Social Isolation and Loneliness
In Canada, older adults are facing growing rates of social isolation and loneliness. This can hurt both their physical and mental health. But loneliness and isolation do not have to be an inevitable part of aging. Working together, we can strengthen social connections to help maintain good health.
While the risks are serious, they are not inevitable. Increased social engagement has been linked to decreased disability and premature death. Some examples of social engagement include in-person or online social connections, volunteering and community participation, as well as physical activity.
- In Canada, older adults are facing growing rates of social isolation and loneliness. Almost 25% of people 65 years and older reported they would like to have participated in more social activities in the past year, 19% felt a lack of companionship, while 30% were determined to be at risk of social isolation. (Angus Reid, 2019; National Seniors Council, 2014 and 2017).
- Social isolation and loneliness can significantly impact both physical and mental well-being. The increased risk of death is similar to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. There is also an increased risk of diseases such as stroke and heart disease as well as an increased risk for anxiety, depression and dementia. (US Surgeon General Advisory, 2023).
- Small changes of increased social connection have been linked to improvements in physical and mental health.
*Much of the information presented in our Social Isolation and Loneliness section comes from Understanding Social Isolation and Loneliness Among Older Canadians and How to Address It, from the National Institute on Ageing and the RTOERO Foundation.