Loneliness and Older Adults

Ageing is a complex experience.  While much can be positive, there are changes and losses that come with ageing that can impact wellness and mental health.

During COVID, CARP surveyed its members about mental health challenges, and respondents identified financial insecuritydifficulty in getting medical care, and isolation, particularly in care facilities as key challenges to their mental health.

Three years on, these challenges remain highly relevant.  In fact, recently, approximately  1 in every 5  CARP members have identified ‘loneliness’ as an obstacle in the way of aging well.

We know that loneliness is often a social and community issue, and not an individual one. CARP is advocating for better mental health for all older Canadians. You can read how here.

There are barriers that prevent older Canadians from engaging in the way they might, and CARP works hard to chip away at the ageism that can create these barriers in the area of health care, financial security and other elements that impact quality of life.

If you are wondering what to do with your time, or ways to get more engaged, here are just a few ideas to get your wheels turning:

  • RIGHT NOW: Free Online Physical Activity Program from January-March 
  • Reach out to your local CARP chapter. You may be surprised to know that even if you aren’t close in proximity, there may be some great ways to participate in online chapter events like webinars or help out with important advocacy campaigns. Part of what CARP volunteers enjoy about their work are the connections they make.
  • Volunteer for a cause you are passionate about. Whether you have good mobility or transport or not, there are usually ways you can support organizations and causes you care about. With the ever growing digital world, it’s easier than ever to be an armchair advocate.
  • Online puzzles and games. There are some great free online games out there, like the games on Zoomer or Wordle and other New York Times games.
  • Online courses. A number of sites offer online courses, some free. For starters, check out, The Open University’s Open Learn.
  • Local recreation opportunities Recreation opportunities vary across the country, and much depends on the type of community you live in. If you’re wondering what’s out there, search online for ‘seniors recreation’ and your province or community. Libraries and community centres often have free events and more information about what might appeal to you.
  • Consider one of CARP’s benefits, Art at Your Service
  • Animal shelters. Animal shelters are often looking for reliable volunteers who can come spend time with the animals.
  • Red Cross Friendly Calls Service Whether you are the one dialing or the one picking up, the friendly calls service might be of interest. The program aims to enhance social connectedness and well-being, with a focus on reaching older adults and others.

There might be more out there which could help ease loneliness than you realize. Loneliness can have different causes — grief, mobility issues, transportation problems, depression, or a change in work situation are just a few possible sources of potential challenge to engagement. Whatever the cause of isolation, there are diversions, programs and people who can help.

While there are programs out there to support you, we also know you have much to offer. CARP continues to fight to make Canada a country which places greater value on the rich lived experience and skills that older Canadians provide.