Info For Seniors: Exploring the impacts of social isolation

Canada’s National Seniors Council released the paper “Who’s at risk and what can be done about it? A review of the literature on the social isolation of different groups of seniors.”

It is estimated that up to 16 per cent of seniors experience social isolation (Statistics Canada, 2010). Given the diversity of methodologies used in studying isolation and the challenges in reaching the isolated, estimates on the prevalence of isolation are wide ranging. However, data from the Canadian Community Health Survey, a large-scale study with a range of social isolation indicators, provide an overall sense of the magnitude of the problem (Statistics Canada, 2010). These findings suggest that a significant portion of seniors experience social isolation.

The impact of social isolation is no less significant. A substantial body of literature has demonstrated that loneliness and social isolation are recognized as risk factors for poor health and reduced wellbeing – and that social isolation is significantly and independently related to health status and various quality-of-life indicators (Hawton et al., 2011).

Conversely, Canadians with more family and friend supports are usually more likely to be in very good physical and mental health (Sinha, 2014), and individuals with strong social relationships are more likely to live longer than individuals with poor social relations (Holt Lunstad et al., 2015).

In one systematic review of the literature, researchers found that nearly all studies found a detrimental effect of isolation or loneliness on health. Health risks associated with isolation and loneliness have been compared to the well-established detrimental effects of smoking and obesity (Courtin and Knapp, 2014). Indeed, one researcher has suggested that social isolation can be equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day in terms of health consequences (Wilson, 2015). The most commonly studied health outcome association with isolation was depression, followed by cardiovascular health and wellbeing/quality of life (Courtin and Knapp, 2014).

Loneliness is associated with higher levels of cortisol, changes with immune response, disrupted sleep, increased risk of heart attacks (Bolton, 2012; Courtin and Knapp, 2014), and stroke (Bohic, 2012). Loneliness and isolation are also associated with poorer cognitive function among older adults (Shankar et al., 2013), and can increase the likelihood of falls (Do et al., 2015). In a review of the literature on suicide prevention among seniors, Saïas et al. (2013) found that isolation is a major risk factor associated with suicide among seniors, who already have a higher suicide rate than younger age groups. In addition to the health impacts, there are also recognized economic and social implications of isolation.

Read the full report at this link:, To discuss ways that you can get involved as a volunteer call Community Care and start the conversation. To find out the programs and services available to seniors call 613-476-7493. Working together we can reduce social isolation in our community.

Picton Seniors Luncheon Social

The menu includes chicken breast with mushroom cream sauce and lemon pie. The cost is $10.00 per person. This event will be held in the Picton Town Hall, April 4.. Note the new location. There is an elevator for those who need it. This event will include a presentation. Reserve your place by Tuesday at noon by calling 613-476-7493.