Social isolation rarely happens because of just one life event or situation. People are resilient. We overcome obstacles thrown in our way. But sometimes when we’re faced with a combination of obstacles, our ability to adapt is overwhelmed and we’re at greater risk of becoming lonely and isolated.
As we grow older, our social networks often shrink because of retirement, we lose touch with friends, and children and grandchildren may move away. If we are providing care to a partner or parent, our availability for social activities may be limited. Even health challenges that are common as part of the normal human aging process can limit our capacity to participate in activities.
For some older adults, lack of resources also plays a part in how often we can socialize and join in activities. Resources can refer to finances – activities often have costs – but resources can also refer to awareness of options, transportation to get to activities and understanding the language in which a service or activity is offered.
It’s not just the amount of activities that we are involved in that makes a difference to our well-being. The quality of relationships we have with people in our life matters a great deal too. If we don’t know people that we trust and can rely on and people that we feel close to, we’re more likely to feel lonely and isolated.
If you’re wondering if you may be socially isolated, learn more about risk factors for social isolation and tools that can be used to assess loneliness and isolation. You can also use this quick assessment tool.
I am content with my friendships and relationships Yes | No
I have enough people I feel comfortable asking for help at any time Yes | No
I am as socially and physically active as I want to be Yes | No
I have the resources I need to do the things I want to do Yes | No
Answering “no” to any of these questions is a signal that you may be at greater risk of becoming lonely and isolated, but it’s not a certainty. There are many organizations in Edmonton that can help you connect with other people, find the information you need, become involved in the community, and get support. The resources and organizations on our Get Connected page are a good place to start. You can also call the Seniors Information Phone Line to get information on programs, services and resources in Edmonton. Dial 2-1-1 and press 2 to reach the Seniors Information Phone Line.