Health Well Educators & Consultants Ltd.

Better Together: Age-Friendly Nanaimo

As a part of Seniors Connect the Better Together: Age-Friendly Nanaimo initiative aims to educate the public about the risk of social isolation and its’ impact on older adults’ health, and to encourage people to take action to make Nanaimo a more age-friendly city.

There are many seniors living in Nanaimo who are socially isolated. In time, social isolation, and lack of meaningful contact with others, can lead to serious physical illness, mental health and quality of life issues for older people.

What is Social Isolation?

Social isolation is an undesired decrease in social contact and social roles, as well as an absence of mutually-rewarding relationships with other people.

  • Social Isolation is NOT a normal part of aging.
  • Social isolation is the new smoking. The impact of social isolation on health and mortality is at least as great as the impact of smoking, alcohol consumption and obesity.
  • Anyone can become socially isolated when challenges exceed personal resources and available support from friends, family and community.
  • Ageism, lack of transportation, affordability, mobility/physical barriers in the community, lack of information and access to community supports and health care all limit seniors’ social participation and call for system changes.
  • An age-friendly community facilitates social inclusion.

Am I At Risk?

Some common key risk factors and signs of social isolation are listed below. If an individual is dealing with five or more of these issues, they may be at risk of social isolation:

  • Living alone
  • Age 80 or older
  • Having chronic illness(s) or a disability
  • Having no children or contact with family
  • Lacking access to transportation
  • Living with low income
  • Being a caregiver
  • Experiencing critical life transitions (i.e.; retirement, death of a spouse, losing driver’s license)
  • Changes in physical health (bruising, weight loss)
  • Changes in mental or emotional health
  • Changes in personal hygiene, appearance or routine
  • Changes in the condition of the home (cleanliness, neglect)

If you think a senior may be at risk, seek help! If you are unsure of what to do, contact Vancouver Island Crisis Line: 1-888-494-3888 (24 hours a day/7 days a week) for information, support and referrals.

Dial 911 for urgent emergencies.

As a community, we can all help to prevent social isolation. Reducing social isolation requires a multi-pronged collaborative approach that involves everyone! People of all ages in all walks of life, organizations/services that seniors use and businesses all have a role to play in preventing social isolation.

Better Together: Age-Friendly Nanaimo initiatives will include:

  • A public campaign to raise awareness about seniors’ social isolation, and to inspire Nanaimo to take action;
  • Creating more age-friendly businesses and neighbourhoods;
  • Offering volunteer and leadership opportunities for seniors;
  • Hosting educational forums about social isolation;
  • Offering free workshops and presentations for individuals, community groups, students, businesses and anyone who cares to learn more about, and to prevent social isolation.
  • Offering certification as a “Better Together Champion”. The training includes learning to identify the signs and risks of social isolation, and what actions can be take to prevent it.

For more information email Better Together Nanaimo or call 250-760-0301.

 

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