We all know human connection is critical to our well-being. We want to feel valued, worthy, accepted, included and loved. This is important at all stages of life.
Sadly, as we age, the risk of social isolation increases. About 24 percent of Canadians over 65 report feeling isolated from others and wish they could participate in more social activities.
It doesn’t need to be this way. We can work together towards a solution.
Social Isolation Awareness Month
Each October, we run our Social Isolation Awareness Month campaign to help raise funds and awareness of social isolation. Here are three ways to get involved this year:
- RTOERO members can sign up for Chime In, a weekly online chat.
- Donate – all donations received during October 2021 will be directed to grants to support research and innovative programs to address social isolation.
- Register for Practical ways to address the growing epidemic of loneliness and isolation in older adults; a live webinar on October 5 at 1 p.m. EST
More facts about social isolation in Canada
- An estimated 30 percent of Canadians are at risk of becoming socially isolated.
- Risk factors include living alone, being 80 or older, having multiple chronic health problems, lacking transportation, lower income, changing family structures and being a caregiver.
- Isolation can happen during life transitions – like moving from work to retirement, losing a spouse, or experiencing an illness/disability and changes to our mobility.
- Isolation can lead to poor physical and mental health.
- People 65 years and older have the highest suicide rate of any other group.
- Not everyone experiences the negative consequences of social isolation — some people prefer to be alone. It’s a personal experience.
- Loneliness and social isolation aren’t the same things. Loneliness results when there’s a difference between the types of social relationships we want and what we perceive we have. We can be surrounded by people and still feel lonely.
What can we do about social isolation?
Individuals, government, organizations, researchers and businesses each have a role to play in helping to keep older adults socially engaged.
While some parts of the potential solution require government involvement (e.g. effective transportation systems), there are steps we can each take to improve the quality of life for ourselves, neighbours, friends and family members—simply staying connected with others is an excellent place to start.