Alivio Downsizing

The Effects of Social Isolation in Seniors

In an effort to help break the stigma and raise awareness on mental health, we need to start conversations to foster a culture of support.

#BellLetsTalk Day is a great initiative that continues to work as a driver towards chipping away at that stigma that only acts as a barrier for mental health support.

An issue that affects a large part of our society is senior social isolation. Worsened since the start of Covid, it is now recognized globally as a public health issue. Social isolation is defined by the World Health Organization, as a person experiencing a smaller number of social contacts that may contribute to loneliness. Further, loneliness is defined as the pain felt when social connections do not meet one’s needs. Both have been directly linked to the degradation of physical* and mental health. There is strong evidence that many adults aged 50 and older are socially isolated in ways that can result in higher rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide. Other Life events that only exacerbate the likeness of worsening or developing those mentioned mental health issues are:

  • The loss of or separation from a spouse.
  • The sudden decrease of social exposure, routine, and purpose that can happen in retirement.
  • The loss of mobility and/or an inability to drive.

So what can we do to help? The first step is to recognize that this is an issue that affects roughly one-third of seniors in Canada. The second is to keep an eye out for our loved ones, especially the ones that might be more susceptible. The third is to encourage our loved ones to participate in their community by engaging in meaningful, productive activities. Ways to increase the likelihood of social integration are to make sure they’re in a house they feel safe in and have enough income to maintain, have a supportive social network and have some way to reclaim their independence with access to transportation.

Let’s be there with those who are most vulnerable. Let’s talk, listen and learn.
* Being that today we’re focusing on mental health awareness, we will not discuss the negative impact social isolation has on physical health but we encourage you to follow any of the links above for more information.