Social isolation is often defined as a deprivation of social connectedness. Many older adults report feeling socially excluded and a recent report indicated that 20% of Canadian seniors, pre-COVID-19 pandemic, did not have a single person to reach out to in case of emergency.
A lack of social inclusion can create profound loneliness, financial insecurity and dependence, declining mental and physical health, and increase conditions for abuse and neglect. Social isolation can lead to loneliness, depression, and poor health outcomes which are equal to or even worse than alcoholism, obesity, or smoking. Social inclusion is an area where many emerging innovative and exciting practices are being piloted, particularly in the time of COVID-19, which need support and scale.
Ageism is often found as a key underlying cause of social exclusion, discrimination, and social vulnerability. Ageism must be confronted in a similar manner as other forms of discrimination such as racism, sexism, or homophobia and proactively challenged as a fundamental breach of rights.
Social inclusion requires significant community engagement and sector capacity building. Canada should adopt leading programs and practices as well as support vitally important knowledge hubs, such as the United Way’s CORE Program, across the country.
Explore the Issues
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