If someone asked you to spot the signs of social isolation, would you know what to look for? Although there are some common risk factors, isolation is complex and the signs aren’t always immediately obvious. If you suspect a senior in your life may be experiencing isolation, there are questions you can ask to get a better understanding of their situation.
Establishing trust is the first and most critical step to connecting an isolated senior. Maybe you’re the reliable neighbour who’s always lending a hand to shovel their sidewalk, or perhaps you’re the friendly pharmacist who knows their prescription by heart and always makes time for conversation. No matter your position, if you have a trusting relationship with a senior, they may be open to discussing how they feel about their social network, perception of relationships, and level of support. Encouragement from a trusted person is often the nudge that can prompt a senior to act and get connected.
To help community members act as connectors, we have developed a “Conversation Starters” tool. This 1-pager resource provides a series of questions you can ask. Questions include, “do you have someone who can give you advice in a crisis?”, “do you feel connected to your friends/family?”, and more. Note that a “no” to any of these questions does not necessarily mean someone is isolated, it only means they are at greater risk for isolation.
Download the tool to get the full list of questions!