The aging population in Canada has been increasingly experiencing loneliness and isolation. Statistics Canada reports that up to 1.4 million elderly Canadians feel lonely. According to research “Approximately 50% of people over the age of 80 report feeling lonely”.
There are a number of factors that lead up to a decline in social interactions as seniors age. As friends and family members pass on, social circles begin to shrink. Those remaining may be facing similar challenges of limited mobility and health issues. This can lead seniors to feel embarrassed, tired and demotivated to keep in contact on a regular basis. Additionally, children and grandchildren are juggling busy schedules and may not be present as much as they’d like to. As a result, the elderly are finding themselves spending the majority of their time by themselves and are feeling isolated.
Some major risk factors of isolation, as noted by Government Canada, include:
- being 80 years old or older
- living alone
- having chronic health problems
- lack of transportation access
- changing family and friend networks
- low income living
Research indicates that loneliness can affect your physical and mental health. While loneliness in seniors doesn’t directly cause their health issues, it’s likely to amplify the outcome of unrelated illnesses, making them difficult to bounce back from. For example, hypertension, sleep disturbances and dementia can be exaggerated when an individual is lonely. Additionally, isolation can cause a decrease in confidence and self-esteem thereby reducing a person’s motivation for seeking social connection and health care services, which then exacerbates their isolation.
Since loneliness can cause feelings of depression and a sense of abandonment, seniors may turn to unhealthy habits like skipping their medication, drinking, smoking, not eating well and being sedentary. On the other hand, research shows that a person who has a good social network will make better decisions regarding their health and habits; for example, being more physically active and reducing or eliminating alcohol consumption.
Although loneliness might be plaguing the aged population, 86% of seniors still prefer to age in place as opposed to transitioning to institutional care. Many seniors and their families discover that home care services can provide a solution. Services such as assistance around the house, personal care and meal preparation allow a senior to remain independent in the comfort of their own home.
Additionally, companion care offers a social interaction which is beneficial to seniors. Simple, light hearted interactions like playing games, having a cup of tea, having someone to accompany them to a show or out to lunch with can lift their spirits.
For more information on the benefits of home care support and companionship care contact a care specialist at Graceful living Home Care Services. Care is just a call away.