Health Reports: Social Isolation and Mortality Among Canadian Seniors
The impact of social isolation and loneliness on health and well-being is recognized globally as a public health issue. Currently, many Canadians are experiencing social isolation as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic—seniors in particular are advised to physically isolate themselves to reduce the risk of infection.
According to a study based on responses to the 2008/2009 Canadian Community Health Survey – Healthy Aging, an estimated 525,000 people (12%) aged 65 and older felt socially isolated. This was measured as a combination of feelings of loneliness and a weak sense of community belonging. Over 1 million respondents (1,018,000, or 24%) reported low participation, meaning they participated in community activities less than once a week.
While this study examines the associations between social isolation and mortality over a nine-year period prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, it also highlights the importance of seniors returning to their activities and social interactions after the pandemic to avoid long-term social isolation.