Fighting the Social Isolation of Seniors

It’s Mental Health Week and a good time to better understand some important issues facing seniors and older adults. In 2014, the National Seniors Council released a report highlighting a dangerous societal trend: socially isolated seniors.

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A growing number of seniors across Canada are stepping back from their communities, isolating themselves from family and friends, and finding themselves lonelier than ever. It is often assumed that social isolation only affects seniors who have no support system or family. The reality is that it can affect anyone and is often triggered by life transitions such as retirement, death of a spouse, or downsizing to a smaller home.

A number of organizations across Canada have developed community and day programs targeted at reducing social isolation among seniors. The key component to the success of these programs is a concept so humble yet immensely impactful: companionship.

Despite the simplicity of companionship, many families are unable to provide the level of companionship their loved one requires to due to daily commitments. Furthermore, physical or mental disabilities or unwillingness from the individual to participate in day or community programs can make providing companionship challenging, leading families to ask, “What other options does my loved one have if they need companionship?” The answer is home care. Non-medical home care agencies, such as Seniors for Seniors, are able to provide companionship services to families who need long-or short-term companionship for their loved one.

Seniors for Seniors, one of Ontario’s largest non-medical home care agencies, believes so strongly in the success of companionship that it has based its business model and services on this concept. It is the only home care agency in Ontario that provides retired seniors as companions for the elderly. The rationale being that successful companionship among seniors occurs when the caregiver is close in age to the client and can form a friendship based on commonalities. All services provided by Seniors for Seniors are framed in the context of companionship; whether it’s a Driver Companion to drive your father to doctor appointments or a Drop-In Companion to have a cup of tea and chat with your great-aunt, the services focus on building a friendship between the client and the Seniors for Seniors Companion, which can dramatically reduce the risk of a senior suffering from social isolation.

Companionship has shown to have great effects on the emotional, mental and physical state of seniors. It encourages them to connect, maintain relationships and minimize the risks of negative health behaviours and the reduction of social skills. Personally providing companionship to an elderly loved one may not always be an option, but there are many community-based programs and agencies that can assist. Providing companionship to our loved one or a senior in your community is one of the greatest gifts you can give.

Fighting the Social Isolation of Seniors article courtesy of Seniors for Seniors

Seniors for Seniors logo For more information or to contact Seniors for Seniors about their companion services in your local region:  SeniorsforSeniors.ca

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