Issue #35: Loneliness and Social Exclusion

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Seniors experience the highest degree of loneliness and social exclusion of any age group. The consequences of loneliness significantly decrease life expectancy, physical well-being, and mental health. Being lonely is as harmful as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and poses a significant risk for mortality.

Canada needs to confront its current epidemic of loneliness face-on. We should consider adopting the UK’s models of safeguarding to address neglect, exclusion, and social disconnection.

Recommendation #115: Create Mid-Range New Horizons for Seniors (NHS) Grants Focused on Social Inclusion

Allow New Horizons for Seniors Program grant holders to receive up to three years of funding which would give enough time to develop relationships with funders and partners, build trust, and make a positive change with program participants. The federal government should work with philanthropic and grantmaking organizations to support various funding models to allow for greater sustainability and effectiveness of the NHS Program.

Recommendation #116: Community-Based Programs

Invest in innovative community-based programs that connect lonely or socially isolated seniors to local programs and supports. Adopt the United Way’s CORE program across Canada.

Invest in inclusive programming such as dementia-friendly public libraries.
Prioritize investment in culturally and linguistically inclusive programming in both long-term care and community settings.

Recommendation #117: Men’s Loneliness

To address men’s loneliness, invest in local programming such as Men’s Sheds, sporting leagues, debating societies, and socially connected exercise classes such as the Vancouver-based Choose to Move program which combines fitness and friendship.

Recommendation #118: In-Person Wellness Checks for Isolated Seniors

Implement well-being checks for isolated seniors, similar to the UK’s and France’s postal programs. Door-to-door well-being checks could be incorporated into Canada Post’s programming alongside other community-based programs.

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