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 are not an unavoidable 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.
We are developing clinical guidelines to support health and social service providers to assess and address social isolation and loneliness among older adults. They will be available in early 2024.
- 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.
Are you a health care professional?
Learn about our upcoming clinical guidelines to best support older adults in your care.
Find information and resources to help older adults here.
Are you an older adult or care partner?
Access helpful tools and resources here.