In 2017, the Pan-Edmonton Group Addressing Social Isolation of Seniors (PEGASIS) commissioned a survey to get a picture of seniors’ social isolation in Edmonton. Conducted by Insights West using a representative sample of 724 senior participants, the survey revealed that 13 per cent of Edmonton seniors did not feel connected to their friends and family. 32 per cent felt isolated from others either some of the time or often.
A follow-up 2019 survey showed similarly troubling numbers. 25 per cent of participants reported they don’t have someone they can count on to listen to them, 39 per cent noted they don’t have someone they can reliably count on, and 24 per cent said they don’t have someone they can rely on for help.
The numbers make it clear that social isolation is a significant issue for Edmonton seniors and continued effort to reduce the problem must take place if we are to realize a connected Edmonton for citizens from all walks of life.
The numbers make it clear that social isolation is a significant issue for Edmonton seniors. People of all ages with robust networks of social and community support have better physical and mental health outcomes, while isolation and loneliness put health at risk. Social inclusion is a preventive measure that supports government and community goals, such as easing strain on our health care system.
The work done by PEGASIS, and now the Connecting Edmonton Seniors initiative, to increase social inclusion and community supports for seniors holds promise. Like most important social issues, community-based support for seniors is complex. No single organization has all the answers or can provide every program or function that’s needed. We are working towards systems-level changes that can allow seniors to age healthily in the community.