National Seniors Council to explore adverse effects of social isolation

MONTRÉAL, December 10, 2013 /Canada NewsWire/ - Members of the National Seniors Council (NSC) met today in Montréal with seniors organizations, service and health providers, researchers and practitioners to assess how social isolation affects seniors and how best to tackle the issue in Canada.

"Social isolation affects the overall well-being of seniors including their health and their participation in their families, workplaces and communities," said the Honourable Alice Wong, Minister of State (Seniors), who oversees the day-to-day work of the Council. "Our government is working hard to tackle issues like social isolation by listening to seniors and consulting with key players from the non-profit, public and private sectors."

The Council met with individuals and organizations from across Quebec as part of a series of cross-country round tables. Social isolation touches many aspects of seniors' lives, including active participation, healthy ageing, income security, caregiving, elder abuse and transportation. For example, social isolation can lead to depression and increased vulnerability to elder abuse, among other concerns. Statistics Canada's Canadian Community Health Survey (2008/2009) found that 19 percent of seniors aged 65 or over felt a lack of companionship, left out or isolated from others.

"We are confident that the National Seniors Council's findings will help the Government of Canada better understand and address the needs of seniors," said Dr. Andrew Wister, member of the NSC. "Keeping seniors active and socially engaged benefits not just the senior, but their communities as a whole."

Since 2007, the NSC has undertaken work on elder abuse and on the effects of low income among seniors, volunteerism and positive and active ageing. Most recently, it explored approaches to retaining and attracting older workers in the labour force.

On October 1, 2013, National Seniors Day, the Government of Canada announced a Call for Proposals to fund approximately 20 pilot projects—an investment of $2 million—aimed at addressing seniors' social isolation.

The National Seniors Council (NSC)

The NSC advises on matters related to the well-being and quality of life of seniors, including the opportunities and challenges arising from a rapidly growing and increasingly diverse seniors population.

The Council reports to the Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Employment and Social Development and Minister for Multiculturalism, and to the Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Health. The Honourable Alice Wong, Minister of State (Seniors), is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Council.

NSC members include seniors, representatives of organizations who serve seniors and/or experts on seniors and ageing.

The Government of Canada established the NSC in 2007 to provide advice on the overall well-being of seniors, both now and in the future.