Combat Social Isolation by Visiting a Senior During the Holiday Season

Social isolation as strong a factor in illness and depression for some seniors

Vancouver, B.C. (December 22, 2016): As Christmas Day rapidly approaches, the pace of activity for most British Columbians is at an all-time high as we scramble to get those last-minute items crossed off our checklist. But for many seniors living in a care home or receiving care at home, this can often be a lonely time of the year. That’s why the BC Care Providers Association (BCCPA) is encouraging everyone with a friend or family member receiving care to take some time out of their busy schedule for a special visit this holiday season.

UPDATE: See coverage on this release at Global BC News, CKNW News and Roundhouse Radio.

“Even a short visit or phone call from a friend or loved one around this time of year can go a long way in helping to reduce the impact of social isolation,” says Mike Klassen, Vice President and spokesperson for BC Care Providers. “This is of particular importance when you realize the impact living in isolation can have on the health of a senior.”

According to a federal report on the social isolation of seniors, “As many as 44% of seniors living in residential care in Canada have been diagnosed with depression or show symptoms of depression without diagnosis. Men over the age of 80 have among the highest suicide rate of all age groups. Therefore, the link between mental health and social isolation cannot be ignored.”

  • According to a 2012 study of the National Academy of Sciences, both social isolation and loneliness are associated with a higher risk of mortality in adults aged 52 and older.
  • In a 2012 Statistics Canada report, nearly one in four seniors reported that they would like to participate more in social activities.
  • Statistics Canada’s 2008/09 Canadian Community Health Survey also found that about one-fifth of seniors felt left out, isolated from others, or that they lacked companionship.

Research shows that social isolation can have detrimental effects on health.

  • Isolation is as strong a factor in early death as smoking 15 cigarettes a day
  • Social isolation is also a factor in the development of chronic illnesses such as chronic lung disease, arthritis, and impaired mobility.

“One of the nicest gifts you could give a senior living in a care home or receiving care at home this season is to make that connection through an in-person visit or even a phone call,” says Klassen. “It is time you each can enjoy together, and it could lead to some very positive health effects for someone you love.”

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For more information:
Mike Klassen, Vice-President
Communications and Stakeholder Relations
604-377-5499