productive if there was a community garden or public gardens where his efforts would not just be to make his own lawn good, but be part of a productive commodity - something that he can be eased into. (perhaps the current price of lettuce might be an incentive:)

How you might get him to do anything along these lines sadly I've no suggestions part from if there was someone to persuade him, maybe from the gardens or a society that includes mentoring.

Good luck