When it comes to seniors’ mental health in Canada, the facts are pretty disturbing:
- More seniors in Canada have mental health problems than in many other countries
- Over 1.8 million Canadians over age 60 were living with a mental health problem or illness in 2016
- Approximately 1,000 older adults are admitted to Canadian hospitals every year due to intentional self-harm
What’s causing seniors’ mental health problems?
According to this report, the decline of seniors’ mental health is linked very closely to social isolation.
Put simply, social isolation can occur due to a low quantity and quality of contact with others.
RISE also refers to social isolation as “reductions in a senior’s social participation or social contact that cause loneliness or other emotional distress.”
It’s widely reported that seniors’ social isolation can lead to a greater risk of depression and even suicide. Studies even show that the lack of a supportive social network is linked to a 60% increase in the risk of dementia and cognitive decline!
Is your loved one socially isolated?
You may be wondering: “How would I know if my mom or dad is socially isolated, and therefore susceptible to mental illness?”
There are many factors that can lead to seniors’ social isolation, including (but not limited to):
- Living alone
- Having compromised health status (e.g., multiple chronic health problems)
- Having no contact with family
- Lacking access to transportation
- Critical life transitions—including retirement, the death of a spouse, or losing a driver’s license
Meanwhile, the more factors you check off, the more at risk that person is for mental health issues or mental illness.
Increasing social connection = better health outcomes
But there is good news for seniors.
Research also shows a link between:
- Frequent and meaningful social engagement—that is, being involved in fun activities and having close relationships); and
- Maintaining a good quality of life.
In fact, this Stats Can study states that seniors who engage in more quality activities report feeling less lonely, more life satisfaction, and healthier!
Why healthier? It’s believed that social connectedness strengthens the immune system, lowers stress and offers psychological benefits.
(We think that’s pretty amazing.)
Barriers to social participation
Of course, social participation isn’t easy for everyone—particularly seniors.
Health problems, limited mobility and lack of transportation are common barriers.
And if you’re a caregiver to an ageing parent, you probably have limited time to ensure they are being social.
So what now?
Consider a retirement community
Especially if you live in a larger city like Ottawa, there are many amazing programs, activities and services out there for keeping older people socially connected and active.
Retirement communities are also a wonderful option for seniors—especially if they need ongoing social interaction to feel happier and lead a more fulfilling life.
In fact, we’ve personally seen some seniors flourish in retirement homes—improving their overall health and wellbeing.
Of course, trying to figure out which residence is most ideal for Mom or Dad can be challenging, not to mention overwhelming.
That’s where Tea & Toast comes in.
Our senior living advisors are experts in local retirement communities, their programs and services.
Contact us to learn more about our search service—and how we can help you find an Ottawa-based home that provides the right social “fit” for your ageing parent.
Learn about working with a retirement living advisor! We can find the perfect home for you or your loved one. Contact us today!