This article first appeared in Liaison, our member newsletter.
It’s taken a pandemic for many Canadians to understand one of the country’s biggest health risks – social isolation.
Before COVID-19, social isolation was the top emerging issue facing seniors in Canada. Now, the threat is amplified – and affects everyone.
“As we’re all aware these days, it’s vital for people to stay connected,” says Mike Prentice, Executive Director of the RTOERO Foundation. “Being isolated increases mental health issues like depression and anxiety and is a contributing factor to hospitalizations, dementia and elder abuse.”
The Foundation invests funding in efforts that benefit Canada’s seniors. That includes research, awareness and community projects to address social isolation. One in five Canadians over 65 feels isolated and another 30% are at risk of becoming isolated.
There’s good news – we can each take steps to address the problem. Try these tips to help:
• Be open to learning and using new technology that can keep you connected.
• Reach out to neighbours, friends and family members who might be struggling. Make time to talk to them and be a sympathetic ear.
• Arrange chores, like grocery shopping or meal deliveries, for people on their own.
• Sign up to be part of the foundation’s Social Isolation Awareness Month campaign, which takes place every October. You can help raise awareness about this critical issue.
With this issue at the forefront in 2020, it’s important to remember that we may be physically distanced now, but we don’t have to be socially isolated.