Christmas is a time of year when families come together to celebrate, but for older Canadian seniors, it can also be a time of great loneliness.
According to Statistics Canada, close to 1.5 million Canadian seniors report feeling lonely. This is particularly true for senior surviving spouses, who having lost their lifelong partner then experience a decreasing circle of friends able to travel to visit, and more difficulty in travelling themselves. Their grown-up children may live a long way away, and lead busy lives that don’t allow much time for visits, even at Christmas.
Social isolation in Canada
Social isolation is a major issue in Canada, and particularly for women aged over 65. According to the Administration on Aging:
- 72% of men over 65 are married and living with someone
- 45% percent of women over 65 are married
- 37% percent of women over 65 are widows
Furthermore, according to Statistics Canada:
- 24% of senior women aged 65 to 69 live alone
- 40% of women aged 80 to 84 live alone
- 37% of women aged 85 and over live alone
For men, the figures are markedly different:
- 21.8% of men aged aged 85 and over live alone
- 14% of men aged 65 to 69 live alone
Only the lonely
In an article on the CBC radio website quotes psychologist Ami Rokach, says that:
“People who are 80 years and older say that up to 80 per cent of the time they feel lonely… They feel unwanted. They feel rejected. They feel unloved. They feel that they’re not important. They’re not included.”
Factors contributing to loneliness
As we age, several factors can compound to create isolation and loneliness. We might have reduced mobility, and not want or be able to drive anymore. We might be worried about falling when outside, especially in the winter months. Our health may prevent us participating in as many activities as we used to, and we lose some of our social circle as a result.
A community that cares
That’s why one of the major health benefits of senior living at a Manor Village Life Centre are the community of people who call it home. Our Residents all enjoy their own private, self-contained suite with all the comforts of home, with the support of our in-house team including maintenance, housekeeping and our chefs.
Just outside their suite door is the companionship, activities, support and sheer enjoyment of being part of a vibrant, active and understanding community. At our Manor Village senior living communities, every outing, entertainment, event or daily activity is designed to add life to years.
- Our Wellness team devise a program for each Resident that helps them live life to the full whilst monitoring and addressing health issues.
- The Activities team create a calendar packed with lots of participation events to enjoy every single day, including exercise classes, card and board games. We also hold movie matinees, and our Residents love regular live entertainment performed by local acts and musicians.
- Each Manor Village’s executive chef and their team create well-balanced, nutritious and delicious meals that are a social event in themselves, plus themed evenings for everyone to relish.
Less lonely, long lifespan
The statistics around the effects of loneliness on life span are very revealing. Researchers at the University of California found that 25% of seniors involved in their six year study who reported feeling lonely died during their study. In contrast, of those with active social lives, only 14.2% had died.
Out and about for better health
Feeling part of your neighbourhood community is also key to reducing loneliness. That’s one reason why our senior communities organise a wide range of outings and activities in the local area. These include shopping trips, lunches at local restaurants, afternoon concerts and evening theatre shows, church visits and “Sunday drives” into the gorgeous landscapes of Alberta and Ontario.
The best part of these outings is that our Manor Villages team takes care of all the arrangements. Our own team of drivers transport our Residents in our vehicles, so there is provision for varying mobility needs. As a result, many of our Residents find that they simply don’t need their own car anymore. They very much enjoy the social aspect of being driven with friends, and agree it’s far less stressful than driving the journey themselves, especially at night.
A community that cares
Every member of the Manor Village team always has time for a smile and a hello. Many of our staff have been with us for years, sometimes decades, and our Residents regard them as their family (and vice versa). By swapping stories of children and family, events, news, etc, we create a community of inclusion where Residents feel part of an extended family beyond their own.
How you can help combat loneliness
In every community, senior loneliness and isolation has a very simple cure; a little of someone’s time. So why not give the gift of a little of your time this Christmas season? We can all find ten minutes in our week to talk to an elderly neighbour and check if they are OK. It’s not too hard to ask if they need anything at the grocery store, especially if the weather is bad, or offer them a lift in the car when we’re driving into town. We can all use those wasted minutes waiting in line at a supermarket or at a medical appointment to chat to the older person next to us rather than playing on our phones.
Join a Community with Heart
If you’re concerned about a relative becoming isolated, or unable to care for themselves as they did before, call us and book a personalized visit to any of our Calgary senior living communities or our London Ontario senior community. We look forward to meeting you in 2018.