BC Association of Community Response Networks

Resource Spotlight: “Understanding Social Isolation and Loneliness (2022)” and “An Examination of the Social and Economic Impacts of Ageism” (2022)

–Submitted by April Struthers, Regional Mentor – Sunshine Coast

The Pender Harbour Health Centre and the Sunshine Coast Community Response Network (CRN) utilized the following resources to provide further context to the Federal ageism consultation process they conducted earlier this Fall, and opportunities to ground the work in the latest research.

Understanding Social Isolation and Loneliness Among Older Canadians and How to Address It (June 2022)

Produced by the National Institute on Ageing and RTOERO Foundation, this report explores the Canadian context for older adults and uncovers the extent of healthcare risks and costs.

It is estimated that 20 to 80 percent of older adults are affected by isolation and loneliness. The issue is growing as the Canadian older adult population increases.

Social isolation is also experienced in other stages of life. Teenagers and young adults are feeling significant amounts of social isolation and loneliness.

The resulting costs to health and healthcare are dramatic – social isolation and loneliness increase the risk of negative health impacts significantly.

The field and issues related to social isolation and loneliness do require more research and a better idea of its breadth and scope, as well as consistent national definitions. Few long-term, sustainable strategies to counter the issue have yet to be adopted, and the effectiveness of issues needs to be evaluated.

Recommendations in the report include:

  • Promoting best practices
  • Raising public and health providers’ awareness
  • Building the collective capacity of organizations
  • Engaging in inclusive and equitable approaches

View the report in full.

An Examination of the Social and Economic Impacts of Ageism (February 2022)

There is generally less awareness of ageism as an ‘ism’ than for other kinds of discrimination.  Researchers think ageism may also be more complex than other forms of discrimination.

The little research that has been conducted on ageism has focused solely on the dynamics in the employment and labour market.

Developed for the Federal/Provincial/Territorial Forum on Seniors (FPT Forum) through the University of Ottawa, this report reviews and analyzes over 300 documents to paint a Canadian ageism picture and the ageist stereotypes that contribute to physical and mental health suffering.

Older adults are shown to internalize and perpetuate these stereotypes.

There is a serious crossover and compounding effect: people identified in more than one marginalized group have an increased risk of being discriminated against. Older women, older immigrants, and older racialized persons face ageist stereotypes and discrimination in hiring and training opportunities more than other people.

How ageism shows itself in Indigenous communities is reported to be “under-documented”.

Most anti-ageist initiatives are seen in older adult-supporting organizations and in government (at least in a small scale). Most need to be tested on a larger scale. Initiatives showed to be most effective in changing attitudes about ageism meld education, awareness, and intergenerational activities. There is a part for legislation and more informed policy to play as well.

Recommendations in this report:

  • Researchers need to remember that older adults are not homogenous.
  • Research needs to look more closely at the “why” and “how” of ageism that is not yet known.
  • Overall public mindset about aging needs to shift.

View the report in full.

Check out our Top Resources of the Month for more of our favourite resources and tools.

Do you have a favourite resource or tool? Let us know and we might profile it in a future edition.

Header Photo: Stock image, MicroSoft Office 365.